Labour on driven grouse shooting – shhhhhhhhh!

The English MP who is the Hen Harrier champion is Angela Smith, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge.  She has, in the past, been an outspoken critic of killing of birds of prey, especially in her own Peak District constituency. Angela was also one of very few non-Conservative MPs to speak in the Westminster Hall debate on banning driven grouse shooting. I gather the time restrictions on speeches, imposed according to the rules because so many MPs (almost all Tories) wished to speak, meant that she had to cut out large chunks of what she was expected to say.  Water under the bridge now.

Last week, at a conference in Sheffield on peatlands, which I was unable to attend, Angela spoke briefly and mentioned the illegal killing of raptors, including Hen Harriers. She is said to have said ‘The persecution of the Hen Harrier has to stop before any progress can be made’ – which is consistent with what she said last year.

Trouble is, Labour doesn’t have a line on what happens when the persecution doesn’t stop nor what happens if it does.

It won’t be Angela Smith who determines the Opposition’s line on these things, that task resides with Sue Hayman. So, if the bad boys don’t behave what will be the punishment?  The SNP have introduced vicarious liability (which must have some impact on the problem) and appear to be moving steadily towards licensing of shooting estates – in England Labour doesn’t even have a plan despite 123,077 people signing an e-petition calling for driven grouse shooting to be banned the Labour party doesn’t even have a line on the subject.

It was disappointing that the Hen Harrier champion was unable to support Findlay Wilde’s thunderclap which went out over 11 million social media accounts on the #Inglorious12th.  The Westminster Hen Harrier champion’s voice was absent despite the thunderclap attracting strong support from the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, the RSPCA and LACS (and lots of others).

Come on Labour – we’re talking about grouse shooting here – which side are you on?  The many or the few?

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing’

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12 Comments

  1. Jeff P says:

    I noticed Corbyn recently referred to a trip to the Cairngorms and how he was struck by the absence of any Golden Eagles. He also cited the regularity with which dead Peregrines and Hen Harriers turn up on shooting estates and the need for increased police resource to tackle these crimes.
    On the other hand perhaps Michael Gove, who was yesterday wearing a Hen Harrier badge, will step up to tackle this!?
    Strange times in which we live.

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    • Mark says:

      Jeff P - well, there are two bits of information which I didn't know. Both are indeed very interesting. Thank you.

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  2. Mairi says:

    Slightly off subject, but I must say I was impressed ( probably for the first time ever!) with the reply from my Conservative MP, following my email re post Brexit regulations. Likely it was cut-and-paste content, but sounded good news - if they actually carry it out, of course! Actins speak louder than words- so perhaps they can all start wearing Hen Harrier badges! Should we all post one to our MP's?!

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  3. Des McKenzie says:

    I wouldn't bother. Hunt wears an NHS one.

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  4. Peter Shearer says:

    When Jeremy Corbyn recently spoke at Carlisle he did refer to ending the subsidies for grouse- moor owners and I cheered loudly-as did quite a few others! But I do agree that the Labour party needs to get much more involved with this, as presented properly I think it will win votes.

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    • Mark says:

      Peter - that is good, but it's something that George Eustice the Defra Ag Minister has also suggested - and he may have an earlier opportunity to implement it. I'd say that Corbyn's words are good - but they are in the category of 'catching up' rather than setting the pace.

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  5. Oliver Craig says:

    Making laws sounds fine, but enforcing them is another matter. We need a complete change as regards land ownership and until we do this wanton destruction of wildlife will continue. Maybe we should stop giving subsidies too these estates under the guise of agricultural needs.

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    • nimby says:

      Support should only be available to smaller farmers (not agri-industrialists) able to demonstrate public benefit. NE have a potential conflict of interest so a new system needs to be found to monitor compliance.

      Vicarious Liability is something urgently needed to bring us in line with Scotland.

      In terms of providing funds to restore upland peat bogs particularly, one might ponder why HM Treasury hasn't considered taxation of income from the large shooting estates? Likewise David Cameron kept the cost of gun licences well below actual costs of licencing firearms.

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  6. Peter Shearer says:

    Agreed that Labour have been slow with this, but I will be amazed if we get any progress from a Conservative Government. Rory Stewart was quite helpful and welcoming in his conversations with me when he was at Defra, but the actions have yet to match the words! I think Scotland will make a move long before England do.

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  7. Roderick Leslie says:

    Sadly, Labour has never been good on the 'rural' (as opposed to countryside where they've done great things eg Right to Roam).

    In the present turmoil, wouldn't it be fantastic if Labour could generate a real policy position for rural areas ? Challenge the Conservatives in their own back yard.

    Despite the great efforts of several labour MPs, it wouldn't be easy - but I'd be ready help.

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  8. Jim Clarke says:

    From the current experience of the tree felling program in Sheffield it seems obvious that many Labour MPs and Councillors treat ecological issues, even 'urban' ones, with blank incredulity followed by a palpable fear of the unknown. When they hear such magical incantations as 'biodiversity' their reaction is to see conspiracy to undermine them everywhere; it's the middle class, it's the Greens, it's the Liberal Democrats, it's....etc, etc, while, of course, using their standard tactic of trying to smear people protesting against their decisions (though vacillating between calling the same people airhead hippy tree-huggers one day and, I kid you not, aggressive racists the next might not be the most convincing strategy!). Please note, though, that I specify Labour MPs and make special reference to the Councillors. Along with people of all political hues (and non) many ordinary (though not infrequently now ex) Labour Party members have been at the forefront of the protest movement and some local labor groups have raised their voice too.

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  9. nimby says:

    Angela Smith stuck with the popular line, and that's great but she said that last year and what progress?

    There was no explanation as to precisely what "before any progress" actually meant.

    Avoiding or worse, dodging detail because of complexity of the issue is frankly a cop out reminiscent of Nero?

    It may well be that politicians stick with popular topics they see as easy votes, NHS, education etc.? Brexit is clearly causing them enough grief without illegal raptor persecution, unscientific badger cull etc. to test their capabilities?

    Having said that Natalie Bennett (Green Party) showed a thorough understanding across a whole range of environmental / wildlife issues.

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