Real life

Why I'd never own a rabbit hutch – or vote Green

And why it's so hard to explain that to my parents

2 May 2015

9:00 AM

2 May 2015

9:00 AM

‘I suppose,’ said my dad philosophically, ‘I could always vote Green.’

‘Oh, for goodness sake! Not you as well!’ I screamed, as the entire restaurant looked round to see what manner of family crisis was brewing at our table.

‘Look, dad, it’s very simple. Do you agree with 60 per cent income tax?’

‘Of course not,’ said dad, a look of deep concern on his face. ‘Well then. Enough of this “ooh, the Greens are harmless, aren’t they? They like animals and trees and they don’t have any particular views about anything important one way or the other so they wouldn’t make much difference.”’ Stop! The Greens are harmless the way Stalin was harmless. They want to take all your money and use it to fund such hair-brained schemes as Monty Python sketches are made of. They want to prosecute pet shops for selling rabbit hutches!’

And I slammed my hand down to emphasise my point, sending cutlery flying. To be clear, I don’t like rabbit hutches. My rabbit always lived free in the house, and used a dog flap into the garden, and sat on the sofa with me watching Friends every evening, eating Maltesers. But let’s face it, I’m a weirdo. Not every family in Britain who buys a pet rabbit for their kids can dedicate their lives to ensuring it reaches its full potential as an artificially maintained lagomorph in captivity: ‘Where are the rest of the rabbits to live once the hutches have been banned? I’ll tell you where. Nowhere. They want to do away with rabbits. And that’s before they even get started on horse-racing.’

Pretty much every diner in the restaurant was staring at us now. The waiters looked cross that I was disturbing the ambiance but I felt justified. This used to be a Harvester and was perfectly fine while it contented itself with directing us to the salad bar, where we could top our shredded lettuce with croutons that we suspected weren’t decent but nevertheless secretly enjoyed. But now it has changed hands and someone with pretensions of grandeur has taken over in the kitchen and I had just been refused butter by a snotty waitress as she served us a platter of fashionably torn hunks of dry bread and weirdly too-green olives.

‘But this bread is horrible without butter,’ I had protested.

‘We don’t do butter, madam,’ she said, as if I were something the rabbit had dragged in through the dog flap. And she nodded to the little white ramekin of olive oil sitting beside the blasted wooden tasting board on which languished the oh-so-casually torn pain rustique.

‘If you’re intimating that I’m good to dip my bread in that you’re mistaken. It’s like water. Not at all the quality of extra virgin one would use as a dipping oil.’

But she had walked off. Dad broke off a chunk of not quite crusty bread and made a face to signal that he was enjoying it. ‘I know you’re not enjoying that,’ I told him.

‘Look, let’s just make the best of it. They mean well.’

‘That’s what people are saying about the Green party. That’s how it starts.’

‘Oh dear, let’s talk about something else,’ said mum.

I agreed. The whole question of how we, the disenfranchised of Middle Britain, were going to vote while we waited for our home to be destroyed by HS2 was so fraught I could barely stand it.

We sat in silence for a few minutes then realised there was nothing else we wanted to talk about.

‘What I don’t understand,’ said dad, ‘is why I can’t find out if there is a Ukip candidate standing in our area.’

‘For the last time!’ exclaimed my mother, ‘I’ve told you, there is! I saw a Ukip poster in the town the other day.’

‘Oh,’ said dad, with a face that said he wished that made his dilemma better but now he thought about it, he wasn’t sure it did. He bit into another hunk of dry bread and chewed uncomplainingly.

Just an everyday scene, really. We could have been any dyed-in-the-wool Tory family sitting down to dinner in any butter-free restaurant with pretensions in the heart of England, worrying about which barmy minority party to vote for in protest.

We sat in silence. I thought about hutches, and how I actually do wish people wouldn’t put rabbits in them. I once stopped a Labour environment minister in a Commons corridor and harangued him about hutches — ‘Would you put your cat in one, hmm?’ — until he crept away from me sideways, with his back pressed against the wall. Yes, in principle, I’m all for a hutch-less Britain. It just seems a bit of a jump from that to wrecking the economy. I guess you can’t have everything.

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  • Molly NooNar

    This wrecking the economy is interesting. You’re talking about a party with hardly any resources, fighting as best it can against multi-million pound funded political parties and you feel the need to invent strawmen to knock down in order to try and discredit it?

