The 123,076 – mostly rural voters

123075It won’t come as a surprise to regular readers of this blog that the strongest support for our e-petition for banning driven grouse shooting came from rural constituencies. We’ve known this for ages!!

Just looking at England, for example, rural constituencies give stronger support for our e-petition than do urban ones:


And this difference remains when one breaks the signatures down by the party holding the constituency:


Even within political parties, rural constituencies support a ban on driven grouse shooting more than urban constituencies.  Not surprising, but worth keeping in mind…



46 Replies to “The 123,076 – mostly rural voters”

  1. Turns out having sneering Toffs tramping across the land in a fleet of Range Rovers and supported by a bunch of Harrods Hampers is not as beneficial to the local economy or local people as once thought. Not to mention their resident employees are little bullies who have been known to cosh locals if they think they can get away with it, and otherwise try to drive them off publicly accessible land.

  2. Nice the way you went from “rural constituencies” to “rural voters”. The assumption presumably being that rural constituencies contain mostly rural voters?

    According to Isos Mori that’s not true – urban voters predominate even in the most “rural” constituency.

    I’d be interested where you are getting your classification of predominately rural from? And what is a rural voter? Would someone in a market town count as “rural”?

    1. If you are using the office of national statistics definition Rural consists of (my caps):

      ” TOWN and fringe, village or hamlet and dispersed.”

      1. So what are you saying? That the only people who can be considered “rural” are those living in isolated cottages miles from anyone else? Ridiculous!

        I live on the edge of Thirsk, a small market town that had – at the 2011 census – a population of 4,998, and I’m unquestionably rural. As are the other 4,997 residents.

        1. No that’s not what I am saying. Mischaracterising what I am saying and then labelling it as ridiculous is plain dishonest.

          However there’s a pretty good argument that people that live in towns are urban. That’s because the dictionary definition of ‘urban’ is:

          in, relating to, or characteristic of a city or town.

          You’re near Ripon then? Would people living in the city of Ripon count as ‘Rural’?

          But yes ok if we count people living in towns as rural then I am sure Mark is right. It’s probably true to say most people that voted for his petition come from towns.

      2. I live 300m down an unsurfaced cart track about a mile from a small market town that’s really just a village. I also have no heating beyond a woodburner and crap broadband and no mobile signal, but I love the house I rent.

        Before that I lived 50m down a footpath from the nearest road (no vehicle access at all) on the outskirts of a village, and before that in a “town” that’s village sized and whose residents would be outraged if you called them urban.

        Rural enough for you?

        Seriously, the notion that country people by definition support all “country sports” and that anyone who doesn’t support all “country sports” is by definition a townie is somewhere between daft and insulting. There’s plenty of urban types who support grouse shooting – as the other petition shows. If you think all country people are on your side you should try getting out and talking to non hunting people a bit more.

        I note too that we live in a democracy. Rural residents who qualify as rural by your definition (ie living in the back of beyond and who enjoy grouse shooting) seem quite willing to take urban money to subsidise their schools, roads, power and telephone lines, broadband, land management, NHS, etc. At the risk of an unfortunate mix of metaphors, its not a one way street.

        And anyway, Urban people, even genuinely urban people, are entitled to a view on rural land use and wildlife crime, especially when it directly affects them (flooding etc), things they care about like wildlife and landscape, and is something they’re paying for. That’s true even if they never see the thing they care about, just as I care about blue whales despite never having seen one.

        I take it that you, being logically consistent, would be quite happy if the great whales had been hunted to extinction. After all, you’re not a “marine person” and I would guess have no economic or traditional interest in whales. It should be left up to the whalers, right? No one else has any right to a view or influence?

        Ditto Rhino and elephant poachers – let them maximise their income, nothing to do with us, what right does anyone else have to interfere?

        Giles, you’re trying to redefine the group of people with a legitimate interest in grouse shooting in a way that simply doesn’t stand up to evidence or reflection. I’d say you’re entitled to your opinion, and I suppose you are, but it’s undermined by the selectivity with which you apply your reasoning.

