The Hedgehog hokey-cokey

In or Out – as with previous elections it is important to learn from those nearest and dearest to help inform your decisions. As we have seen before, hedgehogs have a natural tendency of hedgehogs to vote Green, but the looming referendum presents a slightly different range of questions …

Hedgehogs are, mostly, fairly grumpy, solitary and smelly – so you could be forgiven for thinking this would suggest they were natural bed-fellows of Nigel Farage. They are a quintessentially British animal, we revere the hedgehog and it is the most popular species in the country – it is, therefore, important to know the truth.

And the truth is rather straightforward. For all the faults of the EU, for all of the very well paid bureaucrats and for all of the waste that comes with shifting offices back and forth there is a measure that we cannot ignore, and the hedgehogs most certainly do not.

Politicians in this country, particularly those on the right, HATE restrictions on ‘development’. Cameron declared a desire to ‘get rid of all that green crap‘ – or at least is alleged to. That ‘green crap’ is the fine line that keeps the biodiversity in this country as protected as it is – and if it goes, there will be an unfettered assault on the natural world. Roads, agriculture, fracking and housing will lose some of the very minor shackles that keep them in check.

The EU is flawed, but being outside it will see much of what we love threatened to an even greater extent than it already is. And this might be enough for a hedgehog to decide. Remember also that our hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, is the Western European Hedgehog – it is an animal of Europe.

But there is one other argument that must be considered. Who would you rather have round for dinner? Nigel Farage, Nigel Lawson, Boris Johnson or Michael Gove? Or Caroline Lucas? This is actually one of the easiest decisions of all!

Caroline Lucas


Breaking news …

I think you are not allowed to release new polling data on the day of an election, but as you will probably know, hedgehogs are notoriously slow at responding. So it is only now that the results are in and I can reveal the startling news that ….. hedgehogs around the country are near unanimous in voting Green.

There was a time when many hedgehogs were seduced by the silvery words of David Cameron – he promised the ‘greenest government ever’. But then he imposed the arch-enemy of the natural world, Owen Paterson, as Environment boss … for a short while hedgehogs thought this was some sort of elaborate joke – about like Donald Trump running for the Whitehouse … until the truth emerged and ‘all that green crap’ started to be dismantled.

As George Monbiot said: “The final shred of credibility of “the greenest government ever” has been doused in petrol and ignited with a casual flick of a gold-plated lighter. The appointment of Owen Paterson as Environment Secretary, is a declaration of war on the environment, and another sign that the right of the party – fiercely opposed to anything that prevents business from doing as it wishes – has won.”

There was a time when hedgehogs were tempted by the moderate words of Nick Clegg – he seemed so reasonable on all the key issues – friends to everyone. Whatever happened to him?

A few generations ago I met some hedgehogs who were partial to new Labour – Tony Blair, bright-eyed and evangelical was seducing some of the suburban hedgehogs into thinking that he might present a solution to the massive housing shortage that has followed rapacious industrialisation of agriculture. But he turned out to be just like all the others too.

Clearly there are some hedgehogs who are rather insular in their outlook – who do not take kindly to incomers (all those African Pygmy Hedgehogs, coming over here and clogging up the internet with cute buck teeth, or setting up cafes). And for them the easy lure of the fascist had, for a short while, the potential to swing a few votes. But even hedgehogs are not stupid enough to vote for UKIP.

And that leaves, for hedgehogs in England at least, only one option – it has to be the Green Party. They are the only political party to have a deep understanding of what underpins everything we do – and that is not the economy. It is the ecology on which the economy rides. As the ecological economist Herman Daly said:

“Once you sit down and draw a little picture of the economy as a subset of the larger ecosystem, then you’re halfway home as far as ecological economics is concerned. That’s why people resist doing that,” he says. “That means you would have to say well, there are limits, we’re not going to be able to grow forever. That means the economy must have some optimal scale relative to the larger system. That means you don’t grow beyond the optimum. How do we stop growing? What do we do? These are very threatening questions.”

Without this rudimentary understanding of the way the world works, no political party can be trusted with power. So – if you can – get out there and vote Green – it is what the hedgehogs would want!



Atomic weapons, hedgehogs and a measure of humanity

I was only half-joking when I wrote in the Guardian last week that we should judge our politicians on their relationship to hedgehogs. It should be a measure of all people who aim to set themselves in authority to us, how they view the natural world. It does not have to be a passion for hedgehogs, though obviously that helps in terms of getting my vote, but it has to be an awareness, a concern – oh, here I go again, beating around the bush – a love for the natural world.

As I have written before, it is absurd in the extreme to love money above life – but that is the class of people who govern us now.

The measure of a person – there is one celebrity I met last year who has just rocketed in my opinion. Already I was a fan of the very lovely actor, John Hurt when I met him at the Royal Horticultural Show at Hampton Court and asked him to come to our Hedgehog Street garden (which won loads of awards!).

