Dishonourable members

A one-word summary of Monday’s Westminster ‘debate’ on driven grouse shooting:

Dishonourable: adjective.

Bringing shame or disgrace on someone or something.

Synonyms: disgraceful, shameful, shameless, disreputable, discreditable, degrading, ignominious, ignoble, blameworthy, contemptible, despicable, reprehensible, shabby, shoddy, sordid, sorry, base, low, improper, unseemly, unworthy, unprincipled, unscrupulous, corrupt, untrustworthy, treacherous, perfidious, traitorous, villainous, shady, crooked, low-down, dirty, rotten.

Transcript of proceedings here

Video of proceedings here

The dissection of what was said (and more importantly, what wasn’t said) during this ‘debate’ will go on for some time and we’ll come back to that in due course. Discussions are already underway on our next move – rest assured, this is not the end. But for now, we just want to comment on the political process. Mark Avery has some initial thoughts on this here, and so do we.

petitionThe ability for members of the public to petition Westminster on issues that are of concern to them was set up quite recently. A Petitions Committee was established to consider e-petitions from the public as a way of getting items on to the political agenda. In a Government press release (here), Dr Therese Coffey MP, speaking as the Deputy Leader of the House, said:

The new Petitions Committee builds on the reforms of the last Parliament to improve public engagement with politics. This is the first time voters will be able to petition Parliament electronically through the Petitions Committee for action by the government on topical issues that really matter to people – and we will listen to what they have to say“. [Emphasis is ours].

In light of what has happened with ‘our’ petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting, here’s a more accurate description of the process:

‘Start a petition, base your case on overwhelming scientific evidence, work your arse off to get it past the 100,000 signature threshold, come along to Westminster where you can give evidence in front of a hostile panel of MPs, some of whom will have a clear conflict of interest. The Petitions Committee Chair will be inexplicably rude towards you and you’ll be giving evidence alongside an organisation that doesn’t even support the aim of your petition. The Committee will then hear from two further organisations that oppose your petition, and they will be allowed to include anecdotes about what they’ve seen from their kitchen window as the basis of their evidence. One of the MPs serving on the Petitions Committee will also be a senior employee of one of the opposing organisations who will feed easy questions to your opponents. The Petitions Committee will ignore the written evidence of over 200 people that has been submitted in support of your petition.

A couple of weeks later, a member of the Petitions Committee will introduce your petition for a debate in Westminster Hall. He will set the scene by admitting that he doesn’t understand the basis for the petition, make wild assumptions about the motivation of the 123,077 people who signed your petition, and provide to the house a biased and uninformed opinion of the topic. A ‘debate’ will then ensue, whereby MPs, many with clear vested interests in opposing your petition, will refer to you as the ‘perpetrator of the petition’ (implying that you are a criminal) and will use parliamentary privilege to accuse you of being a liar, of using ‘premeditated malice’ and of being ‘dishonest’. They will either ignore or willfully misinterpret every piece of scientific evidence that has been made available to them that supports your petition and instead will deny that there’s any problem that needs addressing. They will tell lies and they will question the intelligence of the petition signatories. There will be no quorum required for this ‘debate’. The respective Government Minister will sit through the ‘debate’ with complete disinterest other than using the time to check her phone and clear out the contents of her handbag. At the end she will stand up and deliver a prepared speech that will reveal the Government’s total indifference to the topic, its total dismissal of all relevant scientific evidence, and its total disrespect for the views of the 123,077 members of the public who signed your petition’.

73 thoughts on “Dishonourable members”

  1. I detect a certain level of anger not usually evident in your posts but fully justified in this case. However, sadly I expected a result of this sort. My faith and trust in politicians has sunk even lower.

  2. Absolutely disgusted with the whole thing. The evidence giving and the debate were ridiculous! They were so rude and horrible to him and about him.

  3. And the message they send through all of that to those involved in systematic persecution of our native wildlife, “don’t worry, just carry on with what you have been doing, nothing is going to change”.

    It will change though, and some of those arrogant and disrespectful members of parliament may actually find it contributes to their own downfall, and in the longer term they will be replaced by a new generation who respect and understand the widespread concern and dismay at the current state of affairs, and don’t simply give in to vested interests…

  4. If it makes you feel any better…..I am not aware of one of these petitions that has succeeded.
    This initiative is simply lip service and of very little value imo.
    On the plus side it brings people together, and 123000 is a lot of objections.

