The significance of the 100,000 signatures for a ban on driven grouse shooting in a UK e-petition are various. And they come not so much because of the number of supporters but even more so in the speed of that support. 100,000 signatures inside 20 full days is impressive by any standards. It is impressive by the measure of the scale of opposition against a badger cull, for example. But in 20 days? Stunning – if I say so myself. thank you to all who have signed and helped to get those signatures.
It would be nice to gain more signatures, and I’ll be trying to do so over the next few days but the speed is the thing. This has not been a hard slog, it’s been a flood of support.
That flood will be noted in Holyrood where the much-awaited Werritty report may already look like yesterday’s news when it is published some time soon. The Wild Justice e-petition, despite the fact that it will be answered by Defra, is a UK e-petition with very strong support in Scotland. There are many, many more signatures for a ban of driven grouse shooting in Scotland than have ever been amassed there for licensing or the status quo. A good licensing scheme would be some sort of a step forward, and is SNP policy but is demonstrably not the most popular option. Licensing is a way of maintaining a slightly improved unsustainable land use – it’s like licensing slave owners when the aim is to get rid of slavery. It’s not what many want and it’s a bit feeble as an approach. And it will be even more feeble once the powerful vested interests of grouse shooting landowners have their input. Roseanna Cunningham must take notice of the UK strength of feeling, and the strength of feeling indicated in Scotland alone in this UK e-petition.
Defra won’t budge an inch but the Conservative Party ought to look at those marginal seats where the strength of feeling on driven grouse shooting is high and ponder the consequences. What price the hopeless and unpopular Craig Whittaker holding Calder Valley with his slim majority of 609 votes if Defra remain implacably and notoriously resistant to any change in policy over the wildlife criminals who burn our moors, kill our wildlife and flood our homes? Calder Valley is ripe for the plucking but there are other seats in line too.
The Lib Dems ought to turn out in their legions to speak in a debate on the future of grouse shooting. They have remained silent on this issue so far but many of the constituencies they need to win, or keep, are strong on banning driven grouse shooting. It would be foolish to continue to ignore this issue completely, Lib Dems.
Labour has announced that it wants a review on grouse shooting. Good. Is that it? That line won’t gain many votes in the next general election which is not far away.
The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is wonderful. Let’s all join them. When will Sheffield, Yorkshire, Durham, Lancashire, Cumbria and others get more active on the ills of driven grouse shooting? Where is the northern powerhouse of Wildlife Trusts on this issue? Not looking very powerful from here…
And last, but by no means least, where on Earth is the RSPB on this issue? I appreciated the fulsome congratulations of Martin Harper, but the RSPB looks as though it is off the pace and out of touch with its membership on this issue, and has done for years now. The fact is that the RSPB position is a staff and Council position which has no mandate from the membership. And if you think I’m wrong, why not ask the RSPB membership and find out?
I don’t think that 100,000 signatures will make a jot of difference to this government, but the significance of that number, and the speed with which it has been achieved, is significant. Will we, I wonder, get a government response to this e-petition before parliament is suspended, or before a general election? Take note decison-makers – the people are speaking. Wilful blindness is no longer an option.
We will soon learn when Boris Johnson is cutting short the life of all e-petitions but until then the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting is still open and welcomes more support (though we won’t be frantically chasing further support having made it across the 100,000 signature line so quickly).