Wildlife MP of 2013 – you choose

Wildlife doesn’t have a vote.  If the interests of wildlife are to be served, then those interests need to be voiced by us and by our representatives in the various parliaments around the UK.

Here is a list (alphabetical order) of six Westminster MPs who have made an impact on wildlife during 2013. Who would get your vote for the MP who has ‘done the best job’ for wildlife this year?


By John_brigden_and_nick_clegg.jpg: Tyh8 uipd derivative work: Maximus0970 (John_brigden_and_nick_clegg.jpg) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By  John Brigden from Wikimedia Commons
Nick Clegg (@nick_clegg)

I was scraping around rather to find a LibDem candidate for this poll.

At least the LibDem leader mentioned wildlife in his conference speech (claiming credit for ‘saving’ Natural England), and he has recently made a ‘green’ speech.

Quote: They wanted to scrap Natural England, hold back green energy. They even wanted geography teachers to stop teaching children about how we can tackle climate change. No, no and no – the Liberal Democrats will keep this Government green.


By Kieran O'Keeffe from Wikimedia Commons
By Kieran O’Keeffe from Wikimedia Commons


Barry Gardiner (@barrygardiner)

Barry Gardiner strengthened the Labour Front Bench team this summer – he is an ex Defra Minister.

Spoke passionately about wildlife crime in Westminster Hall debate.

Quote: some irresponsible gamekeepers shoot raptors and they have a vendetta against hen harriers in particular. That must stop and the way to achieve that is through vicarious liability.



By derivative work: Busillis (talk)  via Wikimedia Commons
By derivative work: Busillis (talk) via Wikimedia Commons

Zac Goldsmith (@zacgoldsmith)

Rich – which means he feels he can speak his mind. And he has a mind, and one which considers the environment and wildlife.

An active member of the Environmental Audit Committee.

Quote: I don’t think he [Owen Paterson] understands the issue [genetic modification]. He’s swallowed the industry line hook, line and sinker without talking to anyone with a different view. When designing policy that’s a dangerous thing and I’m concerned big business is framing the debate for the government.



312px-CarolineLucasMEP_Oxford20060411_KaihsuTaiCaroline Lucas (@carolinelucas)

The only Green Party MP in parliament.

Active, well-informed and passionate.

An active member of the Environmental Audit Committee.

Quote: ‘Looking back at it now, it’s quite astonishing to contemplate that David Cameron could ever have talked about leading “the greenest government ever. Within eighteen months, it had tried to implement ill conceived planning reforms that cast the environment – and the regulation needed to protect it – as enemies of growth.






By Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs  via Wikimedia Commons
By Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs via Wikimedia Commons

Owen Paterson

Some would say a strange choice in this poll as the politician who is enthusiastically championing the culling of badgers.  But surely the Secretary of State for the Environment deserves the chance to storm through and win this poll?

Anti-badger, pro-neonic, anti-EU, biodiversity-offsetting, climate change sceptic.  But he does believe in full-scale modulation of money from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 of the CAP.

Quote: I’m not moving the goalposts – the badgers are moving the goalposts.





Joan Walley from her website
Joan Walley from her website

Joan Walley

The Environmental Audit Committee, which Ms Walley chairs, now plays an important role in holding government’s feet to the fire – sometimes well enough to make government feel burned rather than comfortable.

Quote: There is no justification for people using these products [neonicotinoids] on their Dahlias when they could be damaging pollinator populations.



Vote below, and you will see that there is a ‘none of the above’ option too.



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47 Replies to “Wildlife MP of 2013 – you choose”

  1. At a time like this, its good to be reminded that there are politicians working hard for nature and the environment. It’s quite a difficult choice – to go global with Zac, or more local with Caroline risking arrest to protest against fracking on the South Downs or Barry fighting for England’s Hen Harriers – either way, they all deserve our support and respect.

  2. Oooh, I’m so tempted to vote for Owen Paterson. After all, he’s done so much to unite a disparate group of conservation bodies, wildlife lovers, countryside-preservers, TV personalities and local communities over issues such as wildlife declines, badgers, hunting, neonicotinoids, fracking, and development on SSSIs and in National Parks. Well done.

    Only kidding. Naturally.

    How should I really vote, though? I believe if we have the hard-won right to vote, we have a duty to vote – however unpalatable the choices may be – so ‘None of the above’ is not an option for me. As I think I’ve said on this site before, Government policy is crucial to the success of on-the-ground conservation – as we’ve seen on many fronts, and mostly not in a good way – and not just since 2010. So that means I will vote for the politician who has done the most to affect policy positively.

    That does not include Nick Clegg. In spite of his protestations, virtually the only thing the Coalition has kept green is the ‘crap’, obviously. As you say, Barry Gardiner has made encouraging noises – but overall Labour’s conservation credentials are still weak and need a lot of work. I was pleased to see Caroline Lucas take the time to get arrested in the name of environmentalism, but the Greens are fading into the background now she’s stepped down as their leader. Zac Goldsmith also makes good noises – he seems to really ‘get it’ in a way many of his fellow-backbenchers don’t – but he’s still a bit of a lone voice and I’m not convinced he’s being listened to by his colleagues in Government posts.