  5. I have for some time believed that the very idea of e petitions is just another way to control us…lead us to believe, wrongly, that by triggering a debate about something we can have some effect on legislation. All that needs to happen is for a few MPs to turn up to the debate, chitchat a bit, go through the motions then declare that nothing will change, but hey, at least we talked about it. Bit like a metaphorical pat on the head by those who know better. I could be wrong because of course I’m only one of the oiks who clicked on that sign button. I consider myself very lucky however as I saw a Kite up close and personal this morning. Just wow !

  6. Funny they don’t treat the Brexit referendum like that…it seem it is one set of rules for dealing with intelligent grouse moor opponents by calling them stupid and not worth consideration and the Referendum where the stupid are imbued with intelligence they don’t display…get their way.
    It just shows that they treat the democratic process with disdain and make up procedure, rules and policies…let alone laws as some of them seem fit…
    Democracy is nonexistent…
    In some places Allah obviates democracy in others like the UK it is money.

  7. We all know that when the vested interests of Tory MPs stand in the way of democracy and science, they close ranks and tell us to fuck off back to the irrelevant depths of what they call society (but what we know is class) that we had the irritating temerity to speak up from.

  8. As I said in a previous post, Westminster is the establishments first line of defence. The British raj goes on as ever, corrupt, secretive and arrogant. No respite for our wildlife here.

  9. I skimmed through the Hansard report with an increasing sense of disgust at the plain hatred evinced by many of the Hon Members towards anyone with concern not just for raptors but for the environment, about flooding etc. The member who referred what an un-named “chap” who had seen some chicks had told him took the biscuit. They were almost all English and it would be interesting to see a petition going into Holyrood.

  10. I’ll repeat my comment from Mark’s blog.

    It comes as no surprise that the tory shooters turned out in force and that the CA were smugly telling anyone who’d listen on social media what a victory it was. The simple fact is the people who are supposed to represent us in Government are just there to meet their own agendas or that of their sponsors.

    The electorate have spoken many times before and simply been ignored (especially on environmental issues) and this is a prime example. The Badger cull, fracking, the promise to repeal the hunting act – there simply isn’t the support from the people and yet the Government will steam roller through their ideas and allow their friends in the CA and NFU to pretty much dictate policy.

    I applaud (Mark) you for even getting it to this stage and I believe it to be just the first step on the road to change but that road will be a very long one and somewhere along that road we’ll need a complete change of Government and overhaul of how we put these people in power.

      1. The main subject is about people realizing the the government aren’t interested in anything that the people want if it isn’t in alignment with the CA , Natural England and the NFU, the landowners, the estate owners and the police work for them. My example was a situation in which [Ed: this part deleted – off topic]. Just as the Select Committee meeting had NFU, CA MPs etc. 1 is paid £30,000 a yr by the CA. And watching the Parliamentary debate was just the usual take over by the landowners and their parliamentary supports.

  11. I have already written to my MP to express my anger at how this “debate” was handled and how ludicrous it makes our democracy look. In addition, I have exchanged views with people at the RSPB, who I think must now step up or risk losing many supporters. In addition, I have sent a letter to the local paper asking everyone who cares about our native wildlife to ask questions of any business that sells grouse re sustainability and wildlife crime. Well, it has made me feel a bit better, and we all need to do everything we can to keep up the pressure.

  12. Where were all the Labour, Liberal, SNP MP’S etc. they, by their absence, were as much a disgrace as the Tory’s who we new would be against the petition. The whole debacle was a farce. The RSPB were also a disgrace for not supporting this petition, how they can claim that they are ‘Protecting Birds’ beggars believe. If they got rid of the likes of Martin Harper there is a chance that they could get some of their old and trusted members back.

    1. Here is my reply from Stuart Donaldson MP (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine)

      “In regard to the upcoming debate on banning driven grouse shooting on Monday 31st at 4.30pm in Westminster Hall. I can confirm that I will attend, but do not plan to speak as the legislation affects England and Wales only.”

      It seems the SNP stayed quiet.

      In terms of treatment, I was struck by the contrast in the reception of the two petitions between the two parliaments – Logan Steele’s petition on behalf of SRSG to the Scottish Parliament – respectful, interested, questioning perhaps even shock at the level of criminality alleged and Mark Avery’s to the UK Parliament – disrespectful, insulting Mr rather than Dr Avery, disparaging of the petitioner and those who signed it, rude, and all the Tories seem to be in denial that there is a problem.