    What is principally wrong with taxing people that earn more than £150k a year 60%, Melissa? The Greens don’t propose it because it will make the most money for the public purse, they’d be delighted if nobody paid it! The Greens want to reduce the gap between rich and poor. They want to discourage companies from paying ludicrous sums of money to a few workers while refusing to even pay their other staff a living wage. A classic example is the obscenity that is football clubs that are rolling in money, paying their players millions of pounds but refusing to pay their staff a living wage. Taxing these primadonnas 60% is just what the doctor ordered.

    The Greens oppose HS2 and fracking and these obscene Tory planning laws, a good start I would think for many rural communities that want to keep them that way.

    • Jethro Asquith

      What a load of poppycock

    • Fried Ch’i

      Listen ladette, the facts haven’t changed.

      Fact One:
      The single most important reason why the Green Party manifesto was conceived was to make the Labour Party manifesto look sane.

      Fact Two:
      You can vote Green all you like, you’re a one hit wonder, you won’t ever get into Parliament again. Sorry. That’s democracy.

      PS: you cannot be serious wanting to take rail back into public ownership. Don’t you remember British Rail?

      • Molly NooNar

        We are already in parliament and eradicating the Labour scourge of our existence will be empowering and improvement to the lives of all.

        The East Coast Mainline was running a nationalised service until the autumn when the Tories privatised it. It was paying a profit to the tax payer (not some shareholders) and it had equal satisfaction ratings with the private operators of the line on the equivalent lines.

        • Fried Ch’i

          Don’t we all know how the continentals run their trains, ladette. I think a few million people have already pointed out how good they are compared to the British ‘PFI’ system paying Branson’s pension.

          We don’t need any Greens in Westminster to tell us that.

          • Ivan Ewan

            What, you’re not going to top it off by calling her a tory troll?

          • Dogsnob

            It seems that ‘ladette’ is his label de la jour.

          • freddiethegreat

            Mussolini springs to mind.

        • Mr B J Mann

          “The environment and its wildlife has been perenially ignored. Wildlife populations have plummeted over consecutive decades and our political class don’t care.”

          The “greens” (small “g”) say that the sustainable population of the UK is 24 million.


          Some say it’s only 17 million.

          That’s SEVENTEEN, *NOT* 70 million!

          All my life, and I’m approaching retirement age, the liberals” and the “progressives have been insisting that the country is so full that there isn’t room to dig even one more quarry.

          That it’s so over-developed that there isn’t room for even one more house.

          In fact, they’ve sworn blind that if we build so much as one more inch, that’s a single two and a half centimetres, about, to you, o f road, we will have completely concreted and tarmacked over the entire nation.

          That’s why:

          “Wildlife populations have plummeted over consecutive decades”.
          So, if you want more wildlife, and more “green”, can you confirm that:
          The Greens are going to close our borders (including to the EU).
          Send gunboats to the Med to sink any people traffickers boats that look like they might be going to make it to the mainland.
          Pump cyanide into the back of all trucks entering the country.
          Put flame-throwers between the tracks on the Channel Tunnel.
          Repatriate all immigrants that get through.
          Including all those already here.
          And their children.
          And grandchildren.
          Deport all indigenous criminals.
          And then Euthanise all indigenous grannies and granddads until we get down to a population of 24 million:
          Or do you prefer 17 million?!?!?

        • Mr B J Mann

          O – *M* – – **G** ?!?!?!?!

          “The East Coast Mainline was running a nationalised service until the autumn when the Tories privatised it. It was paying a profit to the tax payer (not some shareholders)”


          It was making an OPERATING profit.


          ON WHICH it was paying SOME tax back to the tax payer

          Give me strength.

          Talk about “green”?!?!?!?!

          “All of the European countries show how successful a nationalised model can be- they all have them!”

          They all have highly subsidised ones.

          But the reason that they can afford the subsidies are two-fold:

          Firstly, they have a basic strategic national rail system over distances that make rail practical and efficient.

          They DON’T try to run a local bus service with heavy rail!

          Try looking at the mileages of rail our Continental cousins have, compared to the size and population of their countries:

          You’ll find that the UK has one of the longest lengths of track pro rata!

          Conversely they have far more extensive motorway and trunk road systems, and far more in the way of ring roads and urban distributor roads, meaning that traffic doesn’t have to spend a large chunk of its life wasting time and money crawling through congested cities, so their economies don’t suffer the same hit as ours does.

          In fact, we deliberately design congestion into our transport “planning”, which doesn’t just increase pollution and accidents, but it massively increases traffic!

