Here’s a short survey – 14 questions (and the last two are about your age and gender) about how you feel about some currently controversial issues.
I aim to reveal the results some time in the middle of next week, so please don’t delay if you fancy answering some questions. All responses are anonymous – I won’t know who you are.
The driven grouse shooting industry may find itself caught in a landslide with no escape from reality when Dr Brian May supports our cause.
Next week, on Saturday 25 June, whether we have voted Brexit or Remain, there will be a Hen Harrier rally to mark this year’s virtual absence of nesting Hen Harriers from the English uplands.
Full details will appear here and elsewhere next Wednesday but we have now been told by the organisers that it will be in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Watch this space.
Having welcomed the Hen Harrier inaction plan, welcomed the pathetic statement by the Moorland Association and disappointed many (except the Chief Exec of Songbird Survival) with its line on the Hen Harrier breeding season update, more and more people are voicing their concerns. Whilst the RSPB is used to being robust about criticisms from the ‘other side’ it is now facing an ever-increasing amount of disquiet from many long-standing members. It’s not a disaster, it’s not an earthquake, but it is unusual and it should be making RSPB Council think again.
I mentioned last week the criticisms of the RSPB line from the North of England Raptor Forum and from Birders Against Wildlife Crime and now comments on the BAWC blog are uniformly backing up the unease about whether the RSPB is being tough enough on the matter of illegal persecution of birds of prey on grouse moors. Here are some quotes:
The RSPB Council, is putting its staff and the Society in an uncomfortable position by not taking a long look at this matter. Already it is clear that the RSPB welcoming the Defra Hen Harrier inaction plan does not mean that RSPB members, and certainly those closest to the subject, feel any warmth to it whatsoever. Next time there is a Hen Harrier group can the RSPB really claim a seat at the table? Probably not without winning back these members and supporters.
The RSPB is in danger of positioning itself, completely unnecessarily, as part of the problem rather than the main organisation likely to deliver a solution. When our e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting gets to, say, 60,000 signatures without RSPB support it will be obvious that with RSPB support the whole subject of driven grouse shooting would be debated in the Westminster parliament. Surely that is what the RSPB wants? Isn’t it?
You have to dance with the one who brought you RSPB. Shania Twain would tell you that.
That’s not remarkable – but it is very encouraging. And it’s very depressing at the same time. Can you imagine say, Rory Stewart, sticking his fingers in his ears and going ‘La-la-la-la-la!’ so as not to hear anything that he can’t quite cope with?
But this next bit is remarkable. I am told that the same instruction applies to RSPB news items too. The RSPB is seen to be almost as irritating and subversive as this blog by Defra ministers – or so it seems. That is remarkable from where I’m standing.
And it will come as a blow to the RSPB who treasure their ‘traction’ with Defra ministers.
Rory Stewart, perhaps to be consistent with the above, still does not follow the RSPB on Twitter, nor the Wildlife Trusts, nor Natural England, nor other conservation organisations, but he continues to follow Countryside Alliance accounts. I admire the minister for not hiding the fact that he has his fingers in his ears as far as the natural world is concerned.
For an alternative perspective, just take a look at the Shadow Secretary for the Environment, Kerry McCarthy’s (@KerryMP) Twitter follows. It actually looks as though she is interested in nature (and I know she is!).
That’s another thousand in the bag and we still aren’t half way in time yet. And it comes only two days after 42,000 was reached. That was a successful over! Thanks everyone!
Take a look at the map which you will see is still dominated by rural constituencies, many of them in grouse moor areas:
It’s a while since I gave you the list of the ‘100 Club’ which now stands at 10% of all UK parliamentary constituencies (and we still aren’t half way through our time yet!). In fact I last tabulated them on 3 June when they numbered only 55.
This list is even more dominated by rural Conservative constituencies and they will soon be joined by a lot more including (and he will, I’m sure, be thrilled) that of Owen Paterson (93 signatures).
