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darthsquirrel.jpgI have mixed feelings about grey squirrels. They're dire news for the reds, and it would be far better if they'd not arrived here from the US. On the other hand, they are still very cute.

If you're a peer, though, you may look at them rather differently. Today's Observer has a piece about the War On Squirrels conducted by Lord Redesdale, the Liberal spokesman on the environment in our absurd upper house. 

He's got it in for the greys, and his colleagues in the Lords reach for some familiar metaphors.

Lady Saltoun, for one, has got class war on her mind: "Red squirrels are rather like quiet, well-behaved people who do not make a nuisance or an exhibition of themselves, or commit crimes, and so do not get themselves into the papers in the vulgar way grey squirrels do."

Lord Chorley implied Godwin, inevitably: "There are three colonies, if that is the right word, in Italy. At least one of them is in the process of crossing the Alps. If they get to Germany there will be a complete invasion taking place."

Lord Inglewood continued in an even more explicit version of the same metaphor: "The red squirrels have had Chamberlains and not Churchills! But it is Churchills that they need!"

I'm not sure Lord Redesdale shooting a squirrel in the head from two inches away can be equated with Churchill's efforts, but it's a great read, with the superstitious pest controller, the dubious funding application, the enthusiastic old dears with blood on the patio, and the "spatchcocked" squirrel in the frying pan. Despite the bloodthirsty joy clearly experienced by our brave squirrel-hunters, you can see their logic. 

Like the squirrels this mob sell to restaurants, though, the House of Lords should clearly carry the standard warning: may contain nuts.

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This page was published on October 19, 2008 10:51 AM.

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