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Paul Routledge on Syria: Bombing Damascus would have put Britain under threat. While Britain dithered on the brink of war against Syria, all some people cared about was the fate of disease-ridden badgers. David Cameron was desperate to join a US air assault on Damascus after President Assad attacked his own people with poison gas. The Coalition has also sanctioned a trial cull of badgers in isolated parts of the West Country in a bid to stamp out TB in cows. This has caused an outcry among furry creature lovers. They threaten to disrupt the programme and public

ly shame the farmers who allow it. Anti-cull nutters have already torched a 16million firearms training centre. But the animal rights brigade doesn’t seem to worry that we may soon be into the third war – a real, shooting conflict, not just a pest cull – in less than 15 years. What’s happened to our sense of proportion? Let’s be clear – UK collusion in air strikes on the Syrian capital would have been an act of war. Nobody, not the service chiefs and certainly not the politicians in yesterday’s panic recall of Parliament know where thi

s would end. Tony Blair fans the flames of conflict. How predictable. Bomber Blair is the greatest armchair general ever to have sat in 10 Downing Street. Dodgy Dave didnt produce a dodgy dossier, but he talks just like his predecessor, mouthing meaningless platitudes like: “We can’t stand idly by.” Well, we’ve stood idly by the civil war in Syria for more than two years, and not a hair on a British head has been harmed. Bombing Damascus might well have changed that. British interests will come under threat. Heaven forbid this aerial assault could result in terrorist attacks right here at home. If a suicide bomber strikes at Westminster Tube station, MPs will regret any rush to judgment on military intervention. Ed Miliband has reined in the dogs of war, for now. A commons vote for military action in principle last night would have been a one-way street to hostilities. Thankfully that didn’t happen. Meanwhile, animal rights barmpots are fighting their own private war in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Their battlefield is the site of badger setts, targeted by marksmen this week to reduce the spread of disease. Up to 50% of these wild creatures are TB-infected. They pass it on, and are in large part responsible for the slaughter of 38,000 cows, at a cost of 100million last year. But in

animal-mad Britain, the life of one sick badger is worth more than any number of dairy cows, not to mention the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and their families. Get real, you people. I’m old enough to remember milk sold as TT – tuberculin tested – as a health reassurance to consumers. And I don’t want those days to come back. The interests of wildlife cannot be put above those of the human population. One of these burning conflicts involves a handful of shooters in the English countryside with a specific, medical objective. The other involves cruise missiles, an incalculable loss of human life in an unstable part of the world and limitless consequences. One is wise, and one is unwise. Guess which. Syria Confli

ctView gallery The hs2 twintown riddle Network Rail claims that 100 towns will benefit from better services if the multi-zillion HS2 link from London to Birmingham and northern England is built. I never believe comfortably round figures, so I asked where they are. The answer is illuminating. Some of them – like London – are cripplingly obvious. Others are not. Some, like the tiny villages of Drem and Prestonpans, are in Scotland, more than 100 miles north of the line’s proposed terminus in Leeds. Others, such as Cleethorpes and Boston in Lincolnshire are many mi

les east of HS2’s planned route, while Swindon and Bristol are way over to the west. Winchester and Southampton are down south. And Meadowhall is a shopping centre, not a place. Some appear twice – or even three times – in this hocus-pocus list. Wakefield, Rugeley and Luton all get a double mention, while Milton Keynes is in there as Milton, Keynes and Milton Keynes. Warrington is another tripler. Ludicrous. If you eliminate make-weight offerings like Langley Mill – I didn’t know it still had a railway station – and the obvious calling points, you’re left with Toton, today a marshalling yard in the wilds of Nottinghamshire, but tomorrow “a booming new town”. And that’s about it. As a railwayman’s son, I’m in favour of more railways. As a taxpayer being asked to fill a cash hole potentially 80billion deep, I’m not impressed with Network Rail’s clever-dick propaganda. Boomtown rats, if you ask me. Tory Erics underhand trick Tory heavyweight Eric Pillockles (I think that’s his name) wants to scrap automatic deduction of trade union subs for civil servants belonging to the PCS union who work in his Local

Government Department. This underhand trick is designed to drive down union membership and influence, and will be challenged in the High Court next week. It is the thin end of a very nasty wedge. Shame of Test cricketers Its worse than football, which is saying something. England’s Test stars peeing on the Oval pitch is just not cricket. But would we have known about their juvenile behaviour if an alert Aussie journalist had not reported it? The supine British press tried to pretend it didn’t happen. It’s an ale of two cities You pay 65p more for a pint in pubs in the South than in the No

rth. I knew there was a good reason why I left London and came back to live in Yorkshire. Naylor’s Pinnacle Ale in the Olde White Bear has just gone up 10p, to 2.70, amid much Tyke grumbling, but it’s still a quid cheape

r than the capital. Cheers! I had some excellent real ale with Mirror readers in Huddersfield t’other day. This town must have the only railway station in Britain with not just one but two pubs, both serving a variety of locally-produced beers. Outside, a statue of local hero Harold Wilson turns his back on us topers, but then he was always a cigars and brandy man, despite the beer and sandwiches image. Dubya the Martian We are all descendants of Martians, says an American scientist, bec

ause life arrived here on a meteorite from the Red Planet. There had to be a rational explanation for George Dubya Bush (remember him?), who looks like the Mekon from Eagle comic, and this must be it. Ching ching for the Chinese panda suppliers Edinburgh Zoo’s giant panda Tian Tian is about to give birth, her keepers predict. Whatever its sex, the cub should be called Ching Ching, after the cheery music of the turnstile tills – and the huge fees charged by the Chinese government to bring this temperamental brute to Scotland. Prince lab rat Scientists in Austria have created a test tube “miniature brain”. I hear it’s a transplant job for Prince Andrew, to cure his obsession with Fergie. A publicist (who else).. ...for Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas says the couple are “taking some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage”. Devastating. Heartbreaking. Or not, as the case may be.

Two fact

s to remember when you vote Two statistics to take into the polling booth next time you vote: The average

income in the UK has fallen by 1,350 a year since the Tory-led coalition came to power and 27% of firms now employ

people on zero-hours contracts, and the figure is rising.

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