DEFRA minister Owen Paterson has announced a widespread rewriting of all literary works that contain favourable references to badgers in an attempt to persuade the public that badgers should be shot after all.
'I'm sure most people are only against the badger cull because they've been brainwashed into thinking they're nice, cuddly, friendly creatures' he explained. 'If they'd been taught instead that they're right bastards I'm sure no-one would mind a load of them getting shot - they'd probably even be lining up for a go themselves.'
The problem lies with books such as The Wind in the Willows, according to Mr Paterson. 'One of the main protagonists in the tale is Badger the badger, who's all brave and wise and loyal. We've ordered all copies to be burned immediately and a new revised version to be published instead with a Badger who sells Ratty and Mole into slavery to the Weasels, uses Mr Toad's car to smuggle asylum seekers into the country and generally abuses, swears at, threatens and spits on the gentlefolk of the Riverbank. There may also be some rumours about sexual assaults during his time as a BBC presenter in the 1970s.'
Another fictional badger set for a rewrite is Rupert the Bear's pal Bill Badger, with new stories being penned in which Bill joins a street gang and spends his time trying to get Rupert hooked on crack, knifing Constable Growler, pimping out Podgy Pig and burgling practically every house in Nutwood.
It's not just books that are getting a makeover either - new episodes of the 1990s kids' TV programme Bodger and Badger are also being commissioned, which will see Badger become a fundamentalist Muslim and attempt to blow up Bodger with home-made explosives each week whilst waging a hate campaign against western culture and resisting all attempts to deport him. 'Kids will love it, but hate badgers' beamed Paterson.
The NFU has welcomed the announcement, and has put in a request to DEFRA for foxes, Brian May, vegetarians and people who live in towns and cities to be similarly demonised. Paterson refused to comment on their request, but did confirm that the tactic could be expanded in the future. 'If the idea is a success we may expand it to other parts of society that we'd like to justify shooting,' he said, 'such as the unemployed. All we need to do is think of a TV format that would show them as ugly, cheating, lying, aggressive, toothless, philandering, drug-addled scum. Although, come to think of it, that's The Jeremy Kyle Show isn't it...'