As Conservative MPs set off to Birmingham for their party conference I thought it would be worth identifying a few Conservative MPs and their responses and lack of responses to your emails and letters on the subject of driven grouse shooting.
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP (The Cotswolds, 288 signatures) – chair of the APPG on Shooting (and Conservation) has not replied to more than one irate constituent who remain unimpressed by this. Quite a high chance he will speak in the debate on driven grouse shooting, I’d have thought.
Liam Fox MP (North Somerset 294 signatures) persists in sending out copies of the not-so-talented Viscount Ridley’s Spectator piece to his constituents. It will be interesting to see how Fox gets on with negotiations over international trade if he takes so little account of the evidence.
David Lidington MP (Aylesbury 204 signatures) seems to think that the issue is ‘illegal grouse shooting’ – great attention to detail there.
Liz Truss MP (South West Norfolk 235 signatures) hasn’t responded yet – she clearly intends to continue her interest in the environment at the same level as when she was Secretary of State.
Andrea Leadsom MP (South Northants 220 signatures) – means to carry on where Liz Truss left off?
Julian Smith MP (Skipton and Ripon 455 signatures) may hold the record for the longest period of silence on this subject since he was first written to in mid-August. His constituency has a high level of signatures and lots of grouse shooting. Where is that response?
Marcus Fish MP (Yeovil 288 signatures) – something fishy going on here (sorry!)?
Alistair Burt MP (North East Bedfordshire 282 signatures) – has posted the standard response on his website despite its inaccuracies and despite being a very nice man and despite having the RSPB HQ in his constituency. Tut tut, Alistair – you can do so much better than this.
There are, of course many more who haven’t responded yet. If you have had a response from any MP and haven’t let me know then I’d be grateful if you would.
Of course most Conservative MPs are sending out a version of this standard letter. Some of them get rather shirty when you point out that all they have done is copied and pasted something sent to them by Defra, but that is basically what they have done. And it’s understandable that they do, given that MPs get letters from all directions on all sorts of subjects. But given that they are often just passing on the party line then there isn’t that much excuse for delay or non-communication – it’s not as though they are giving the matter much thought! And so you should treasure those MPs who have given it some thought and haven’t just passed on the party line to you.
Many of you are responding to your Conservative MP and then they are seeking more detail from Defra – this is then the standard response that you will get. It’s not very good, but it is not as bullish as previous versions.
In case you are wondering I will do a similar review of Labour MPs’ responses next week – they have had their party conference already and maybe at this moment are clearing the pile of correspondence off their desks. We’ll see. At the moment, Labour MPs are much less responsive to their constituents on this subject than are the Conservatives and it may be time to give them a firm nudge.