Bizarre news item in Shooting Times re: Les Wallace’s grouse petition

Shooting Times is always good for a laugh but the latest edition (30 Jan 2019) is particularly entertaining.

It starts with Patrick Galbraith’s editorial where he discusses the “few rogues” (ahem) causing problems for the shooting industry and emphasises the importance of ‘communicating the truth and demanding high standards’.

Sadly, three of the six news articles that follow Patrick’s editorial can only be described as distorting the truth and meeting low standards.

We’re going to blog about each of those three news items separately, starting with this one:

The author of this news item is not identified but whoever wrote it seems to be a little bit confused.

The author argues that the petition isn’t “independent”. Eh? The petitoner (Les) isn’t claiming to be independent, but is calling for an independent study on grouse shooting economics. It’s not difficult to understand, is it?

The author then claims that Les “writes for Raptor Persecution Scotland”. Hmm. Two things here – the blog hasn’t been called ‘Raptor Persecution Scotland’ for, ooh, about five years (?) now, do keep up Shooting Times, and although several authors write this blog, Les isn’t one of them, unless you count his recent guest blog (written about his petition). The Shooting Times article implies Les writes regularly for the blog, which is a distortion of the truth. The clue is in the word ‘guest’ blog.

The author then discusses an estimate of the value of grouse shooting, using a figure from BASC. Er, BASC cannot possibly be defined as being independent, which kind of reinforces the importance of Les’s call for an independent study!

The article ends with a quote from Andrew Gilruth, who can always be relied upon for a bit of snidey spin, but he does appear to be supportive of Les’s petition. Funny, we didn’t see GWCT pushing its members to sign the petition in the six months since it was launched.

All in all, a confused distorted mess from Shooting Times.

By the way, Les’s petition ends tomorrow. He has already secured the 10,000 signatures required to trigger a response from DEFRA (which will be interesting) but if you want to support it, here’s your last chance. Please click HERE

24 thoughts on “Bizarre news item in Shooting Times re: Les Wallace’s grouse petition”

  1. “A few rogues”.

    Interesting choice of language. Not only is the “few” highly contentious but I would suggest that “rogue” is carefully chosen to downplay the seriousness of the crime. We are all familiar with terms such as “a bit of a rogue”, “a lovable rogue” etc and the term has come to be associated with people who may take the odd short cut with the rules but whose misdemeanours don’t really cause anyone any harm and somehow add to the fellow’s charm. You don’t hear the term used to describe really nasty criminals who commit serious crimes. In truth the people who are poisoning and shooting raptors are cynical thugs who understand perfectly well that what they are doing is illegal and don’t care.

    1. This reference reminded me of the days when my early employment involved engagement with (though not participating in) grouse shooting. I was not a Scottish Nationalist but have always been a Scottish Naturalist, and even in those days was aware that a disproportionate sector of the grouse shooting set were upper class Englishmen exploiting our countryside and mismanaging our precious heather moorlands. They were not alone in the abuse of our upland landscapes and wildlife, but I found their actions among the most insidious and least welcome. Jonathan Wallace’s comments reminded me of how I felt in those early days, when at school I learned the following poem by Robert Burns. I stress that I do not have any discriminate feelings about “ordinary” English people who do not exploit Scotland and its riches, natural or otherwise.


      FAREWEEL to a’ our Scottish fame,
      Fareweel our ancient glory;
      Fareweel even to the Scottish name,
      Sae fam’d in martial story!
      Now Sark rins o’er Solway sands,
      And Tweed rins to the ocean,
      To mark whare England’s province stands,
      Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

      What force or guile could not subdue,
      Thro’ many warlike ages,
      Is wrought now by a coward few,
      For hireling traitors’ wages.
      The English steel we could disdain,
      Secure in valor’s station;
      But English gold has been our bane,
      Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

      O would, or I had seen the day
      That Treason thus could sell us,
      My auld grey head had lien in clay,
      Wi’ BRUCE and loyal WALLACE!
      But pith and power, till my last hour,
      I’ll mak this declaration;
      We’re bought and sold for English gold,
      Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

      Robert Bruce”

  2. “the blog hasn’t been called ‘Raptor Persecution Scotland’ for, ooh, about five years (?) now, do keep up Shooting Times”

    Well we are still waiting for the average shooter to get out the 19thC so a mere five years in nothing to them.