- Calder Valley 263 signatures – Craig Whittaker MP, CON
- Ross, Skye, Lochaber 206 signatures – Ian Blackford MP, SNP
- High Peak 182 signatures – Andrew Bingham MP, CON
- Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey 175 signatures – Drew Hendry MP, SNP
- Skipton and Ripon 164 signatures – Julian Smith MP, CON
- North Norfolk 163 signatures – Norman Lamb MP, LIB
- Isle of Wight 161 signatures – Andrew Turner MP, CON
- Brighton Pavilion 160 signatures – Caroline Lucas MP, GREEN
- Bristol West 159 signatures – Thangan Debonnaire MP, LAB
- Derbyshire Dales 154 signatures – Patrick McLoughlin MP, CON
- Argyll and Bute 154 signatures – Brendan O’Hara MP, SNP
- Sheffield Central 152 signatures – Paul Blomfield MP, LAB
- Westmorland and Lonsdale 141 signatures – Tim Farron MP, LIB
- Penrith and The Border 141 signatures – Rory Stewart MP, CON
- Central Devon 137 signatures – Mel Stride MP, CON
- Torridge and West Devon 136 signatures – Geoffrey Cox MP, CON
- South Norfolk 134 signatures – Richard Bacon MP, CON
- Dumfries and Galloway 134 signatures – Richard Arkless MP, SNP
- Bridgwater and West Somerset 133 signatures – Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, CON
- Sheffield Hallam 132 signatures – Nick Clegg MP, LIB
- Totnes 131 signatures – Sarah Wollaston MP, CON
- Norwich South 128 signatures – Clive Lewis MP, LAB
- Suffolk Coastal 134 signatures – Theresa Coffey MP, CON
- Scarborough and Whitby 131 signatures – Robert Goodwill MP, CON
- West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine 128 signatures – Stuart Blair Donaldson MP, SNP
- York Central 132 signatures – Rachael Maskell MP, LAB
- Thirsk and Malton 131 signatures – Kevin Hollinrake MP, CON
- Wells 127 signatures – James Heappey MP, CON
- Cambridge 126 signatures – Daniel Zeichnar MP, LAB
- South Cambridgeshire 124 signatures – Heidi Allen MP, CON
- Edinburgh North and Leith 124 signatures – Deidre Brock MP, SNP
- Ochil and South Perthshire 122 signatures – Tasmina Ahmad-Sheikh MP, SNP
- West Dorset 119 signatures – Oliver Letwin MP, CON
- Arundel and South Downs 118 signatures – Nick Herbert MP, CON
- Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale 116 signatures – David Mundell MP, CON
- Richmond (Yorks) 116 signatures – Rishi Sunak MP, CON
- St. Ives 115 signatures – Derek Thomas MP, CON
- North Somerset 115 signatures – Liam Fox MP, CON
- Stirling 114 signatures – Steven Paterson MP, SNP
- Perth and North Perthshire 114 signatures – Pete Wishart MP, SNP
- Waveney 113 signatures – Peter Aldous MP, CON
- Exeter 113 signatures – Ben Bradshaw MP, LAB
- North Wiltshire 113 signatures – James Gray MP, CON
- Stroud 112 signatures – Neil Carmichael MP, CON
- South West Surrey 112 signatures – Jeremy Hunt MP, CON
- Mid Norfolk 112 signatures – George Freeman MP, CON
- Lewes 112 signatures – Maria Caulfield MP, CON
- Edinburgh South 111 signatures – Ian Murray MP, LAB
- East Lothian 111 signatures – George Kerevan MP, SNP
- Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk 111 signatures – Callum Kerr MP, SNP
- Lancaster and Fleetwood 110 signatures – Cat Smith MP, LAB
- East Devon 109 signatures – Hugo Swire MP, CON
- Ceredigion 108 signatures – Mark Williams MP, LIB
- Edinburgh East 108 signatures – Tommy Shepherd MP, SNH
- North East Bedfordshire 108 signatures – Alistair Burt MP, CON
- Brighton Kemptown 107 signatures – Simon Kirby MP, CON
- Bath 105 signatures – Ben Howlett MP, CON
- Taunton Deane 105 signatures – Rebecca Pow MP, CON
- Tiverton and Honiton 104 signatures – Neil Parish MP, CON
- South East Cambridgeshire 104 signatures – Lucy Frazer MP, CON
- Richmond Park 104 signatures – Zac Goldsmith MP, CON
- South Dorset 102 signatures – Richard Drax MP, CON
- Forest of Dean 101 signatures – Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, CON
- Berwick-upon-Tweed 100 signatures – Mrs Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, CON
- The Cotswolds 100 signatures – Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, CON
If the whole of the UK acted like Conservative-held seats then it would be a stroll to get to 100,000 signatures by 20 September – as it is, it’s tough but possible. And we are going to give it our very best shot (as it were!).
Ask a friend to sign the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting – and if you can’t find a friend that you haven’t asked, then ask an enemy (you never know, do you!). Thank you for all your support.
Sir Ian Booo!tham has been awarded the inaugural ‘Outstanding guns’ award by Fieldsports Magazine.
This award ‘gives recognition to individuals in the world of game shooting who truly deserve it, for all the right reasons‘ apparently.
The award has been invented because ‘the game shooting community must do all that it possibly can to ensure that the right image and messages about our beloved sport are conveyed‘ and that’s why they have chosen, of all people, Sir Ian Botham to be the role model for game shooting.
