Martin Harper was interviewed on Farming Today this morning. Martin did well but it was one of those unsatisfactory interviews where Anna Hill simply got lots of things wrong – listen here from about 9 minutes into the programme through until the end.
In the introduction (which Martin won’t have heard until today) Hill says ‘The RSPB currently campaigns against shooting wild birds including driven grouse shooting’ – no it doesn’t. If the BBC made such an error in its political news coverage then it would be pilloried but because the BBC, even on its flagship farming programme, knows little and cares little about wildlife and its conservation it often gets these things wrong. My impression is much more often when Anna Hill is the presenter than at other times but I may be wrong.
She went on to say that the RSPB had held back from criticising organised shooting of reared gamebirds (no it hasn’t) because of its Royal Charter (no, that has nothing to do with it). Not a very impressive introduction to the piece.
The RSPB is off the pace on the number of gamebirds released each year though, they keep saying, as Martin did here, ‘up to 50 million gamebirds a year’ whereas the latest (industry) figures are 47m Pheasants and 10m Red-legged Partridges.
Anna Hill later assumed that the RSPB was going to campaign against gamebird shooting in the future – where did that come from? Martin hadn’t said that in this interview (not in what was broadcast and not, I’d be pretty certain, in any unbroadcast comments either).
But quoting the Countryside Alliance’s rudeness at the RSPB was a mistake as Martin made a lot of good points clearly, politely and firmly in response.
I thought it was interesting that Martin made no attempt to play down the importance of the review and stressed again that the membership would be involved. We all look forward to hearing how that will come about.