          And because their rail roads, and their ordinary roads, are so much more efficient, and because they have, relatively, so much less rail road, they can afford to spend so much more on their rail roads!

      • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

        I remember British rail. Much cheaper, less crowded, more puntual with a much lower Government subsidy than now.

      • Dogsnob

        I do like Fact One.

    • Mr B J Mann

      “What is principally wrong with taxing people that earn more than £150k a year 60%”

      Perhaps you could tell us, Molly?

      First, tell us who you think are the nicer people:

      Nasty evil fat-cats, bankers, and other robber money-barons?

      Or nice cuddly lefty comedians, liberal TV talent, charitable pop stars and other right-on progressives, including left wing politicians?!

      Now answer me this:

      If everyone from Tony Blair, Red Ken Livingstone, that bloke from Militant in Liverpool, through BBC presenters and newsreaders, rock musicians and even the Banker-bashing Jimmy Carr try every tax avoidance trick in the book to avoid paying 40%, never mind 50% tax:

      What makes you think that any nasty evil fat-cats, bankers, and other robber money-barons are going to pay 60%.
      Especially as they have access to far more aggressive tax avoidance schemes, not to mention illegal tax evasion strategies?!?!?
      PS I’m looking for an answer that applies here in the real world on Planet Earth, not in some green sub sixth-form debate fantasy world!
      Rumour has it that Labour “calculated” that the 50% tax hike would bring in an extra £7 Billion.
      Well, rumour also has it that he got the £7 Billion right.
      Unfortunately it was a £SEVEN BILLION FALL in tax revenues!?!?!?!?
      Oh, and don’t be fooled by any talk of how many £Million (that’s “M”illion, NOT *B*ILLION!) extra the 50% rate brought in.
      Not everyone is going to leave the country with all of there money overnight.
      So some fat cats will still pay 50% rather than 40%.
      So the Treasury will still rake in a few £*M*illion “extra” from the extra 10% on the income that still gets paid over £150,000.
      But it will be a fraction of the £*B*ILLIONS lost that would have been paid and could have been taxed at 40%.
      And as even Jimmy and Co try to avoid 40% tax, how much extra would be brought in by a flat rate tax system.
      We also have the example of France:
      When Holland upped income tax:
      Did loads of UK fat-cats flock to France?
      Or did loadsa fat Frogs flee from it?!?!?!
      If you ever grow up and get a proper job, with real workers, salt of the earth, trade union types, you’ll find the main topic of conversation on a pay day following overtime is to complain that what they get after tax, without the tax-free allowance distorting the picture, isn’t worth getting out of bed for, and they don’t see why they should bust a gut to line the Chancellor’s pockets.
      If they won’t do that after basic rate tax is deducted, what makes you think the people in charge of paying them, who can work from anywhere in the world, and probably already have several homes dotted around it, are going to pay 50% tax, never mind 60%.
      Your hare-brained scheme won’t make the rich poorer:
      But it will make the state bankrupt!

      • Yorkieeye

        High taxes mean that people have less disposable income, which is shared in the purchase of goods and services (thereby creating jobs in the private sector) bought from other citizens. Money given over in taxes is spent on meaningless job creation in the public sector and harebrained schemes to oppress the nation. Not to mention financial rewards for the political class.

    • Tom M

      Molly, read the post below by Mr BJ Mann. I was reaching for my file on European railways to respond to your notions on railway perfection in the UK (after having tried nationalisation for some 60 years and failed you’ve got some nerve) when I read it. He did it much better than I could.

    • Seldom Seen

      I’ll happily explain what’s wrong with taxing people who earn more than 150K a year at 60%: some of us got to earn that sort of money through sheer, bloody hard work, denying ourselves a lot of things lesser mortals take for granted (holidays, for instance), in order to make something of ourselves and do the best for our families. If you think, after all that sweat and aggravation, I’m going to give 60% of my gross income to fund a bloated NHS, a mis-managed economy, an out-of-control benefits system and a bunch of idlers, then dream on …

      • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

        You don’t .Nobody pays 60% of their gross income. Thye would be paying 60% of the taxable bit of their income over £150,000 .So someone on £250,000pa who pays 10% into a pension pays 60% of £75,000, or £45,000. Their marginal rate is only 38.5%.
        The aim is to send a clear signal that snout in trough avarice is unacceptable ….and it is not sufficient to keep bleating “but I have worked very hard” as nobody is that deserving.

