Recent guest blogs

Guest blogs – don’t you just love them? I do, they save me some work and help create a diverse series of views on this blog (as do those who comment here). In the last 10 days I’ve been able to publish four varied and excellent guest blogs. I’d like to thank all four authors – they are all welcome to write here again. But what about you – when are you going to dare to send me a guest blog? Here are some simple guidelines.

Derek Gow’s guest blog at the beginning of last week was amazing. I thought so when I read it and it seems that you did too. It attracted an almost record number of ‘likes’ and an almost record number of page views for a single blog post here – well over 5000 and still rising.

It attracted comments, either here or on social media from many people including the President of the NFU (Twitter) and best-selling author James Rebanks (here). I thought that James’s comment on Derek’s tone was amusing – based on my reading of his own book it sounded a bit like pots and kettles to me. But feisty comments are welcome here.

I gather that some doors have potentially opened for Derek through his guest blog here – that gives me a lot of pleasure.

Kerri ni Dochartaigh’s guest blog was in a completely different style but equally a great read.

And I loved the way that she praised Mary Colwell’s book on the Curlew.

I gather that potential opportunities have opened up for Kerri too as a result of the bit of exposure that this blog gave her.

A blog from a pro-shooting organisation isn’t a first on this blog, and I’d be happy to publish more of them, but it is somewhat unusual. I’m grateful to Caroline Bedell of BASC for her response to an earlier, very short, blog post of my own.

I think it was fair enough for people to bang on about lead ammunition in the comments, but perhaps not enough credit was given to BASC and Caroline for turning up here in the first place. I for one welcomed their appearance and would welcome them back again on other topics.

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I enjoyed Shaun Spiers’s guest blog on Brexitish subjects. And it was perfectly fair for him to attempt to have a pop at me since I had had a pop at the NGO movement.


I remain of the view that the NGO movement has had pitifully little influence on any of the outcomes so far. They are confusing access to government with influence on government. And, as a member of several of the oragnisations which comprise Greener UK, I have been unimpressed by how much I’ve been told about this ultra-powerful alliance and its great victories until I gave them a bit of a poke. And I know I am not alone – not alone in the very organisations that are members of Greener UK. A very senior member of one of them contacted me to say that Shaun was wrong, and I was right, yesterday evening.

But the debate is welcome and I respect Shaun for many reasons – which doesn’t mean that he doesn’t ever talk nonsense though. And ‘grand’? Not me! And ‘retired’? Not me!

These four guest blogs set a high, slightly scary, perhaps, standard for others to follow but many voices, including ones disagreeing with my views, are welcome here. Thank you to these four authors for making the last 10 days rather good ones for this blog.

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7 Replies to “Recent guest blogs”

  1. Absolutely fair enough to bang on about lead to your guest blogger from BASC! A blog about plastic cartridges that completely ignores the far more harmful stuff that is fired out of them. And then she simply ignores the comments section, either through disinterest or embarrassment. Credit for turning up and writing the blog, yes, but if anything, I think she has done more harm than good from a BASC perspective - something that could easily be rectified by a guest blog on lead. Perhaps she is drafting one?

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  2. Hi Mark, I'm glad you liked my blog, and thank you for the chance to write it. However, I'm at a bit of a loss to know how to respond to the fact that you "remain of the view that the NGO movement has had pitifully little influence on any of the [Brexit] outcomes so far".

    The way a debate usually works is that Person A comes up with a proposition, and Person B disputes it, ideally with evidence. Person A then comes back and contests Person B's evidence. But if Person A merely repeats their original proposition, without addressing Person B's case (as set out in an evidence-rich blog, for instance...) the exchange is fruitless.

    In this case, far from confusing access with influence I complained that we weren't being courted by ministers in the latest flurry of Brexit activity. Unlike trade union leaders, we haven't had our moment with the PM. But I console myself with the knowledge that we have won changes to the EU Withdrawal Act, the draft UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, the draft Political Declaration and a number of vitally important Statutory Instruments. That's influence. Is there another sector which has enjoyed so much over the last two years?

    We can't definitively claim successes on the environment, trade, fisheries, agriculture or trade bills because these bills haven't yet been enacted, but we're working hard with Parliamentarians and civil servants to improve them. We are also mobilising our supporters - see here, for instance: https://environmentbill.typeform.com/to/Jbeijh. We plan a big lobby of Parliament (with Stop Climate Chaos, development NGOs, the NUS and others) on 26 June. I hope you and lots of your readers will join it.

    Your has, however, demonstrated that we're not communicating well enough on the work we're doing, so thank you for that. We'll work to improve our communications. As we do so, I hope you'll be persuaded that environmental NGOs really are enjoying significant influence on Brexit-related issues, and that you'll get behind our efforts.

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    1. Shaun - how would you like me or anyone else to get behind whatever it is that you'd like us to get behind? We can't actually see it...

      I did hear about the big lobby of parliament earlier today actually - but not from anyone in GreenerUK. Sounds good - this blog will be happy for you to publicise it here as well as in many other places, of course. Another guest blog?

      Your guest blog is very good and very welcome but only partly convincing. NGOs tend to claim the credit for anything that goes vaguely in the direction of what they were asking for even if it would have happened anyway - I must have done it myself once or twice, I guess. I'm not convinced but other readers might be. But I'm partly not convinced because I talk to lots of others in the movement who aren't convinced either. But we all wish you well because this is very important for our environmental future. You see? I am right behind you, even if I don't know where you are!

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  3. Shaun, I will complete your survey but wonder what difference it will make to what the government intends. I won't be coming to London because I'm an armchair activist, and normally won't undertake things I would not be happy for schoolchildren to participate in. I'm happy to write to my MP although I do view it as a waste of my time normally. I respond to many government consultations. I would like to sign any government petitions of you tell me about them. Few if any NGOs enthuse me with the actions they ask me to undertake.
    What actions do you wish me undertake in support of your activities at the moment?

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    1. Thanks, Alex, if you fill in the survey, that will help: the number of responses does have an impact on MPs. There will be other 'calls to action' from Greener UK members, 38 degrees and others in the coming months. When the final environment bill is published, we may ask people to write to MPs or the government - at the moment we have a draft bill which has yet to go through pre-legilslative scrutiny.

      We generated a significant response to the government's initial consultation on the bill - there were 176,746 responses in all, the vast majority as a result of Greener UK's campaign, supported by Wildlife and Countryside Link. I know the scale of the response made a difference to the draft bill.

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  4. I'd also like to compliment all the recent guest blkggers,including Caroline Befell, who must have wondered what the reception she might receive here. Im sure that I'm not alone in being impressed with the quality and range of subjects.

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  5. , but perhaps not enough credit was given to BASC and Caroline for turning up here in the first place.

    That her group exists to turn up anywhere is enough to earn her, and all of them, eternal scorn. The only credit she get from me is when she writes a guest piece about how sorry she is and then the whole rotten industry disbands. No credit for trying to PR puff here or anywhere else.

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