      We will not go away.

      1. But did they get the upper hand? Not in my mind. The 2 speeches by Rachael Maskell and Kerry McCarthy far outweighed all the ‘beyond the facts’ (BTF) of the grouse lobby puppets.
        Where i did feel really disappointed was in the lack of interjections of those ‘BTFs’. Perhaps there were too many to intervene but it was probably more a case of there not being enough well prepped ministers with the knowledge needed. It was a very poor effort on that front because an elementary knowledge could have demolished a lot of the BTFs.
        I guess there were much more important BTFs than the ones that i remember but surely it would have been worth intervening on these ‘facts from the beyond’ in no particular order:

        1. Grey Partridge (mentioned twice) on grouse moors. Correct me if i’m wrong but i have seen Red-legged Partridge on moorland edges used for DGS in the Forest of Bowland but Grey Partridge?
        2. Someone even mentioned Yellowhammers.
        3. Isn’t a seven fold increase of Peregrines on Berwyn SPA a triumph? That really shouldn’t have been left unchallenged.
        4. The no Lapwings in Wales claim. Come on that was an own goal!
        5. Wales ‘which in many places is an ornithological desert’. ditto.
        6. ‘on one 5,000-acre estate in north Yorkshire, there are more golden plover than in the whole of Wales.’ Surely not true?
        7. Matt Ridley BTFs
        8. BTO surveys BTFs
        9. After Sandbachs ‘peer-review’ spiel it was an own goal for every non peer-reviewed comment (including her own) from then on but still the anecdotes and BTFs continued unchallenged.
        10. Sandbach’s ridicule of Angela Smith’s evidence on HH figures could easily have been challenged. Something along the lines of ‘does every Robin you see in your garden need to get peer-reviewed before you accept it is there.’
        11. It was great to see Rachael Maskell pick up on the above and wave her peer-reviewed paper imitating Sandbach. I doubt Ruth Tingay’s list of 252 incidences of raptor persecution was actually peer-reviewed but she got the point over that Ruth had published 30 peer-reviewed papers and 24 research papers. One of the highlights of the debate.
        12. ‘why are we not seeing an explosion of Hen Harrier and grouse numbers on the more than 312,000 acres of land managed by the RSPB? That is peer-reviewed scientific evidence?’ Orwellian speak at it’s finest. Wakey wakey, there is no HH explosion because they are getting shot on grouse moors, that is what this petition/debate is about!
        13. (see above) 10% of UK HHs did nested on RSPB land in 2015.
        14. Surely the ‘Hen Harrier Champion’ Angela Smith should have known that all 3 HH pairs this year were OFF grouse moors and that one was on RSPB Geltsdale? I think all 3 Labour MPs mentioned these 3 pairs but none of them mentioned the important fact that none of them were on grouse moors. How could they miss that?
        15. None of the Labour speakers had read Mark’s supplementary written submission which debunked the Berwyn SPA claims. They could have used it.
        16. Those i’ve forgot
        17. and on and on….

        RPUK please don’t post this if you are intending a proper, more thorough, in depth analysis.

  13. I saw your comment to the RSPB Peter and couldn’t agree more. I shall be writing to my MP to thank him for his rude lack of communication despite several emails, letters and a visit (where, apparently, he wasn’t available even tho’ I’d checked beforehand).
    The ‘debate’ was a farce, it was stacked and I was deeply disappointed that more MPs didn’t attend – especially those whose constituency signature counts were high on the petition. The aims of banning DGS were deflected and overtaken by the gamekeepers fan club members … The ignorance of some was highly embarrassing.
    Those who spoke for the petition, I felt, held their corner despite the disparaging interjections and rebuttals. The body language of those speaking against spoke volumes of the disregard in which they held the petitioner and those who’d signed and had communicated their support to their MP.
    I took great exception to the remarks concerning emails and was at this time answering a bloody-minded shooter about ‘keyboard conservationists’. Would they have preferred 123,000 protesters to bring London to a standstill …. ‘cos come hell or high water I shall fight DGS every step of the way ….. and if that’s what it takes …. count me in!

  14. Re RSPB ……. I’m sick of having it thrown back at me that ‘We do other things you know – we don’t just deal with birds’ ……..

    1. Ah but the RSPB has a big job to do, it is after all “giving nature a home”. Goodness where would nature be without it!?