        Lots of rural people don’t like driven grouse shooting, and quite a few urban people do. Get over it.

        1. Your elegant dismemberment of Giles Bradshaw’s comments come close to indulging in blood sports ….

          1. He hasn’t “elegantly dismembered my comments” he’s making out I am saying something that I’m not and then attacking it. That’s not ‘elegant’ it’s dishonest.

            the notion that country people by definition support all "country sports" and that anyone who doesn't support all "country sports" is by definition a townie is somewhere between daft and insulting.

            A notion I have not expressed.

            Rural residents who qualify as rural by your definition (ie living in the back of beyond and who enjoy grouse shooting)

            A definition I have not made.

            I take it that you, being logically consistent, would be quite happy if the great whales had been hunted to extinction

            I’ve never said I would be happy if anything were hunted to extinction. To suggest I have is to lie.

            Giles, you're trying to redefine the group of people with a legitimate interest in grouse shooting in a way that simply doesn't stand up to evidence or reflection.

            No I am not I am merely suggesting that towns are urban.

      3. Giles, the point, surely, is that it is the supporters of grouse shooting (and other ‘field sports’) who have argued that opponents are ‘townies’ with no understanding of country ways and, by implication, no right to an opinion. We can argue over exactly what constitutes a rural voter but the distribution of people who signed the petition clearly gives the lie to this notion. If it was true we would expect the areas with the highest density of petition signers to overlap with the major conurbations – London, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, etc but this is not the case. The greatest densities are in the shires and especially in areas where grouse shooting takes place. The data clearly demonstrate that the suggestion that only townies oppose grouse shooting is wrong.

        I am sure that the majority of supporters of Mark’s petition would be more than happy to just focus on the merits of the arguments for and against DGS but it is supporters of DGS who have tried to make it a town v country issue and the onus is therefore on them to show that support for a ban is predominantly urban. Unfortunately for them the data do not remotely support such an idea.

        1. Jonathan I absolutely take your point. And I am not arguing it’s a town vs country issue. However it’s important to realise firstly that “rural” voters under Mark’s definition include people even in small cities like Ripon – which is classified as rural and secondly that his claim that most of the 123K were “rural” even under that definition of rural is not backed up by the figures.

          1. Hi Mark – yes it is important to tell the truth and your claim that most of your petioners are rural is patently not backed up by your data. I’m quite sure that if you think about it you’ll be able to see that.

          2. Are you able to justify your claim that most of the petioners are rural voters? I see nothing in the text of your blog that justifies it – do you?

            Is this kind of thing what you mean by “the science”?

          3. giles – no it’s not what anyone would mean by ‘the science’. That’s quite obvious.

            You have a point with the headline but you are happy with the text below the headline it seems.

            Actually, no-one knows where the voters actually live do they? And it’s not my categorisation it’s an existing one. Thank you for your interest in this subject.

    2. Well I think it’s more likely to get rural voters in a rural constituency. It’s a bit of a spurious designation anyway – how many of the people paying to blast grouse are actually town dwellers? I grew up in a council house, but it backed on to a cow field – I used to kick cowpats on the way to school – does that make me ‘country’? I have been living for the past 15 years in a flat that’s a five minute walk from a sheep farm, again does that make me a rural person? I know from working on a farm that most people who live in the country aren’t involved in ‘fieldsports’ and shop at supermarkets, watch soap operas and are not a separate or superior species from town dwellers. I call myself a townie because I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m the type who loudly brays how ‘country’ they are. It’s the Countryside Alienate etc that have been making the most of a supposed town versus country division so if an issue is being made of it here well that was driven by the opposition.

    3. Thanks for the heads up on how the pro-shooting mob are going to try and spin this. It is always good when someone lets us know how the other side are briefing their cronies.