    • Greens want unlimited immigration but no additional housing development. Work that one out.

  • James Abbott

    It is Green Party policy to ban the small metal cages used for rabbit factory farming. But as with several other Green policies, its been twisted for political purposes to make us look wacky. Quite the reverse – the majority of people agree that intensive factory farming is wrong.

  • siyeats

    The writer of this article has totally missed the point. The Green Party manifesto states that they want to ban rabbit cages in relation to farming. They do not mention rabbit hutches or rabbits as companion animals. As it happens I believe that there should be legislation with regards to the size and quality of rabbit hutches sold for pets but that is a different topic.

    • Mr B J Mann

      How many rabbit farms are there in the UK?

      And how many rabbits do they have on them?

      And in what size cages?!?!

      Or are you a typical townie and can’t tell a rabbit from a rooster?!?!?!

    • I think it’s a tongue-in-cheek article.

    • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

      Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
      Abolish tuition fees. £10 min wage. £200 a week pension. Renationalise railways and utility companies. 60% top rate on the rich. Ditch Trident. Build some windmills. What is not to like?

      • Dogsnob

        I like the rabbit stuff better.

    • Dogsnob

      A ‘companion animal’? Is that a pet?

  • Precambrian

    The Green party claims it only wishes to ban the rabbit farm cages, but if you read the manifesto as a whole it is clear that their values go a lot further than that (hence their wanting to ban coarse fishing and push a veggie diet). So when they say they want sport shooting banned, you know it is only a step towards all shooting being banned….because despite saying that they accept hunting for food we know that their other policies clearly show their intent (veggieness all round).

    Like with their ideas on copyright; which they originally said was to be only for 14 years after publication….and then backpeddled when their iPod supporters complained (so now its “14 years after the death of the author”). All in a staggering bit of disingenuous two-facedness.

    Then there is the way that they want prostitution to be completely legal. Yes that really is a manifesto commitment.

    And of course they want to see free movement of people around europe, and the world if they could (making the transmission of an epidemic an absolute certainty in the next 50 years). Well, I suppose that would boost the prostitution economy….so long as the hookers don’t wear real fur.

  • Dave m

    i must apologise I’m not British, and I don’t live in the UK. i do feel for you however, poor (socialist) governments and special interest groups have decimated Australia as well. I dream of a time when voting is only permitted, and scaled to, taxpayers. The more tax paid, the more votes you get. An incentive to pay pre tax, because you get to have a part in managing where its spent. For those poor people who don’t pay tax, or very little, then they can work to make their children better taxpayers when its their turn to be in the drivers seat.

  • Nobody approves more of banning cages for bunnies and chickens than foxes.

  • James

    Islamophobia serious crime, legislate ISIS in British society, dismantle the British army, mass immigration from Islamic countries, abolish The Queen so Christianity can be replaced by Islam as state religion. The devil is in the detail – harmless you say?

    • Max Permissible

      Harmless because very few people will vote for such a wild manifesto.

    • Ivan Ewan


      • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

        Haremless is when Islamophobia insists on monogamy.

    • Dog called Dill

      Happier bunnies though.

  • The PrangWizard of England

    I might vote for a party that declared cats to be vermin and banned their keeping, and encouraged their being shot on sight.

  • Seldom Seen

    Might be fun to put the entire Green Party in a metal cage. Always best to have these people where you can see them

    • Cyril Sneer

      ISIS stylee…. like it.

  • Lawence James

    Kite and the Greens deserve each other

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Must be terribly difficult to know which party to vote for in the up-coming general election. However, it’s terribly easy to decide which party not to vote for. The paedophile protection party, those wonderful people that brought you child rapists.

  • Mode4

    It’s misleading to pretend the Greens are soft and fluffy and a safe vote. They are anything but. Bennett said she came to England, loved its culture, towns and people. Now she wants to completely change the Country she says she fell in love with. She wants open borders and virtually no defence force, a tradition that has always been synonymous with British tradition and values. Ironically if you believe in British people, values and traditions then the Green’s are not for you. Having said that the same case could be made for LabLib and the Tories are bordering on being suspicious. It’s difficult to find a party that supports the British people anymore.

    • Cyril Sneer


  • Cyril Sneer

    I own a rabbit hutch complete with two rabbits.

    I’m voting UKIP and so are my rabbits.

  • freddiethegreat

    I’d go for UKIP. At least they have a clean record -ie, they have never messed up a country or city. Mind you, nor have the loonies – OMRLP