In this month’s copy of The Field there is a page about the role of the the GWCT’s science in defending ‘our way of life’ which is surely a misprint for ‘our hobby of death’.
The article is written by the GWCT’s chair, the tadpole conserver himself, Mr Ian Coghill, and it is basically an advert and a plea for money rolled into one. Apparently, when Mr Coghill shoots he enters a special world ‘surrounded by happy and amusing like-minded people’. Is he sure? They must get angry and nasty as soon as they go on Twitter then, I guess.
I just thought you ought to know that Mr Coghill has a word for you, if you were one of the 120000 (123,077 actually) who signed the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting (although he omits the word driven), apparently you did so through prejudice or because you were led astray by the likes of me and Chris Packham.
The point, I think, of Mr Coghill’s article is to claim that it was ‘the GWCT wot won it’ for the grouse shooters. And the way that the GWCT won it, was through providing science. Then Mr Coghill makes a plea for more money and more members for the GWCT so that their science can fight off people like me, you and Chris Packham again.
It all reads a bit desperately to me. And the reason, I suggest, that GWCT needs some more dosh and members is exactly the opposite of the reason that Mr Coghill suggests; it is because GWCT is becoming less and less relevant to the future of shooting, because the last thing that shooting needs is the science to come out on its impacts. Let’s take lead ammunition as one example; the GWCT kept its head well and truly down on that subject and played no real part in it except for Ian Coghill himself flouncing out of the expert group set up to look at the subject when he realised that the science couldn’t be denied. It was the Countryside Alliance and the shooting press who played the largest part, it seemed to me, in putting pressure on government not to phase out lead ammunition. You don’t need a bunch of scientists when you have the ears of Defra ministers and those ministers are quite happy to ignore the science completely.
And you really don’t need a bunch of scientists when the evidence is unlikely to help your case very much, as it doesn’t on driven grouse shooting. We hardly see a GWCT scientist in public these days, it’s always our favourite spin-doctor Andrew Gilruth (or is Amanda our favourite still?) who is spinning like a top. GWCT was unable to field a single scientist, trustee or member to speak at the Bird Fair debate on the future of driven grouse shooting, remember. Can you recall the GWCT doing any science on flood risk or greenhouse gases that has been used in this debate so far? And nor will they in the future.
The truth is that the GWCT is in slow decline, which I feel rather sad about, and that is with its former friends (that includes me) and those who might be regarded as its customers in the shooting industry. In a post-truth world it is difficult to be an organisation based on science supporting an industry which needs science like it needs a hole in the head when it comes to justifying its existence.
If this really were an advert it might be worth taking it to the ASA but as it is an article in The Field we can just turn the page and buy a copy of the Naked Strewth or other naked calendars with our money which do at least support a good cause.