        1. Excuse me Giles, but haven’t you on several occasions appeared on the execrable Field sports channel?

          1. Once – discussing and demonstrating my gun free deer dispersal method – how does promoting not using guns make me part of the ‘pro shooting mob’??

    4. Of course, the map generated by the petition is a fairly blunt tool but the suggestion that it somehow fails to undermine the contention that the issue is a simple one of townies vs country is specious nonsense. A look at the map generated by the pro-grouse shooting petition shows, as may be expected, that much support comes areas where grouse shooting dominates. However, support in the wider rural areas, even where other forms of shooting are popular, remains weak. It’s not hard to draw conclusions either from the fact that in southern England the constituencies where it has most support are those famous rural enclaves of Chelsea & Fulham (422), London & Westminster (227) and Kensington (221) plus their popular offshoot, the Cotswolds (306).

        1. Bradshaw, your endlessly splitting split hairs is tedious.
          The main points Mark is making still stand so why waist our time.
          You appear to be quibbling about definitions when even yours describe an inhabitant of a town as being both urban and rural. Even different dictionaries will give different meanings.
          Obviously it is a matter of degrees and Marks system is as good as any in showing the relationship of rural v urban concerning grouse shooting.

          Ripon is technically a city but it is a very small city with a market and access to the country from any spot with about a 10 minute walk. The constituency is rural which is what Mark is showing. I am sure I have given you more ammunition to quibble with but the access to the country is important. Living within a 10 minute walk of the country will effect your outlook in some way. I am not sure if inhabitants of Ripon would consider themselves urban or rural. I suspect there would be a mixture. Larger towns would obviously have more inhabitants who would consider themselves urban and vice versa.
          What exactly is your point apart from annoying everyone.

          1. And what is the ‘main ‘ point he is making – if it’s that most of the petioners were rural it’s wrong and doesn’t stand.

  3. Finally, a reply! And what a complete bottle job it is!

    Dear Mr. Cooper

    As I have already informed you there will be a Parliamentary evidence session on 18th with regards to this subject and therefore at present I have no additional comments to make on this subject. Please note that I am no longer a member of the APPG.

    Mark Garnier

    Member of Parliament for Wyre Forest

  4. Mark I’ve looked again at your figures – sorry to post AGAIn but I know how keen you are on ‘the science’ and I really think you need to get your maths right…

    Even if we assume from your chart that “rural” constituencies tend to have twice as many petitioners as urban constituencies that simple does not back up your headline claim that most of the petitioners were rural.

    Surely you can see why that is?

    Even if we accept people living in the middle of towns up to 10,000 and sometimes 30,000 as ‘rural’ that gives about 18% of the uk population as rural (according to the government). So my my reckoning ‘rural’ constituencies would have to be have FOUR times as many petioners as urban ones for the The 123,076 to be “mostly rural voters” as you claim.

    For a scientist I am really surprised to see you misusing statistics in this way. I’d have thought you’d be keen to correct this.

    You appear to be claiming two different things:

    a) “rural constituencies support a ban on driven grouse shooting more than urban constituencies” – fair enough.

    b) “The 123,076 – mostly rural voters” – highly dubious.

    To be absolutely fair I would accept that “rural” dwellers appear to be more interested in these issues that “urban” dwellers. But that doesn’t mean most of your signatories are “rural”. They MIGHT be but the figures don;t appear to support that claim.

    1. In a comment some months ago I characterised Giles as someone with a juvenile sense of logic. I actually felt quite bad about it afterwards, as I don’t really approve of personal rudeness on blogs such as this.
      But I’m feeling rather better now.
      Mark, you have the patience of a saint.

      1. It’s not got a lot to do with logic it’s just a chronically misleading (I am sure unintentionally) use of statistics

  5. Mark,

    Because when you had them leaflets printed you wanted folk to hand them out on remote rural footpaths? Come off it Mark. Stop playing games.



    1. Nigel – you have a point? I can’t see what it is. Can you? Or are you just playing games.

      Leaflets – what an underhand tactic to employ.