    That leaves the little-known Joan Walley, chairing the EAC and holding Government to account – albeit with Zac Goldsmith’s and others’ help – so she gets my vote.

    ‘The greenest government ever’ now sounds so unbelievably hollow that I’ve known Easter eggs with more structural and moral integrity. But I’m still waiting to hear some really positive environmental moves from any of the parties. We need action now, not more hollow words.

      1. Jane – that is very broad-minded of you. Zac has moved a fair way to the left of his father’s political views, it seems to me.

  3. In the early days of the current shower I walked past a whiteboard in Nobel Hoose that bore the jottings from a discussion of “Big Society” and “The Greenest Gubmint Ever”. There was nothing about things natural at all. It was all about reducing the energy consumption of Defra buildings. Taking showers together, working in the dark – that sort of carry on.

    Thus briefed, I’m not surprised by the way events have unfolded. Having low expectations at the outset prevents disappointment later.

  4. Not one of them seems to have the courage to take Paterson on and expose his lies. He is bringing Parliament into disrepute and causing immense damage and no-one is stopping him.

    I like Zac Goldsmith but the possibility of another Tory Government horrifies me.

    I’ve voted for Caroline Lucas but until they start taking Paterson on and stopping his onslaught on the environment and wildlife, for vested interests, I will remain disgusted with them all.

  5. He may not be in the news much these days, but I think ex- Minister for the Environment Michael Meacher should be included. He did care for wildlife, so I suppose he is considered “old fashioned” now?

  6. Is this serious?

    Surely not?

    There’s only one taking climate change -and therefore wildlife and the environment even remotely seriously and that’s Caroline Lucas.

    The fact that an influential ex-RSPB employee comes up with a list with Zac Goldsmith and Nick Clegg et al on it, is enough to make anyone who takes the problems of the planet seriously, despair. Time for a change.

    And voting for a “winner”? That’s just a stupid, vacuous trivialisation of the situation – like something you’d see in a newspaper or TV programme for the terminally dimwitted.

  7. The fact that ownup pratpig twaterson is included in this poll makes it a complete joke. It’s a bit like championing desperate Dan to head up the vegetarian society – shame on you

      1. I suspect that for a lot of people to appreciate irony you need to poke them in the eye with it

  8. Vote for Caroline Lucas here, but I’ve always been surprised to hear how enlightened Zac Goldsmith seems (for a Tory)

  9. I see that Owen Paterson is a member of the Prime Minister’s delegation to China at the moment. I don’t know precisely why he is included on the mission but it would be nice to think that he is there to encourage/help the Chinese to address serious environmental issues including greenhouse gas emissions, loss of wetland habitat e.g. in the East Asian flyway, Chinese demand for ivory and its impact on wild African Elephant populations, air pollution…
    I expect that the truth is more along the lines of him helping to try and flog British stuff to the Chinese.
    Unfortunately I did not realise he was going until I saw a picture of him on the ‘plane or I would have written to him.

      1. Flogging dead pigs to the Chinese is a major export drive – Gentleman Jim was also involved if I remember rightly. It’s not the porkers I object to – it’s the amount of wheat grown with our subsidy and the amount of imported soy they are stuffed with and all the land use commited to it all. Let them grow their own food.

  10. Don’t forget, mark is a scientist and you always need a ‘control’ in any experiment 9which of course this is, with us as the guinea pigs) + you need to bear in mind that there are a lot of people out there who may well vote for more unlikely candidates in Mark’s list. Did anyone else hear the BBC piece where, bending over so far backwards in their search for ‘balance’ they touched the ground, they had cash-for questions Neil Hamilton (reinvented as a UKIP candidate) on representing CC denial ? and, of course, the Conservative’s appointment of Lynton Crosby is a clear signal that cynicism is now the name of the game for the right.

  11. Richard Benyon not on the list Mark…? He did UK wildlife a big favour when he got the push! 😉


  12. Caroline Lucas is the only one really trying to stand up to the government and make a difference for wildlife and the environment.
    Zac Goldsmith makes some good arguments but is still very worryingly a Tory – he should go Green.
    If this is a joke vote then perhaps Paterson should get it. You could get the badgers to award it to him… providing they’d been vaccinated first.