Sir Ian has been used as a spokesperson by You Forgot the Birds – a group funded by the British grouse industry which includes Crispin Odey and which has attacked the RSPB several times over the last few years (see here, here, here, here). This is, presumably, the type of behaviour that Fieldsports and the game shooting industry wish to promote and recognise. Another own goal by the shooting industry which is increasingly in disarray over its PR in the face of increasing scrutiny and criticism. So, they have chosen the spokesperson for the most vitriolic anti-RSPB group they could choose. Smart move guys!
We will watch with interest to see whether GWCTadpoles, BASC, Countryside Alliance and Moorland Association pour further honours on Sir Ian’s head and we notice that Ian Coghill (chair of GWCTadpoles) was speaking at the event along with Nigel Adams MP (Selby and Ainstey, 78 signatures)
The RSPB didn’t say ‘We welcome this much-deserved award to our great collaborator Sir Ian. We have enjoyed working closely with Sir Ian and his mates in YFTB over a range of important issues. There’s nothing like close collaboration to move things along.’.
Shania Twain said ‘Dance with the one who brought you’.
This blog says, there is only one thing that will get the grouse shooting industry to mend its ways and that is a strong signal that their end is nigh – sign this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting and add your name to 43,000 others.
I’ll be watching ‘the’ football match this afternoon and wondering whether the result might affect the EU referendum. And if it does – how?
If Wales beats England today, and I certainly wouldn’t rule it out, how will that affect English voters in the EU referendum? And Welsh ones, and Scots and those in Northern Ireland? There is speculation that big successes or failures can influence how people feel and how they vote (see here) in general elections but an EU referendum is a different kettle of fish.
There is some evidence that being in the EU is good news for your footballing prospects: of the 54 teams which attempted to qualify, only 6 out of 22 non-EU nations qualified whereas 18 out of 32 EU nations did. [For nerds only: it is 32 not 28 because, obviously, England, Wales, Scotland, NI and Gibraltar are all EU members and were in the qualifiers. And Faeroe Islands, San Marino, Andorra, Liechtenstein are not EU members].
And at the time of writing, EU countries are scoring just over one goal per game whereas non-EU countries are scoring a little over half a goal a game. Forget the economics, we’d be better in for our football’s sake (and of course, by ‘we’ I mean England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland (even though Scotland is a bit irrelevant here).
If England are out of Euro 2016 by bedtime on Monday, how will that affect the UK electorate on Thursday? Will Gove admit that we can’t stand alone, recant and opt for huddling together with our betters in the EU? Or will Farage slag off those unfair and dastardly Europeans with their red-tape and bureaucracy of yellow cards and off-side rules and use it persuade us all to turn our backs on ‘them’. Will a rampant Welsh nation have sobered up to remember to vote on Thursday if they go through? How will NI take their exit (almost certainly in good spirit I’d guess!)? How will the Scots react to any or all of this happening without them, again?
When the EU superstate takes over and there is eventually one EU team picked from the footballers of teams from Astana to Reykjavik and from Helsinki to Gibraltar how many years will pass before a UK player makes the team? And will that team always lose to South America?
Just for interest:
Betfair favourites for Euro 2016:
France 3.8/1 (poor value IMHO)
England 9/1 (very poor value IMHO)
Betfair odds on EU referendum:
They don’t know whether they are coming or going – quite literally. Having said that they would be pleased to field someone for the Bird Fair debate on whether driven grouse shooting should be banned they have now come back to me to say that they cannot find a single person from their membership or supporters who will face a friendly Bird Fair audience and argue for their ‘sport’. Where are you Beefy Botham? Ian Coghill? Teresa Dent? Duke of Westminster? Earl Peel? Charles Moore? Nicholas Soames? Paul Dacre? Magnus Linklater? Philip Astor? You can’t all be blasting away at Red Grouse that day surely? Andrew Gilruth is on holiday – fair enough, but he does seem to be the only person ever prepared to try to defend the grouse shooting industry.
But Gunning Wildlife, Conserving Tadpoles is very worried about vowels because ‘some managers’ are ‘reporting’ a ‘significant decline’ in vowels this year. This is clearly a bit of a defensive move which is trying to frame the Hen Harrier crash in England as being due to lack of vowels in the hills. Hn Harrirs are wll known to b partial to th odd vowel – thy ar particularly kn on ‘e’s. No ‘e’s and Hn Harrir numbrs plummt is what I suppos GWCT ar trying to tll us.
GWCT said ‘W dn’t knw what w re dng rlly. W cn’t fc th wrld wth rgmnts s pr s th ns w pblsh n r blg. Why sn’t nyn lstnng t s nymr? Whr hv ll the vowls gn?’
The RSPB said ‘We welcome this statement from the GWCT – it makes as much sense as any of their others.‘