The people have made their choice and we all have to live with it. The environment faces a tough time over the next five years and that means that those who care about it, not enough of us, need to raise our voices and do even more to fight for nature.
I went to bed, tired and worried, about 11pm last night and didn’t wake until 6am. The exit poll proved pretty accurate and the general election resulted in a romp home for David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon, and a defeat for Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage (and a disappointment for Natalie Bennett too). It must be tough being a party leader – I always feel for the losers.
One loser, was my own former MP, Andy Sawford, who lost his seat, only gained in a by-election when Louise Mensch resigned, here in Corby. I feel gutted for Andy personally and a bit glum for myself too. Yesterday, after voting, I was delivering cards around the streets where I live to try to mobilise the Labour vote. Yesterday it was a sunny day, this morning it is a bit gloomy here. I hope that Andy feels proud of what he has done as an excellent constituency MP over the last three years.
The prospect for the environment under a Conservative government, with a small majority, is not great. Badger culls, neonicotinoids, raptor ‘management’ and biodiversity offsets are all on the cards. Little progress on marine protected areas, an uncertain future for forestry in England and the promotion of the economy over the ecology all seem likely too.
We face a referendum on the EU and further schisms in the UK. Climate change will continue to slip down the agenda. Will there be a vote on a return of fox-hunting? How big will be the next round of cuts for the environment?
Who will be chosen as the new Secretary of State at Defra? Surely not Liz Truss? There is no need to fit a few LibDems into the government so we will see a mixture of whole-nation Tories and UKIP-tending Tories in office. Who will go where? That’s not under our control but Cameron hasn’t demonstrated any empathy with rural issues so far, except through the eyes of the shooting community.
It feels like a tough time ahead. But then, it wouldn’t be easy under any government.
Wildlife NGOs need to examine their own performance over the past five years. Have they played a good game? I don’t think so. Have they played an important game? No.
Large memberships have not been mobilised to any appreciable extent and the messages have been too soft. The RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and others need to take a long look at whether they are trying to influence the future and how they go about it.
In the absence of environmental interest from politicians, and the absence of leadership from NGOs, then what can we ordinary folk do? We can use our voices – they are even more needed than ever. I’ll be writing to my new MP to ask him to take an interest in environmental issues and I’ll post my letter to him here next week. I’ll certainly be thinking of starting another e-petition on grouse shooting in a little while – we must turn up the heat.
I probably sound a bit glum, and a bit down. I am! I can’t help but feel that the election result is a set-back for the environment, but we will see. Even now I can feel that despondency beginning to slip away and my mind turning to what we can all do to give wildlife a better future in England, the UK and globally.
If you thought the path to a better future was smooth then you were wrong (and I don’t know where you got that idea). But the journey is worth making. What we need is an army of people heading in the same direction.
I think I need to go out for a walk to recharge my batteries. There’s a lot more work to do over the next few weeks, months and years. This blog will continue to stand up for nature, to criticise those who are doing less than they should, and to give its readers practical suggestions for how they can make a difference through their own actions. Don’t lose heart! In the end, we will win!