  15. It would be interesting to go through the debate and mark the the grouse lobby scripts as an GCSE level exam paper.
    Redact in red outright lies, yellow for misinterpretation, orange for cherry picking, black for cribbing, grey for cribbing and still getting it wrong (Richard Drax), blue for irrelevant, green for hearsay, purple for insults. Would there be anything left?

  16. I was not surprised that “our day in court” turned out to be a disappointment. We, as a group concerned about wildlife, and its persecution by a revolting element of our society, who class it as a sport, have on our side the great and infinitely enduring position of being in the right. We are humane and ethical in our concern, and the shootmongers and other blood sports fanatics could never adduce anything that would justify their excessively cruel behaviour, as an excuse to have pleasure. Such an attitude that has allowed our countryside to have its wildlife harried and killed, should have disappeared long ago, as freedom to speak and act gained ground. It has been a hard road for those humans who toiled in mines, farms, quarries, shipyards, steel mills etc., with the long hours and low pay, while their “betters” enjoyed the good life. It took those working people centuries to be heard, and if they relaxed for one minute today, the same harsh conditions would return. With the environment and wildlife, we have a similar becalming, as the obdurate and domineering landowning mob obstruct any protest against any change to take place.

    Where was the SNP and the Greens during the debate, after all, Scotland does have one-third of its landscape under the control of shooting estates? Is it not now time to find out who our friends are in the Commons and at Holyrood, and to build a battle plan based on that political influence. We require to show the Scottish/British public the true/real side of what is going on in the countryside. and thereby gain a support based on a better informed public, thus undermining the spurious arguments that have been put forward by the opposition.

    We also must insist on the big guns in the conservation of species world, coming aboard and condemning the shooting of Birds of Prey, Mountain Hares and whatever else is being exterminated. After all, not to give that support, is tantamount to ignoring what is happening on the home front. Birds of Prey are our Elephants. We must lick our wounds and broken heart, and fight on with a new strategy. The whole planet is under severe threat, and the human numbers are growing so fast, that if no solution is found to the human impact, then disaster face us all. Building windmills, solar farms, landscape disfiguring wee dams across the Highlands, fracking are only going to postpone the inevitable day, when the natural world has been irretrievably damaged, and nothing flies, crawls, sings, screams or appears as pretty wild flowers. Just look around the planet and see what the hunters and developers are doing to the environment, in all its forms of forest, desert, wetlands, mountain meadows, rivers and lakes, and the great oceans. Consult Population Matters and read their dire warnings. Just what do our politicians read and watch? Do they not encounter wildlife programmes while trawling through what is mainly mind numbing rubbish on TV. Wildlife programmes have brought the dengers the natural world faces, so we should cash in on that awareness, and get support from that quarter. Do not let the Devil have all the best tunes, for we are on the side of right. There will be more killing of Birds of Prey now that the establishment, bolstered by indifferent others in politics, and there will be more laxity in applying the law by the old boy and girl network that passes as law and order in the countryside.

    1. Mr Hart. There was a single SNP MP present who made 2 interventions, bless him. He is my MP in Dumfries & Galloway and, when I had a phone conversation with him immediately before. He was not sure whether he should be involved because, if the matter proceeded further, he would not be entitled to vote (under the “English matters agreement”). I persuaded him that, since he was my MP, I was entitled to expect him to at least attend for the first hour or so and, if prompted to do so, make some interventions. This he did……..and got a derisory comment from Coffey, at the end! I will continue to work on him and so should other petitioners with THEIR MP.

    2. Mr Hart, Caroline Lucas (Green party co-leader) was present and twice expressed concern with regard to heather burning with her question fended off by the first Tory MP and told rather patronisingly by the second that she was obsessed with climate change ……..

  17. This is just like the FBI and the Clinton plot, governments worldwide are populaced by ‘dickheads’ who could not organise the proverbial in a brewery, and we are sposed to go along with it.

  18. I’m sad to say that it went exactly as I expected it to. Politicians are too arrogant to listen to what they regard as their lessers (i.e. anyone not in a lofty elected position) unless their electoral future is under threat. They do not see themselves as our representatives, but as our overlords.

