This is what it is like to be on the front foot.


Photo: Guy Shorrock
Photo: Guy Shorrock

The debate has changed dramatically over the last few months – let’s say since 28 May when this e-petition was launched to ban driven grouse shooting.

In that time:

  • Morris_driveM&S have been persuaded to change their mind about selling Red Grouse on their shelves until they can assure the world of the sustainability of their supply chain.
  • Selfridges have said they will not sell Red Grouse in their Food Hall.
  • The Ethical Consumer magazine has published a hard-hitting report attacking the sustainability of grouse shooting.
  • Animal Aid has published a report on the waste of public money that goes to grouse moors
  • The RSPB has said that nett impact of grouse shooting on wildlife is ‘almost certainly negative‘ and hardened its stance by suggesting that grouse moors should be licensed
  • LUSH customers have signed 20,000 postcards asking the Queen to help the Hen Harrier
  • Hundreds of people turned out on Hen Harrier Day across the country to protest against the illegal persecution of protected birds of prey by grouse shooting interests
  • A Leeds University report has shown that heather burning for driven grouse shooting adds to flood risk, reduces water quality (and puts up water bills), damages river wildlife and increases greenhouse gas emissions
  • An analysis of the economic claims behind shooting has shown that the claims for economic value of grouse shooting have been exaggerated
  • And, a few days ago, the number of people who have signed this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting passed 18,000.

We should now look to politicians to respond to the public mood and tell us what they plan to do about driven grouse shooting. Any political party (actually, not all, I’m not posting anything from the BNP here) who wishes to write a Guest Blog on grouse shooting is welcome to get in touch.







13 Replies to “This is what it is like to be on the front foot.”

  1. Mark, You now have the movement in Scotland to remove the General Licence from land where wildlife crime has taken place. Whilst I am uncertain how this will happen, it is an acknowledgement that something should be done and could be reflected in the rest of the UK.

    I am also intrigued with the proposal that the Scottish SPCA should be given powers to deal with wildlife crime. This at the same time as the RSPCA is under pressure to remove itself from investigations.

    1. May I suggest some sense of proportion here.

      The SNP are proposing the use of hard pressed taxpayers money to respond to an extremely minor problem.

      There have never been more birds of prey in this country since the years prior to DDT use.

      Indeed, some birds of prey are suffering in numbers from the waxing population of other birds of prey:

      In the same way that the hunting act in England has proved divisive yet ineffective, only 56 successful prosecutions last year, of which only 6 were hunt followers, the rest poachers who could have been prosecuted by earlier legislation, a law of vicarious liability is a measure of dubious probity, likely to be of limited extra utility.

      ‘ Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land and Estates, said: “Overall, we support the objective of reducing the already small number of crimes against wild birds but it is important to note that a large proportion of such incidents will be caused by people for whom general licences are not applicable.’

      ‘”There also remains an issue that this licensing process could, for example, be seen to cloud a concurrent criminal investigation by police into the same matter.”

      Still, looking on the bright side for birds, vicarious liability legislation will result in all cats having to be kept on leads when outside.

      Banning grouse shooting is just plain mad; licencing it expensive and illiberal.

      The situation for birds of prey (not suffering from other birds of prey) in this country has never been better in living memory.

  2. I hope you’ll forgive my rather extreme point of pedantry, but that chap is not setting up to play off the front foot. Most of his weight is on his back foot and the face of the bat is quite open. Clearly the ball is short of a length, wide of the off-stump and is about to played with either a square-cut or late-cut. Either that or he’s a compulsive hooker with a dodgy technique!

    It is important to get these things right!

    Good blog by the way!

    1. Hang on. That’s the great Australian opener and oldest living cricketer, Arthur Morris, getting into position for a cover drive.

      As Wisden said of him in 1949 when he was named one of the cricketers of the year: “Like most left-handers, Morris is specially good at driving through the covers, hitting to leg and in powerful square-cutting, and few excel him in on-driving.” And far from having a dodgy technique, none other than Richie Benaud rated him with Neil Harvey as having the best footwork against spin bowling among batsmen after the Second World War.

