Given that this is the last day of life, if you call that living, of the e-petition in support of grouse shooting (currently standing at 25,320 signatures), it is interesting to look back to the debate in parliament and the MPs who spoke or intervened in that debate.
Here are two lists of MPs, a sadly short list of MPs who expressed concerns about grouse shooting (not necessarily in favour of a ban) and a much longer list of MPs, many of whom were gushingly enthusiastic about grouse shooting. The lists are colour-coded by the political affiliation of the MPs. Those MPs who appear to be representing the views of their constituents are shown in bold. Each MP line has two numbers on it – first the number of signatures in favour of banning driven grouse shooting and second the number of signatures in favour of grouse shooting for their constituency:
MPs expressing concern about driven grouse shooting:
Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion) 474, 7
Richard Arkless (SNP, Dumfries and Galloway) 330, 104
Kerry McCarthy (Lab, Bristol East) 299, 5
Angela Smith (Lab, Penistone and Stocksbridge) 266, 69
Rachael Maskell (Lab, York Inner) 263, 18
Holly Lynch (Lab, Halifax) 186, 20
Lisa Cameron (SNP, East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) 169, 22
Stephen Timms (Lab, East Ham) 49, 2
MPs apparently in favour of driven grouse shooting:
Rishi Sunak (Con, Richmond) 323, 542
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Con, Cotswolds) 288, 347
Richard Benyon (Con, Newbury) 196, 188
Nigel Adams (Con, Selby and Ainsty) 226, 141
Bill Wiggin (Con, North Herefordshire) 271, 126
Nick Herbert (Con, Arundel and South Downs) 324, 108
Henry Bellingham (Con, North West Norfolk) 244, 106
Antoinette Sandbach (Con, Eddisbury) 173, 96
Therese Coffey (Con, Suffolk Coastal) 370, 84
Andrew Bingham (Con, High Peak) 569, 72
Chris Davies (Con, Brecon and Radnorshire) 244, 70
Julian Sturdy (Con, York Outer) 263, 52
Nicholas Soames (Con, Mid Sussex) 220, 43
Craig Whittaker (Con, Calder Valley) 870, 31
Simon Hart (Con, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire) 180, 30
Jonathan Djanogly (Con, Huntingdon) 237, 29
Richard Drax (Con, South Dorset) 248, 28
Steve Double (Con, St Austell and Newquay) 234, 24
Jim Shannon (DUP, Strangford) 72, 22
Gerald Howarth (Con, Aldershot) 138, 20
Danny Kinahan (UUP, South Antrim) 89, 17
Charles Walker (Con, Broxbourne) 85, 8
Just a few comments:
The debate split along party lines – except that the Lib Dems didn’t turn up at all!
All 8 MPs expressing concern over driven grouse shooting were in tune with their constituents (at least as far as their responses to these two petitions are concerned) but only 2 out of 22 MPs speaking in favour of grouse shooting had any reason to believe that there was a majority view of that nature amongst their constituents.
Overall, those 8 MPs expressing concern were speaking on behalf of 2016 of their constituents and against the expressed wishes of only 247 of their constituents.
Those 22 MPs expressing support for driven grouse shooting were speaking on behalf of 2184 of their constituents and against the wishes of 5864 of their constituents. All of these MPs were either Conservative or unionists from Northern Ireland.
Both Rachael Maskell (former Shadow Defra Sec) and Therese Coffey (Defra minister) were constrained on what they could say, as they were doing their jobs at the time.
Simon Hart MP is the Chair of, and a paid consultant for, the Countryside Alliance.
Craig Whittaker’s Calder Valley constituency provided the highest number of signatures supporting a ban of driven grouse shooting, almost certainly because of local views that flooding there had been exacerbated by moorland management on nearby grouse moors, and below average support for grouse shooting. For whom was he speaking in the debate? Perhaps for the grouse moor managers whom he visited to be briefed ahead of the debate rather than his constituents?
Charles Walker ought to invite the mere 8 of his constituents who agree with his view round for a meal at his house.
When the public is asked there is a strong call for driven grouse shooting to be banned and little support for grouse shooting to be protected. A few Conservative MPs and this government are the keenest advocates of driven grouse shooting whatever the views of the electorate as a whole and those of their constituents in particular.