bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Monday, May 02, 2005

Bees an election issue in Britain!

It's the British General Election on Thursday and, bizarre as it may seem, the issue of bees has entered the fray.

You may remember that over a year ago I berated a rather ignorant Labour Party Chairman, Ian McCartney, for dismissing the significance of bees to the UK economy. Well, the Labour Party is at it again.

At its morning press conference, the Labour Party gave journalists a list of “100 spending commitments the Liberal Democrats can't fund because their sums don't add up”.

I'm glad to say that Matthew Tempest of The Guardian newspaper quoted one of these spending commitments in full and added his own caustic comment (thanks for the link, Martin):
“Bees. Twickenham has one of the best bee keeping centres in the country. Many local people support it. Benefits from bees' natural pollination activities are enormous, worth billions of pounds. There is however negligible research into damaging diseases and I have pressed the ministry of agriculture for a bigger research commitment.”

With all due respect to Labour, if that counts as an “uncosted Lib Dem spending commitment”, then I hear the sound of barrel bottoms being scraped.
Maybe a bit of context will help -- and in any case gives me a rare chance to opine about British party politics:

The election is on Thursday. Labour seems bound to get back into power although Tony Blair may not last too long in the top job. The Labour Party has moved so far right that the Conservative Party (the biggest opposition party) doesn't know where to go and resorted to xenophobia. The Liberal Democrats (the third biggest party and traditionally the centre party) have moved to the left of Labour and are likely to pick up votes from disaffected Labour supporters (and there are many especially because of Iraq) and even Conservative supporters who can't stomach their current leader and his policies. Labour is getting worried that the Lib-Dems will take too many of its votes and allow the Conservatives in -- or maybe even that the Lib-Dems will become the main (and more effective) opposition. Hence the barrel-bottom scraping.


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