Election comment 5 – leaflets

I was delivering leaflets for Beth Miller, the Labour Party Candidate for Corby over the weekend.

And, by the way, I was right that Jeremy Corbyn isn’t on the leaflet, and nor is there an environmental content to it. But I was wrong that I wasn’t going to be inspired by it – having seen the Labour manifesto I definitely had a spring in my step as I walked around the streets of my little home town in east Northants.

I’ve done this a few times now, and every time I deliver leaflets I gain an extra respect for postmen (yes, and postwomen).  When I rule the world I will introduce a tax on doors with letter boxes less than 45cm above the ground.

I always wonder which way the people in the houses I am leafletting will vote and I wonder what they will do with the leaflet. Let’s be clear, around 30% of eligible voters don’t vote – which I find incredible. I imagine lots of those leaflets I delivered will not even merit a glance. Still, I’m doing my bit.

Sometimes I have a short chat with people if they are in their gardens when I come round. Under those circumstances I always ask ‘Would you like a leaflet from your Labour candidate?’. A man in his garage smiled rather pityingly, but nicely, and said ‘Oh alright then’. A young couple were outside and the woman looked as though she was going to say ‘No, stuff your leaflet and your Jeremy Corbyn’ but the man more quickly said, with great disinterest, ‘OK’. And then there was the sharp-faced old woman who looked a bit forbidding and scary but then said ‘Yes, please. Anything to keep the bloody Conservatives out. That May woman is worse than Thatcher. We’ve got to keep them out. I hope Labour get in.’.  You never know do you?

And I was rewarded with the sight of my first Hobby of the year, flashing over the rooftops, which made me feel as though nature was rewarding me for my efforts.

And another reward was an Animal Aid poster in a window against grouse shooting! I’ve never seen the poster before and yet there it was a few hundred yards from my home on prominent display. And it hadn’t been there when I put a leaflet through that door last summer to encourage signatures for our e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting. You see – old-fashioned walking the streets, sticking pieces of paper through people’s doors can, bit by bit, change the world for the better. That’s what I’m counting on anyway.



House Martins – it looks like a poor year

One of the problems of not having been in the UK for about a month this spring is that I have not seen spring build as I normally do. And I am still catching up.

The few pairs of House Martins in my street aren’t there this year. And there aren’t any just around the corner either where they usually are.  Perhaps they have shifted to new sites but I can’t see anything wrong  with the old ones.  And an evening spent in the garden doesn’t suggest that there are normal numbers flying around collecting aerial plankton overhead.  As I walked around delivering leaflets for my local Labour candidate, Beth Miller, I don’t remember seeing House Martins anywhere.

I had a quick look at Birdtrack and can’t see much support for my local observations (which were similar on my second BBS square too – I saw one House Martin where I would normally expect to see more).

But I wonder whether the image above gives us a bit of a clue – in a dry spring there may have been fewer opportunities for House Martins to build nests or renovate old ones.

What do you think of House Martin numbers near your home?







The manifestos

I’ve reviewed the environmental content of the Greens, Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems on this blog.  The Conservative manifesto is easily, by far, the weakest on environmental issues despite the fact that President May called this election and the party has been in government for the past seven years.  I gave the Greens, Labour and LibDems all a B+ whereas  I gave the Conservative manifesto a D-.  There is a clear gap, actually a dark chasm, between the Conservatives and everyone else.

If you care about the environment then your rule of thumb must be ‘Anyone but a Tory’ when you go to vote on 8 June.

I’ll be voting Labour, Beth Miller, in my own constituency of Corby here in east Northants.



SNP still the tartan Tories?

The SNP is in government in Scotland and claims to be the real opposition to the Conservative Party in Westminster. Why has the SNP dragged its feet over addressing raptor persecution in Scotland and why did it not take a more useful part in the debate over driven grouse shooting down south?

Only the SNP can answer these questions, and the need to be answered with deeds not just words. Luckily the cabinet secretary for environment and climate change, Roseanna Cunningham has opportunities at hand, but she will be pilloried in the media if she does not translate her fine words (‘The illegal killing of our raptors does remain a national disgrace. I run out of words to describe my contempt for the archaic attitudes still at play in some parts of Scotland‘) into strong action on licensing of shooting estates, stronger powers for the SSPCA and a clear statement that the review of satellite tagged raptors shows that shooting estates are a conservation problem for Scotland’s wildlife.

When speaking to the Scottish Gamekeepers Association Ms Cunningham also used strong words, which included ‘I have no patience at all with old fashioned attitudes towards these birds that linger on in this day and age. We all have to abide by the law, and must do so every day‘ which she sweetened with some praise for the SGA, ‘Not only are you valuable eyes and ears in the Scottish countryside, but you are stakeholders in the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime, with a vital role to play‘. Yesterday it was reported that the SGA is now boycotting Partnership Against Wildlife Crime meetings.  That’s a very valuable and vital contribution from SGA – maybe we’ll see some progress now.

It’s time for Ms Cunningham to pull her finger out and start setting the agenda on wildlife crime in Scotland. There are signs that she is keen to do so, but time and patience are running out.  Scotland’s reputation, and its tourism industry, is shamed by the wildlife crime carried out routinely in beautiful landscapes.

Also, why vote to send SNP MPs to Westminster who do nothing on wildlife crime there while SNP ministers do nothing back in Scotland?

The SNP does not look like a party which is intent on combatting wildlife crime as long as MSPs continue (ie last week) to write to their constituents and others saying that ‘Game management on grouse moors can make an important contribution to biodiversity by providing cover for wildlife, and through the creation and care of habitats such as woodland, grouse moors, beetle banks and hedgerows. Sporting estates often play a significant role in game conservation and across the UK shoot providers spend nearly £250 million a year on conservation.‘.

This sort of nonsense is normally only found on the websites of Conservative MPs (such as Nigel Adams, Chris Heaton-Harris, David Morris, Alistair Burt, Ben Howlett, Craig Tracey, Nigel Huddleston, Caroline Ansell etc etc) whose party and government lead the way in inactivity on wildlife crime south of the border.

So, cabinet secretary Cunningham – time for action! Or is your party run by tartan Tories?




Election comment 4 – Fineshade wood

Local politicians have generally been very supportive of the local and national opposition to the plans to wreck Fineshade Wood by building holiday chalets on this wildlife-rich site (for previous blogs see: Dear Mr Pursglove, 6 May 2016Fineshade Wood should be an SSSI, 15 April 2016; Fineshade Wood should be an SSSI, 28 March 2016; Woodland Trust withdraws from Forest Holidays deal, 4 June 2015: Forest holidays in case you missed it, 6 April 2015: Not so Fine Shade (8), 19 February 2015; Not so Fine Shade (5), 17 February 2015; Not so Fine Shade, 12 February 2015.

I’m very pleased to see from the Friends of Fineshade Wood website that, so far, the Labour and Lib Dem candidates have come out in support of nature and against the Forestry Commission’s plans to wreck this site.

Beth Miller, the Labour Party candidate grew up locally and says she is well aware of this very special area of ancient woodland,  ‘As the Labour candidate for Corby, I fully support Friends of Fineshade’s opposition to plans for holiday development. The Forestry Commission should withdraw the threat once and for all.’.

Chris Stanbra the Liberal Democrat candidate says ‘I fully support Friends of Fineshade’s opposition to plans for holiday development. The Forestry Commission should withdraw the threat once and for all.’.

I’d be surprised if our former MP and Conservative candidate wouldn’t join the throng as he has been sound on this matter so far.