But he has just surpassed himself. Because there is another measure I think just as important – and that is one attitude towards nuclear weapons. The lust for megadeath that drives the supporters of a weapon system that in no way makes any sense at all still lives in the heart of many in power. For most, though, the issue has slipped from the agenda – there are other pressing issues of environmental and social justice to consider.

Those that still care enough to take action have been out this morning – shutting down the Atomic Weapons Establishment factory at Burghfield.

The campaign, Action AWE, has some very notable supporters including Ken Loach and the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool – but who is at the top of the list? Our very own hedgehog-loving John Hurt.

Oh – and which political party is the only one that is serious about tackling the silly waste of money represented in this extreme example of the military-industrial complex? The Greens of course. They love hedgehogs and hate nuclear weapons. Some decisions are complicated, but not the choice of party we would want. And an indication that the establishment is getting concerned about the possibility we in the UK might see more sense came this morning when US army chief General Odierno said we are not spending enough making things to kill people. Love life, love hedgehogs, vote green. Simple.

cause for celebration

Due to a spike in the number of votes received by Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion, Green Party), hedgehogs around the country are preparing for a night of feasting and dancing. As mentioned on these very pages only a few days ago, just one party stands up for the rights of hedgehogs with any true integrity. Only one party is willing to challenge the status quo of continued increases in consumption, tackled climate change as if it were important, fight inequality and lower the buttons at road crossings so hedgehogs can reach (or was that the monster raving loonies?) – anyway – a cause for great delight and rejoicing as the most honest and hard-working politician I have ever met is now going to stir things up at Westminster. I do not (as yet) have a picture of her with a hedgehog – but here she is with my dearly beloved:

I think she might have earned a copy of my book for this … will have to get one in the post.

who would a hedgehog vote for?

If ever there was evidence needed for the importance of hedgehogs, then it has come with the launch of the Labour Party election manifesto. We now have broken out of the niche – hedgehogs are mainstream …

It is only a matter of time that ‘Support the hedgehog’ becomes ‘Save the hedgehog, save the world’ … and at that point I will know I have been well and truly thieved.

Should it bother me? Well, it is easy to see why the Labour spin doctors have chosen the hedgehog – they see it as the most charismatic and benign of the country’s fauna – everyone loves a hedgehog.

But who would a hedgehog vote for?

Even though I have a recollection of the Monster Raving Loony Party calling for the lowering of the buttons on traffic lights, to enable hedgehogs to press them and facilitate their crossing … I am not sure there is quite enough coherence in the overall environmental and wildlife strategies to seduce most right-thinking hogs.

Tories? Well, there is a streak of green running through that party – the old-school conservatives were and are frequently into many of the things that hedgehogs like – countryside, hedges etc – even if the motivations are rather suspect, driven more often than not by a desire to kill something for fun. But – arch-Tory Ann Widdecombe is a very keen hedgehog supporter. She insisted that on her 60th birthday her friends did not give her presents, but donate money to the BHPS. I met her and chatted about this – she is, despite some rather less-pleasant views, a delightfully intelligent and slightly intimidating woman with more than a toe slipping over the line between animal welfare and animal rights. Another surprising Tory supporter was that ‘semi-house-trained polecat’ (thanks Michael Foot for that) Norman Tebbit.

Though I wonder whether the Tory love of nature may in part be motivated by a general misanthropism.

Liberal Democrats should be pretty green, mainly with envy at the other two main parties hoarding the votes, but their local track-record is not as pleasant as it should be given the generally benign nature of their presentation. I will need to read a little more about them to see if they really do have anything to offer the hedgehog.

Labour? Well, the closest they have come to supporting hedgehog-rights is in their video! Though under their leadership the hedgehog has been upgraded to a priority species on the Biodiversity Action Plan (even if this means nothing unless I and my colleagues get on and do something about it).

But none of the three main parties seems to have grasped the bigger picture – that will appeal most to hedgehogs (and wildlife around the country). It is impossible to have a sustainable environment – one in which wildlife is able to flourish and is not at risk of being wiped out by development and climate change – without addressing the central tenet of capitalism. Growth – growth cannot go on forever – it is a biological imperative – growth has to stop at some point. In our body, when there is growth that does not follow basic biological laws, we have CANCER. Society that is driven to consume more and more – and industry that collapses without continual growth – is all completely doomed to failure.

The big problem for us is that politicians do not give a damn – they are going to be in power for a brief moment – and they want to hold onto as much power as they can in that time. They are not giving a thought to what is going to happen to their children’s children. Politics is so obscenely focussed on the short term interests of the greedy and so depressingly ignorant (or uncaring) of the long term impacts of their actions that it is hard to find a voice to turn to …

And that leaves the Greens. Can they? Will they earn their first seat in the House of Commons? In Brighton there is one of the most honest and hard-working people I have ever met – Caroline Lucas. And she is in with a real chance. We are not going to get a Green government any time soon – but I think it is to the Greens we must look if we want to find a party that is truly on the side of the hedgehogs (oh, and the rest of us too!)