  19. The average Tory is either not capable of separating personality from debate because it requires some intelligence or they are corrupt to the core. Is their entire mentality is based on loyalty to each other and disregard for everyone else? At the end of the day if you trawl the scientific literature on any subject you will be able to find arguments for or against just about anything. It is simply confirmation bias to cherry pick the bits of evidence that support what you argue and disregard everything else. You’d think that they learn this at Oxford and Eton, in fact I am sure that they do, in which case the rhetoric of the debate is deliberate and calculating which suggests—–corrupt.

  20. A small positive spin-off may be the palpable sense of anger and injustice that now permeates the comments both here and on Mark Avery’s blog.
    I suspect that many people who felt that calling for a ban was rather extreme and that there must be ways of working in partnership with moor owners and gamekeepers may now reconsider their position. It could be that our determination has actually been increased by these events.
    The arrogant and bullying attitudes shown on Monday closely reflect the callousness and thuggishness shown on the ground by those who kill our wildlife – just with more polished accents!
    And as for the role of the RSPB in all this – I would urge everyone who watched the debate to read Jeff Knott’s summary of it here:
    I still can’t get my head round it.

  21. I echo people’s feelings on the ‘debate’ debacle and particularly the lack of engagement from RSPB now and historically on this subject, which is why I cancelled my membership. Compromise and conflict resolution have been tried for decades and shown to be ineffective due to the continuation of widespread criminal behaviour within the game keeping industry. If RSPB became more proactive and stopped trying to play nicely with a bunch of lying wildlife criminals the chance and speed of resolution would increase.

    Martin Harper’s blog is definitely worth a read, was Jeff Knott in the same room as the MP’s? Or just distracted by thinking about what to have for tea or playing Angry Birds? He certainly could not have been listening to the travesty that I witnessed.

    1. Hi Winn. I was (I presume) in the same room. Those initial reactions were an attempt to pull some positives out of the debate. I found it really hard to do so, not least because I’m not as good at synonyms as RPUK!

      Clearly it was not the debate we would have hoped for (to put it mildly), but as others have said here, we should use that to galvanise us on to the next stage.

      And we had to keep our phones away, so I wasn’t playing Angry Birds. Suffice it to say, the frustration in the gallery was at least as great as that expressed here

      1. Please Jeff we are grown-ups. Please write with that honesty on the RSPB blog.
        I would have understood if you had wrote ‘[In] an attempt to pull some positives out of the debate. I found it really hard to do so’ and continued.
        Without that it just came across as delusional and paints a picture of the RSPB as seeing everything through rose-tinted spectacles (pardon the cliché). We need some had core realism if we are to beat the criminals and their defenders.
        I say that as someone who thought your oral presentation was very good.

        1. As I say, it was my own, quick reaction written immediately after the debate and trying to be positive. There will be more to come on Martin’s blog with more considered reaction

        2. I’m afraid I’m with Anand on this one. It’s good that you attended the debate, and it’s very good that you have come here and commented on this blog. However, I can’t help feeling that the RSPB’s overwhelming desire to find positives when dealing with the shooters is one of the things that has got us into this mess in the first place.

  22. A very accurate summary of the proceedings RPUK. The behaviour of certain MPs was a total disgrace. I expect better from elected politicians even if they disagree with a proposal. I hope our Prime Minister is taking note as it reflects very badly on her government.

  23. Two women in this debate deserve credit, Kerry McCarthy, Bristol East and Angela Stone, Penistone & Stocksbridge.

    [Ed: Angela Smith!]

  24. I, too, am thoroughly disgusted by the contempt, the corruption of information and misinformation played out by clever people knitting a thick carpet of wool over the eyes of all.

    A white wash by those that want to keep the status quo.

    Lots of character assassination along with running down the RSPB, seems the only way the speakers can cover up the truth.

    The misinformation from many included Benyon spouting on about wonderful blanket bog that at one stage he was investigated about [Ed: this part deleted as we have no way of knowing if it’s true. If it isn’t, it is defamatory] and also while he was a DEFRA minister, he wanted to cull buzzards.

    It seems that little evidence was put forward to support the ban and an overwhelming one sided heavily biased argument for the continue grouse shooting and archaic method.

    They mostly argued to see “robust” enforcement of the law against those that break it.

    A. Sandbach’s comment about the over 300,000 acres of land RSPB and no hen harriers?

    Mr Walker proved to be a real Charley talking about the number of elephants falling on acres of ground and many other irrelevant facts? No doubt he thought he was being clever, doh! But he obviously didn’t know about the elephant powder!