      Remember when the Don was out for a duck in his final innings? Morris went on to get 196. Indeed Bradman selected him as an opening batsman in his greatest team in Test history, describing him as the “best left-hand option to open an innings”. In 2000 he was named in the Australian Cricket Board’s Team of the Century.

      I don’t know if Morris was a shooting man, but if so he would have been well placed for coping with the pace of driven grouse, where it’s vital to get on the front foot.

      1. Lazywell – I’m sure you could cease to amaze me, but, as yet, you haven’t. Thank you for your comment.

      2. Lazywell,

        Thanks – good knowledge!

        Apologies for delayed reply, it’s a busy time of year.

        I didn’t know that was Arthur Morris, certainly a great of his time. Isn’t it odd how sportsman of yesterday always look so much older than they actually were? On my office wall hangs a picture of a Combined Universities XI which was captained by my Grandfather, almost without exception they all look like middle-aged men!

        I do think you are doing Arthur Morris a great service by suggesting he is preparing to play a cover drive, despite what Wikipedia states, he can’t be. Not with so much weight on a back foot which is planted firmly on the popping crease.

        According to Wikipedia, I see he was noted for his backfoot shots as well as cover driving:

        ‘He had the ability to decide on his stroke early in the ball’s flight and employed an unusual defensive technique, shuffling across the stumps to get behind the ball. This created a perception that he was vulnerable to leg before wicket decisions and was vulnerable to losing his leg stump. Deft placement allowed him to pierce the gaps between fielders, and he was especially noted for his cover driving, square cutting and on-driving. Most of all, he was known for his back foot play, especially his pulling and hooking.’

        ‘Remember when the Don was out for a duck in his final innings?’

        Obviously I don’t remember it although perhaps the venerable Filbert Cobb might? He’s 94 you know…
        I gather the Don was incensed at the suggestion that his dismissal came about as a result of him being teary eyed, apparently this accusation hurt much more than his ‘failure’ to retire on an average of 100.

        I wonder what the likes of Morris and Bradman would have made of the unedifying, childish behaviour of the ECB and Messrs KP et al?

  3. Be enormously keen to hear what Labour have to say. I’ve asked them four times to clarify their position on driven grouse shooting only to be roundly ignored.

  4. When you lay it all out like that Mark, it shows that we have achieved an awful lot. With so much out there which seems to show categorically that something here is extremely amiss, how long can the powers that be turn their heads and look away? If it were me I would be at the point of mortified embarrassment that I was one who allowed this to happen for so long. To those people I say this. Do the right thing and do it now. You can all still save a minute bit of dignity and integrity if you immediately start to do your utmost to resolve this total and outright perversion of the law and of the decency of the land. Do it now and you will gain the respect of thousands of HONEST people rather than the dishonest ones you have it from now.

  5. Why have those 20,000 Lush customers not signed your petition ? why have the 1 million RSPB members not signed your petition ? Why have the 55 million people in the Uk not signed your petition ? there must be an awful lot of people agree with your aims and ambitions !

    1. (As a long time RSPB member) I haven’t and have no intention of signing the petition.

      I don’t have a problem with the shooting of grouse and can’t support a ban. BUT I do have a problem with modern grouse shooting.

      Perhaps the 50+ million non-signatories don’t want a ban?

      To be honest though I think your question can be answered quite simply. Lack of awareness of the petition and/ or apathy.

    2. Wonder if those same people are happy to accept illegal activities? If it were against people then there would probably (rightly) be an outcry, or would there be?

      30% ish electorate turn out, other 70% deserve what they get? Apathy, beloved of the politicians as it gives them a mandate?

  6. All this makes me think of an inspiring quote from Naomi Klein during her Guardian Live interview last night – along the lines of…… “the way to win against forces with a huge amount to lose, is to create a movement of more people with a huge amount to gain”
    It feels like that is happening.

  7. The idea of banning driven grouse shooting is highly illiberal and profoundly stupid.

    We know what happens when gamekeepers are removed from a grouse moor.

    It is well documented:

    Once grouse shooting goes, the keepers go and, with them, most of the birdlife.

    You are on the front foot but, perversely, not in the way that you think.

    You are hitting upland birdlife for six. Visit Exmoor, Dartmoor, Cardair Idris national parks for a view of your future.


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