  13. Tempted to vote for Owen Paterson as at least he has more guts to try and get to grips with the BTB problem that the Labour Government was completely responsible for in the sense that incidence of the disease was very low when they took over and due to stopping very limited culling of Badgers we are now with massive problem in lots of animals it seems also I think that this cull would not have been his preference but it was probably a compromise as what lots of people might let him hopefully in his opinion do.
    I think we will be forced in time to take much stronger measures sad as that may be.Ideally we would vaccinate but cannot see that happening as we need to catch every Badger probably every year even if we had a vaccine and also if it was effective.
    One thing these culls have shown us is it is very difficult to catch Badgers which in a way ironically will go against vaccination.
    The one thing I can never understand is why oh why have we no figures of the level of the disease in Badgers as surely especially after the cull we should have evidence.Makes me wonder if it is extremely high or extremely low and they do not want us to know.

    1. Why are cattle not vaccinated against TB? This is not explained. Is there some medical reason whereby something dangerous can be passed through the food chain from a vaccine.

      1. Diapensia – no that’s not it. An effective vaccine doesn’t exist but,as I understand it, farmers don’t favour a vaccine because it would lead to curtailment of our ability to export live cattle. What do others understand about this? Trimbush?

        1. afaik – control of bTB is needed to protect the export market. Apparently it is quite difficult to acquire TB from an infected bovine no matter how hard you try, and pasteurisation and cooking take care of the small risk. So the risk to human health is relatively small but a much bigger risk to a farm business lies in a bTB test fail – which will disrupt cash flow, genetic improvement and possibly lead to compulsory slaughter of the whole herd, which is not compensated at market rates.

          It would be helpful to know what the net benefit to the economy is for the export trade set against the cost to the taxpayer.

        2. I believe the problem with respect to export would be because serological tests would not necessarily distinguish between antibody reactions due to vaccination-acquired immunity and those due to infection with the disease. Importers could not be confident that imported cattle were disease free.

          I am not certain of this and I’d be happy to stand corrected if this is wrong.

  14. Zac Goldsmith crossing the floor to join Caroline Lucas? Now that would be interesting! 🙂

    In the meantime – go Caroline!

  15. Nick Clegg is kind to vermin, his coalition partners, as they are to him in the same cateogry.

    1. I understood a test does now exist (the DIVA test) that would enable an infected animal to be distinguished from a vaccinated one. The test is not yet licensed in the eu and government have diverted funding from field trials to culling?

  16. It’s a shame there was no place for Richard Benyon on this list. He really did lead a robust reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, and (with little fanfare) managed to lead the charge to close a loophole on shark-finning at sea and get the International Whaling Commission to implement some very robust regulation.

    The MCZ process was flawed from the start, and not by Defra.

  17. Although I think Caroline Lucas is great I’m going to buck the British love of ganging up on the weak, and vote for Nick Clegg.

    I suspect there is more than a grain of truth in his claim that the LibDems protected Natural England from merger with the EA. Whilst in these dark times Natural England may not be the vocal champion for conservation that many of us would like it to be, buried in the EA the voice it does have would have shrunk to little more than a whisper.

  18. Owen Paterson?? – Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahahhahahhahahahahahahahahhahahahahahaahhahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahhahah *breathe* BWWWAAaaahahahahahahhhahahahahahahhahahahahahahahhhhahahahahahahhahahahhahahahhaaaaaaaahhhahahahahahaa

  19. Owen Patterson cares nothing for popularity unlike Mr Avery, he is determined to see the UK livestock industry in good order to feed a growing population. If that pressing need requires the dispatch of some Badgers, then so be it, not all, just some.
    As no country that has controlled TB, eg, NZ, Canada, Australia, USA has done it without controlling the wildlife TB vector, why should the UK be any different ?
    Patterson also understands that there is no TB vaccine for cattle and there is no evidence that vaccinating badgers will reduce TB in cattle.
    We all have many problems, a hungry person has just one. We have, for too long , taken for granted a plentiful supply of cheap safe food.

    1. Tim – welcome. Your first comment here, despite much ‘chat’ on Twitter?

      A politician who cares nothing for popularity is quite unusual, particularly in a democracy. But you could be right about Owen Paterson – he certainly seems intent on upsetting as many potential Tory voters as possible. Well done, I say?

      You may call me Mark (I feel after all that Twittering that I almost know you), but if you wish to be formal then Dr Avery would be better.

  20. Even in the unlikely event that St Francis himself was a Tory MP, to vote for a Tory under any circumstance is a nail in the coffin of UK wildlife. If this nasty bloodthirsty government are voted in in 2015 with a workable majority, they will repeal the hunting Act and decimate the badger population across the country. Nothing will be done to save animals from the torment of live export and we will see mega dairies and quite possibly the return of fur farming. The only decent Tory MP is one in opposition. Don’t vote for a Tory for any reason, even an animal loving one in a poll such as this.

  21. Well looking at social media this online vote has been hijacked by the pro cull brigade, with a few call to arms on Twitter. Don’t be surprised if Patterson actually wins!

    1. I doubt Patterson will win but how utterly reprehensible if people really have been encouraging people to vote in the poll for a candidate!

      That does seem to be a fundamental problem with polls and indeed also democratic systems. They get hijacked by one group of people who think one thing casting more votes than other groups of people that think other things.

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