    Sadly the outcome was predictable within the first 30 minutes. Dr Coffey just put the last nail in the coffin for this parliament.

    Why do people vote for these people?

    I am sending a copy of this contribution to my MP who did not attend the debate. With this note.
    Hi John,

    I have not received any correspondence from you regarding the petition to ban driven grouse shooting and I have sent 7 emails about it. You did not speak in it and probably didn’t attend.

    I am disgusted by the debate, the manner in which it was run and the outcome. It was the whitewash I expected and the bias against the ban was not contested, why? 123,000 people cannot be wrong but the filthy rich have got away with it again and no doubt the raptor persecution will continue, with few if any brought to justice.

    The debate was overwhelmingly one sided from the beginning. Within 30 minutes the outcome was clear.

    Much wrong, distorted, outright lies and contempt was spoken along with character assassinations.

    ROBUST a much used word, is a favoured word in politics but it means much less than I think it should. Fancy talk with little meaning.

    The environment got nothing out of the debate. Pollution, excessive rainwater runoff (because blanket bog is destroyed to grow more heather for more grouse), lead pollution (2000 tonnes per year was quoted just for grouse shooting), flooding, degradation of the environment by aiming for an agricultural monoculture.

    The excessive funding to the rich owners with subsidies for their business that only helps them to make bigger profits. Why do we subsidise these activities, it is not farming, it produces very few jobs but costs us dearly? I’ll bet, that profits avoid tax too.

    Some even supported the “organic nature” of the grouse meat, this is simply not true. The birds are medicated in a number of ways with medicated grit and worming medication and others chemical compounds, some of which are not approved for animal use.



    1. Nicely put Doug. I wrote to my SNP MSP who also did not attend. He did respond to my email to say he wasn’t able to attend and then proceeded with with the usual rhetoric about the ROBUST measures that the Scotttish Government already has in place to protect raptors….

    2. My MP John Pugh replied with the usual placatory remarks:
      Apologies for the lack of reply, I was sure I had responded to you initial email asking me to attend the debate. This is the reply you should have received.

      The Liberal Democrats share the strong concerns raised by some regarding the decline in the UK population of wild hen harriers. As we know, hen harriers are a protected species and so far in 2016 the RSPB says there have been around only three nesting attempts. It is therefore crucial that everything is done to protect these birds.

      Under provisions in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, killing a hen harrier constitutes a wildlife crime. Despite this, the illegal killing of wild birds of prey continues. The Lib Dems are therefore glad that the National Wildlife Crime Unit, a specialist unit dedicated to tackling all wildlife crime, regards raptor predation as one of its top priorities. Thanks to Liberal Democrat pressure last year, the Government agreed to continue funding this Unit’s work for the next four years.

      I am therefore pleased that a Westminster Hall debate has been secured on this matter. Unfortunately I may not be able to attend the debate due to my role on the Public Accounts Committee. This committee scrutinises the value for money of public spending and holds the Government and its Civil Servants accountable for the delivery of public services and is therefore a commitment which is very important.

      I will also continue to press for animal’s rights as I have throughout my parliamentary career on issues such as banning fox hunting, ending the use of wild animals in circuses and protecting our bees.

      The debate was well attended and many Members raised concerns about the number of other wildlife, including hen harriers, are adversely affected by the practice of grouse shooting. Indeed the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Therese Coffey did say that the Government takes the illegal prosecution of raptors very seriously and highlighted it as one of six wildlife crime priorities for the UK. This is very welcome.

      However, she finished her speech by saying that “the Government have no intention of banning driven grouse shooting, but we have every intention of bringing to justice those who break the law”. Like you I find this deeply disappointing and I will continue to challenge the Government on the issue of banning driven grouse shooting.

      Many thanks and best wishes,


      Nothing useful there.


  25. Eloquently put and rightfully angry. What’s next (other than going into the hills and taking their grouse since they are taking our wildlife)? Sorry – immature, but I’m livid!

    1. That’s just the point. They’re not THEIR grouse – no more than they are yours or mine. I’ve just watched an item on Youtube purporting to show the true grouse shooting story. When discussing predator control, the only wildlife in view was a Hen Harrier flying past! Say no more!

