26/09/2012 13:28 BST | Updated 25/11/2012 05:12 GMT

'Humans Are Not the Only Important Species on This Planet' - A Q&A With Queen's Brian May

As his badger cull e-petition reaches the 100,000 signatures milestone and the BBC report a 'reconsideration' of the proposed cull as a result, Brian May's sense of achievement has reached a particularly gratifying personal high.

"I feel like in some strange way," May tells me, "the whole of my life has been preparing me for this moment, when I stand up and speak, and fight for what I believe in - for a truly humane society."

I catch up with the iconic curly-haired musician, bright Astrophysicist and thoroughly nice guy (May's last email arrived just after 2am with an apology for the slightly delayed reply), who talks Queen, invites David Cameron for a beer and with endearing passion tells me that "it is time for a complete rewrite of the way we treat our fellow creatures."

Q: You are the RSPCA's new vice president - is the inspirational Gavin Grant responsible for you choosing the RSPCA over other organisations?  

A: Gavin is certainly an inspiration. Now THAT's the kind of human being who ought to be Prime Minister! To be honest, the liaison happened naturally.  

Since I began campaigning for wild animals I have been seeking to unite the various animal welfare organisations. And I got used to the idea that the RSPCA had to be very conservative in its actions, so could not jump in to the kind campaign I was trying to set in motion - to actively fight those who want to abuse animals for sport, or for unjustifiable 'culls'.  

Within a week of taking over as CEO of the RSPCA, Gavin was personally on the phone to me. I was stunned.  From that day, we have never looked back. Gavin is passionate, compassionate, infinitely focussed, and a great orator. This is kind of man who can truly change the world.   And Lord knows it needs changing. 

Q: If you were to state your argument regarding the controversial badger cull to the public, what would it be?  

A: The proposed badger cull is, very simply, unsupported by science, unjustifiable ethically, and will not work. The present government, in bed with the National Farmers Union, has chosen to ignore all these factor, and the fact that they are going against the wishes of the vast majority of the people of Britain - as is evidenced by astonishingly massive support for our petition - which has been by far the fastest-growing petition on the government website since it's birth just two weeks ago.

By the time you read this, 100,000 people will have signed - confirmation that we speak for the British majority, and that Cameron needs to think again. If the cull goes ahead, this is an irreversible tragedy for our wildlife.  Thousands of mainly healthy and totally innocent animals will be slaughtered, their families destroyed, their blood soaking our countryside.  This can never be undone.  


Q: Is a ban on fox hunting an assault on people's rights and freedom to pursue an activity of their choice?

A: If it weren't so tragic, it would be very amusing. What a ridiculous assertion - it's actually insane to suggest that anyone has the 'right' to pursue an activity which causes pain and suffering to the people or creatures around them. This view was actually taken to the European court in 2005, and was roundly thrown out, with the contempt it deserves. Nobody has the right to take away the right of another creature to a decent life and a decent death. There is NO justification for blood sports. That they still go on illegally under cover is a national disgrace.  

Q: If you were to address David Cameron directly, what would you say?

A: I would say, David, come and have a beer.  And let me try to show you that you are listening to the wrong people. I would try to find in him the courage to stand up for decency.  

Q: Is it time for us, humankind, to rethink our relationship with our fellow creatures?  

A: Yes. I have been saying this for a very long time. There is no reason to believe that humans are the only important species on this planet. I believe every creature has the right to respect. We have gone terribly wrong.  It's time for a complete rewrite of the way we treat our fellow creatures. This will entail smashing many traditions. This is not a new idea. The abolition of slavery, burning witches at the stake, bear baiting, cock-fighting, etc etc  all entailed the abandonment of traditional views that were being clung to.  It is time.  

Q: The beauty of your music is timeless and transcends age and background barriers. This kind of consensus is rare and I wondered if as its creator, you are aware of its magnitude?

A: I'm sure not everyone would agree with you... There is a lot of what I have believed in in a lot of the music we created over the years. I feel like in some strange way the whole of my life has been preparing me for this moment, when I stand up and speak, and fight for what I believe in - for a truly humane society.  

Q: As a fellow appreciator of all things science I wanted to ask how excited you are about Curiosity's mission and images beamed to us from Mars?

A: I like it. I find it fun. Astronomy is a joy... and way of reminding ourselves how small we are.  

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