This comment was posted earlier today on this blog by ‘jbc’.
It’s so well written that it deserves a wider airing. Thank you all for your comments – they help make this blog what it is – whatever it is!
I don’t work for an NGO now and have never worked for RSPB – I have worked for quite a lot of other NGOs though, and was for a time a trustee of one. I can understand why the call for a ban on driven grouse shooting doesn’t look quite such a black and white issue when seen from a Trustee’s (Council member’s) point of view. However even with that understanding I think it’s high time that RSPB changed direction on this.
The petition has gained public momentum and profile in a way that the minor successes (?are there any successes?) of the RSPB’s existing very low key non confrontational approach has manifestly failed to do. I’m all for seeking consensus and compromise – that’s how business gets done – but the Grouse industry, through YFTB, their direct public utterances, and more than anything else the continued persecution of birds of prey, show beyond any doubt that the RSPB’s low key approach has been consistently met with contempt not respect. It has manifestly failed. The danger for RSPB is that the continued lack of effective action is now damaging its credibility amongst its supporters as well as its enemies.
Personally I can see a variety of legal issues with attempting to impose an outright ban, but I see no issues at all with putting major public pressure on the industry by campaigning for one. Mark’s petition has put the issue on the agenda far more effectively than anything RSPB has done. Now maybe RSPB Council are uncomfortable about calling for a ban because they can also envisage some practical/legal issues; well OK then, RSPB, put forward your own plan B. Supporting the petition now is probably the best way to create the political momentum and credibility needed to deliver plan B later in any case. But either way the time for continued appeasement is long past.
So as an RSPB member, I appeal to the Council to formally reconsider this issue, and to come up with a more effective policy than continuing to talk to people who ignore you and fund others to tell lies about you. I’m all for RSPB backing formally the petition, but if not that, then the Council had better come up with a convincing alternative. There’s a thin line between appeasement and collaboration, and your members, and the birds, deserve something better than more of either.