  26. The “debate” reinforced the public’s view that MP’s, and by default, the machinery in Westminster, simply reflects the will of the rich and powerful. This is an aspect similar to Labour’s fall from grace in Scotland, as they, too, failed to represent and promote the views of those who elected them. As such, though extremely annoying in the short term, might be no bad thing in the long run as it has put the whole issue in the public eye and is pushing at a door that is already slightly ajar. Only time will tell, but in the meanwhile I think I’ll simply keep agitating for any changes in law which might help address and confront the criminal culture which has been active in our Highlands for many years.

  27. There was even a mention of “cool burning” of heather.

    Is this mythical countryside magic?

    Nope, it is yet another load of cods wallop to justify poor practice.


  28. A not unexpected outcome, but the nasty way they went about it, the personal attacks on Mark, Chris, and on Lacs, and the attempt to demean and belittle the voters that took the time to sign this petition, and contact their MP’s was disgraceful.

    I too am disappointed that the SNP did not bother to speak ? If this is party policy, then, as a member of the party, I want an explanation.

    We are all going to have to start crawling all over ‘their’ moors, in pairs for corroboration, armed with video camera’s. Gamekeepers have driven several species to extinction before, and are intent on doing that again, for their masters. It is time the slaughter stopped.

    1. As far as I am aware, Scottish MPs of whatever party are not in London on a Monday. Richard Arkless made it, which is good, but he left before the end probably because he couldn’t take any more. It was bad enough for us to watch on a screen but imagine what it was like having to sit in that room listening to one utterly thick, patronising Tory after another. They came across to me as complete fools from a bygone era.

      1. I had thought that since we Scots were allowed to vote in the petition, and because we are perhaps disproportionally afflicted by shooting estates and their crimes, our MP’s would have been allowed to speak? If this was a ‘devolved’ matter, then I apologise for my remarks above. But considering the number of non resident owners of Scottish estates, I find that just plain odd.

        I was also unaware that snp didn’t do mondays in westminster? would have hoped that more might have made the effort.

        More of ‘better together’ ( only when it suits them ) I suppose?

        1. Scottish Hen Harriers being killed in England is not a Scottish issue?
          The SNP will have to do a lot to re-gain my vote on this.
          There were three SNP MPs who asked questions, Richard Arkless (twice), Dr Lisa Cameron (once) and Margaret Ferrier (Coffey snubbed her).

          1. Anand..the SNP do not appear to have any clear policy on the real overarching issue – Upland Land Use. or more correctly how to change Upland Land Use. The nearest they get is in helping community buy outs but then they dont seem to have any plan for directing how the land is used on any large scale, which is what is necessary to get our countryside back into “good heart” – such as rewilding of whole glens and river catchments. As long as they keep the likes of Fergus Ewing [Minister for fracking and gamekeepers?] in the cabinet they will continue to lose votes to the Greens. We all need to make this a voting issue. Im impressed by their new intake of MSPs, such as Mhairi Black, with their obvious dedication on social justice – but we need to get them to understand environmental justice.

  29. Onwards and upwards. The torys who were very keen on telling untruths were absolutely adamant that no public money went to support grouse shooting. So the stuff that somehow slips through needs to be stopped… follow the money has been said before and it probably should be repeated again and again. obviously there are the misused agricultural grants… bending the tax system? what other sources are they draining?.

  30. How many twitchers turn up to see a really rare bird in the UK 1000’s??? How many will turn up to see and protect the very last Hen Harrier breeding in Britain I wonder…or do very little or next to nothing to protect it…. thousands of pounds for another “tick”…we are in the depths environmental carnage world wide and yet tradition dictates for some we must kill. here in Britain. After watching the so called debate today I feel that we are still not making a strong enough point as tax payers to those that abuse our wildlife for dare I say it (Fun/profit)…bragging rights was mentioned today… well I would like to see the killing journals of any game keepers around here over the past few years…Argyll is a black spot for many birds of prey/animals and the culprids continue their killing obsession of anything an opportunist killer comes across in the pretense of the hunting the bad old fox up the glen, that’s taking yet more lambs…this activity along with roadside deer scavenging takes place on an every day basis and again most nights…OBSESSION £££’s can lead to the extinction of some species locally. Count the Land Rovers with lamps in your area…these guys are shooting from the road illegally especially near public property and many protected animals will fall to these “lampers”…anything between the eyes is fair game to these guys….this is what we do and are getting away with it. daily. Usual response is “prove it” or look at the damage it was doing…where are all these wildlife organisations??? other than watching slide shows and talks keeping a low profile not wanting to annoy the so called gentry. Do your bit for wildlife and stand up. Fancy titles mean sod all to these guys, killing goes on. and you will be counting just what’s left that’s all. Full marks to Mull and a few more making lots of money protecting their wildlife. Here only 6 miles away should be exactly the same in species and numbers ….why not??? Locally WE all know the answer to that one.

