Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has delivered a sardonic reply to Defra secretary Owen Patterson's claims that the "badgers moved the goalposts".
The nation's official wordsmith has penned a poem depicting all nature in uproar, as a response to the Tory minister's justification for the low numbers of the protected creatures killed by marksmen in the recent Somerset cull.
A bitter war of words over the culls has played out between, on one side, the Government, Defra, and the National Farmers' Union, with Team Badger and thousands of protesters on the other.
Now the Laureate has entered the fray, with a mocking rhyme. Last night, Natural England confirmed, as expected, that the West Somerset cull would be extended, until November 1, after a re-assessment of the badger population showed much lower numbers than expected.
The poet has now stepped into the debate, suggesting other transgressing creatures, including rule-bending ferrets, fact-twisting skunks and gun-jumping foxes.
It all adds up, she writes – an explanation which makes as much sense as anything else in recent politics – to 22 Reasons for the Bedroom Tax.
Here is the poem, emailed to the Guardian newspaper:
Because the Badgers are moving the goalposts.
The Ferrets are bending the rules.
The Weasels are taking the hindmost.
The Otters are downing tools.
The Hedgehogs are changing the game-plan
The Grass-snakes are spitting tacks.
The Squirrels are playing the blame-game.
The Skunks are twisting the facts.
The Pole-cats are upping the ante.
The Foxes are jumping the gun.
The Voles are crashing the party.
The Stoats are dismantling the Sun.
The Rabbits are taking the biscuit.
The Hares are losing the plot.
The Eagles are kicking the bucket.
The Rats are joining the dots.
The Herons are throwing a curveball.
The Shrews are fanning the flames.
The Field mice are sinking the 8-ball.
The Swans are passing the blame.
And the Pheasants are draining the oil from the tank –
but only the Bustards have broken the bank.