Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The UK’s Top Ten Political Bogs 2008–09

(Apropos of nothing much.)

It’s that time of year again when Freemania, in association with the National Trust and Cillit Bang, brings you the annual UK Top Ten Political Bogs Competition!

The rules are the same as ever: our panel of experts has toured the UK bogosphere, narrowing down the contenders for the crown to just nine. But which is the best? You can vote for your favourite, and also nominate one not listed to win the ‘readers’ choice’ place.

Who will win the coveted ‘Bog Standard’ award? Only you can decide!

The shortlist of nine, in alphabetical order, is:

Ballynahone Bog is a raised bog, situated in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on low-lying ground immediately north of the Moyola River. It is one of the largest lowland raised bogs in Northern Ireland. Ballynahone played a pivotal role behind the scenes in brokering the deal that saw Iain Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party join Sinn Fein in the Northern Ireland Executive.

Cors Caron is a raised bog in central Wales. The Cors Caron covers an area of approximately 816 acres, and provides a habitat for the endangered red kite, which was once nearly extinct before making a dramatic resurgence in the area. Its tireless campaigning on the issues of post office closures and arms exports have won it admirers as far afield as Merthyr and Aberystwyth.

Crymlyn Bog is a nature reserve and a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest of international significance, near Swansea. It is the largest area of lowland fen in Wales. Commentators of all political stripes have praised Crymlyn’s sure-footed first year as Shadow Secretary of State for Administrative Affairs.

Matley Bog is an ancient woodland bog in the New Forest, Hampshire. It is notable for the presence of the rare ant, Formica candida, sometimes called the shining bog ant. An internationally recognised authority on data security, Matley has been the driving force behind the Government’s proposals to conceal the whole population’s personal records on the sports pages of the Financial Times.

Max Bog is a 10.6-hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest west of the village of Winscombe, North Somerset. It has made headlines in recent months with its bold proposals for restructuring the military, with a controversial emphasis on merging the Navy and RAF, and using the cost savings to develop a giant death ray in orbit around the Earth.

Moseley Bog is a nature reserve in the Moseley area of Birmingham. Following its re-evaluation by English Nature the site was denotified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1992, but remains a locally designated Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, which is much like getting a prize for effort. Named after celebrity racist Sir Oswald Moseley, the bog is notable for sucking only dark-skinned people to their deaths, which has sparked a productive debate on multiculturalism in the West Midlands.

Portlethen Moss is an acidic bog nature reserve in the coastal Grampian region in Aberdeenshire. This wetland area supports a variety of plant and animal species, even though it has been subject to certain development and agricultural degradation pressures. Portlethen stood as the ‘Anti-Iran War/Hang Welfare Cheats’ candidate in the Haltemprice and Howden byelection, coming in 24th place with 17 votes. Nobody knows how it managed to get on this list.

Red Moss is a wetland bog in Aberdeenshire, noted for its biodiversity and undisturbed character. The elevation of Red Moss is 113 metres above mean sea level. As Director of the left-leaning Policy Mire think-tank, Red Moss is widely seen as setting the agenda in a range of areas that nobody else cares about.

Yanal Bog is a 1.6-hectare calcicolous lowland mire just north of the village of Sandford, North Somerset. Underlying the site are gravels and clay alluvium. Above this sits a layer of peat. This results in a high water table, creating a distinct domed landscape feature. This shape inspired the Millennium Dome, a fact about which Yanal is still laughing. Yanal is tipped by Westminster insiders as the likeliest challenger to Gordon Brown.

These are the shortlisted candiates – now you get to pick your favourite. Plus, of course, there’s a tenth place open for your own nominations.

Vote early, vote often! And remember: this top ten really matters. And so, by extension, do I.

(No offence, Iain…)

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