    Now consider the environmental clap trap talked by the sporting suits in the debate and within the first five minutes the tone was set…just get this out of the way and don’t bother us attitude of most except some of the females….but it should be pointed out its our wildlife and habitat they are affecting for many generations to come. The wild life of Scotland will eventually be all they have to rely on shortly as a means of income, all else is fading away rapidly…it time to man up and confront these estates with their outdated traditions purely for gain (grants included) who needs them?
    Not Joe public or the folk at a soup kitchen that could live on one days grouse shooting for a year. Wake up SNP and others, do your bit for wildlife, stop looking after wealthy sporting land owners and think of what the the man in the street has left over in his weekly pay packet….how much to shoot a brace of grouse??? Tips not included of course. Please forgive the rantings of an old but experienced naturalist who happens to think my generation has seen and enjoyed the very best the British countryside had to offer …without doing any harm what so ever to wildlife in any way…..I wonder if the next generation will be able to say the same???
    Bill Jackson (76)

      1. Ditto.
        And thanks for this, i had no idea.
        ‘Here only 6 miles away [from Mull] should be exactly the same in species and numbers ….why not??? Locally WE all know the answer to that one.’

    1. I watched the Westminster debate in its entirety and was very disappointed to note that the pro-raptor side failed to muster sufficient MPs to address all the issues in a concerted manner. That would have been impressive…but it did NOT happen.

      I disgree with Bill Jackson that our generation of naturalists may have enjoyed the very best that the British countryside has to offer. There are many ongoing wildlife conservation initiatives which are yielding impressive results….both in the UK and internationally. BUT concerned people need to remain ever vigilant and engaged in the face of constant demands for “development” of semi-natural habitats.

    2. For the record I do twitch birds. I obtained 2000 leaflets to promote the petition and delivered them. Most times I went birding or on a twitch I raised awareness of the petition. I wrote to my MP regarding the petition on more than 1 occasion. I had intended to attend the debate in person but I wasn’t well on the day but listened to it from home. I would not normally be writing this but please do not assume twitchers do nothing other than twitch. Twitchers do bird surveys, are county recorders, work for BTO, RSPB, etc and no doubt I was not the only twitcher who did something to help the hen harrier

  31. Wonder what they’d do if those 120,000 occupied the butts on the next “glorious 12th”. Looks like taking action is the only way anything is going to happen

    1. That would be a challenge. But as I see access is denied when the moors are turned into the UK version of KILLING FIELDS.

  32. There was nothing to stop any SNP MPs speaking in the debate, whether or not they could eventually vote on any forthcoming Bill. The problem is none of them knew or cared enough to make a meaningful contribution (and such interventions as they did make were not much more than virtue signalling).

    The attitude of the SNP is critical in all of this as they will determine whether Scotland introduces a licensing system for shooting estates. Maybe the reluctance of their MPs to put their heads above the parapet at Westminster indicates that the Party Line has not yet been decided, or maybe it has been decided and it’s to retain the status quo.

    On a positive note, it was clear from the number of Tories who turned out to speak on behalf of the shooting industry that they are seriously rattled.

  33. Hi,

    I have had time to read some of the debate; re ecology “The Tories” largely focused on the wader assemblage which the record re corvid control is that keepering is useful. Re the opposition I suggest that Kerry McCarthy made a useful contribution but that Caroline Lucas was not well briefed otherwise it was a Tory “back slapping” exercise. At no point did anyone note that Hen Harrier are virtually extinct in England, that eagle distribution in Scotland is the inverse of keepered moors or the record re the evident widespread abuse of the wildlife law by keepers.

    There was little focus on the extent of public subsidy and its return re “grouse moors”. Can I suggest some focus on land rights history by this campaign would be useful.

    If Mark Avery were amenable would he stand for Parliament ? he would be useful to the Labour team in the Commons…? The debate was poor really and he would add to it. the record of informed “green” observers across the board on ecology, climate change, planning etc etc being appointed to the Lords is also lamentable leading to poor level debates, as this was…..any thoughts ?

  34. Sounds about right, when did this government show any interest in the people, they are only interested in them- self’s.

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