Whoever is behind the ill-conceived attack on the RSPB fronted by a silent and absent ex-cricketer, a silent baronet and a silent ex-nature conservationist, and carried into the pages of the Mail on Sunday (did you know that the Daily Mail’s editor, Paul Dacre, owns a grouse moor?), I believe they have miscalculated.
They have misconstrued the more conciliatory tone and approach of the current RSPB leadership as a sign of weakness and an invitation to bullying. This is a serious error. First, neither Mike Clarke nor Martin Harper is weak, and neither is likely to take well to being bullied by the likes of an absent Beefy and the Mail on Sunday on behalf of the shooting community as a whole. This attack will bring out their inner steel. Second, the personal nature of the attack on the RSPB, timed to bridge the gap between the RSPB AGM and yesterday’s Hen Harrier meeting, is bound to wake up those remaining RSPB Council members who are still under the misapprehension that nature conservation and shooting are like two peas in a pod they are so alike. Third, it is a sign of panic which will merely encourage those who believe that the RSPB should take a tougher line (as they should) on driven grouse shooting now that its wildlife and wider environmental damaging impacts are so well known. Fourth, it has demonstrated (as has the Lead Ammunition Group (don’t forget that)) that shooting’s self interest is blind to science and immune to reason. Fifth, as I understand it, the RSPB membership has remained unconcerned by a bunch of shooters having a tantrum except they await the RSPB’s robust and strategic response.
I could go on, and on, but the upshot is that the RSPB will harden its stance on driven grouse shooting.