      1. Mark,

        You did say “We need urban lefties” in a tweet Mark, where do you think you will find them?

        1. Nigel – I guess one would find urban lefties in towns – where would you think? We needed them because urban Labour seats were rather weak in supporting our e-petition compared with rural Tory or rural LibDem seats. It’s quite simple isn’t it?

          But you don’t know where the leaflets were handed out do you? If you do, please send me the list because I’d love to know.

          1. giles – I wish you’d pointed them out earlier giles. Then we wouldn’t have failed so badly at 123,076 signatures. Many thanks for your retrospective and rather useless support.

          2. Hi Mark,

            So you just handed over leaflets to folk to distribute with no idea of where they lived? A good starting point to understanding where most of the leaflets went I would say.

          3. Nigel – the petition closed three weeks ago with 123,076 signatures. It’s touching that you are so concerned about how we got there, but rather than living in the past maybe you should move on.

            GroMExit means GroMExit!

          4. That was only a wee jokey Mark – you come across as a little uptight at times – although always hard to discern people’s real state of mind over the internet.

            To b fair I am sure you could extrapolate all sorts of things from the geographic spread of your petioners. Putting the potential slew due to targeting of leafletting &c aside for the moment I would imagine that one could make statistical inferences about the age, class and racial profiles of responders. We might call that “the science” how one uses “the science” is of course where the politics comes in. You could have run a blog entitled “the 127,023 – mostly middle class white old gits”.

            Not that I am saying they ARE (see previous posts).

            Nor that I am saying there is anything wrong wth such people.

  6. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the suggestion but it was you who blogged on the majority of rural voters (See Above) Naturally I thought it was that you wanted to discuss and not moving on. Hey ho, each to their own.



  7. Bradshaw you wrote ‘And what is the ‘main ‘ point he is making – if it’s that most of the petioners were rural it’s wrong and doesn’t stand.’
    Did he say that? Aren’t you the one who is a fan of straw man arguments.
    We are not so stupid. I am sure most of us read these statistics as exactly what they are, nothing more. More petitioners come from rural constituencies.

    You seem to be missing the wood for the chloroplasts. Perhaps you think that nit-picking makes you look clever but unfortunately it does the opposite.
    A child could interpret Mark’s blogs to mean just what they mean nothing more.

    The main point is that this dichotomy invented by the grouse lobby of townie v country is false and appears to be the opposite. It really is that simple. Do you have a problem with exposing that lie or only quibbling about the title of this blog-post.

    It is also absurd to divide everyone into only 2 groups but that is what the grouse lobby have done not Mark.
    On its own the town v country false dichotomy is also totally irrelevant even if it were true but as the grouse lobby continue to spew this nonsense and it is almost bound to come up in the parliamentary debate, we are almost obliged to take the piss out of it.
    I consider all this a bit of a laugh. The science isn’t perfect but it soundly demolishes the grouse lobby lie and we have some fun in the process.

    1. “Did he say that?”
      yes – it’s right at the top in big bold letters

      as for the rest of your posts thank you and I enjoyed reading them but they are not directly related to the point I was making which was quite a simple one mainly based on maths not politics

  8. Bradshaw, if you were a true sceptic rather than a troll you might consider another way of looking at this.
    Rather than looking at places like Ripon which are in the middle of the rural-urban spectrum and which could be used to confuse the issue (even though the definitions are quite clear as posted by Douglas Mcfarlane), why not look at the metropolis’s which have no rural element at all. Wouldn’t that be sensible? That would be a proof wouldn’t it about the claim that ‘townies’ are ones supporting a ban?
    Compare the maps on with Mark’s petition maps of London, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool.
    I think we can leave Bristol out of it as they appear to be a bunch of tree-hugging, townie, Trotskyites determined to upset the apple-cart.

    1. You are missing the point entirely hand have failed to take into account the white fat bloke demographic

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