  3. I hate to stereotype people but articles like this make it hard to resist the idea that many of the cheerleaders for grouse shooting are, well, a bit dim or if not dim exactly so blinkered that they read want they want to read not what’s actually written. The petition clearly asks for an independent enquiry into the financial benefits of grouse shooting but nowhere does it suggest or nominate who should sit on such an enquiry.

  4. Why, when they repeat this claim of ‘a few bad apples’ or ‘rogue’ do the media never challenge them on their source for such a claim? I know the shooting times are a propaganda rag who would be laughed at if they claimed to be unbiased but so called respectable news outlets, including the one we pay for, never question this claim. They don’t have to argue with it just ask them to back it up with science.
    I guess eventually they will get a grilling from a decent journalist but not it seems any time soon. The most likely scenario would be a panel with Chris Packham, the presenter someone like Fiona Bruce and the rest of the panel were the Gilruth, Baynes and Hogg. Even then Chris would maul them intellectually. Andrew Neil may be extremely biased politically but, unless he has shooting interests, he might be someone to take them to task.
    Eventually all this crap they spout will be their own undoing and the great thing is they don’t even realise it.
    Just give them more rope.

  5. My gosh, how supremely arrogant and how out of touch with the feeling now existing nation wide, regarding their horrible ‘sport’.

  6. didn’t the basc study which they refer to here involve advice on collecting data on investment along the lines of “if you don’t know what you spent then make something up”?
    which is largely why this one is required now.
    did their study indicate how much of the contribution which they hadn’t simply made up because they didn’t have any data was made up of subsidy, which once we leave the EU there will obviously be no grounds for continued payment.
    though one could raise grounds for a generous subsidy system, of which the percentage received was a direct function of the percentage of raptor territories occupied

  7. Makes £100 million for the economy, as I recall when this claim was originally challenged not only was it shown to be back of fag packet guess work it includes government subsidy which makes up about 50% of the total. An independent review is entirely justified on that basis alone, are we the tax paying public getting benefit from this? I personally rather doubt it. Then the 2500 full time jobs, Given what we know in large part due to this very blog about how widespread a routine persecution is within grouse shooting, many if not quite all of those job holders are almost certainly wildlife criminals, indeed some would say an organised cabal of criminality. I cannot remember the time when any other sort of criminal fraternity described what they do as a job. it implies a degree of legitimacy surely. My own idea of a question time type panel as suggested above would be three from Chris Packham, Ruth Tingay, Mark Avery, NERF chair Steve Downing, and Guy Shorrock vs any three their lobby choose to name. I’d certainly watch it.

  8. Personally I would like to see the a breakdown of the “Estimated £100 million to the economy each year” and the purported 2,500 full time jobs that this “Industry” supports!

  9. So glad you’ve disintegrated this article which is pure spin (& poor at that) which their readers will sadly carry on believing. For them, it hides the uncomfortable truth; they’re killing wildlife for fun in unfair competition ( Hence the pathetic attempts to dress it up as ‘sport’.
    Banging on about moorland management costs, needs to be assessed in the light of CAP payments and stewardship money made to the landowners. And whose money is that?

  10. This is hilarious! I think I’ll have to send The Shooting Times a dictionary to help them understand what ‘independent’ means, ‘truth’, ‘sanity’ and ‘logic’ should also be useful to them. At the very beginning I approached that particular rag and told them if they genuinely believed that driven grouse shooting is vital for rural communities they should promote the petition as best they can. This I believe is their first mention of it. Andrew desperately trying to move the goalposts I see, back to highly contentious and rather subjective issue of ‘naturalness’ re grouse moors away from their role in seriously impoverishing rural communities and in ensuring we live in a seriously diminished country with extra flood risk and no proper National Parks. Thanks to RPUK and its friends for your help in getting to the 10,000 target without the support of many big bodies that should have helped. Much appreciated it was close run! Looks as if they’re starting to squirm and it’s only going to get worse.

    1. Yup, the petition has already proved its worth. This is the first sign.
      Would have commented earlier but was too busy laughing:)

    2. GO ON Les !!! you’ve wound them up pal !!! so chuffed that, even though it took so long, thanks to little help from some big names,who I wont mention, you got the signatures you needed, now,will government go ahead and do something ??? Ms May was kind enough to give these archaic plonkers even more money,what a saving that could be made if the facts, which we all know, are at long last proven !!! lets put an end to the barbaric “sport” these poor souls stuck in the 18th centuary enjoy soooo much !!!

      1. Thanks Diane, they’re trapped. IF the response is a study then it will have to be watertight, anything less and it will be torn to pieces. The League Against Cruel Sports in the past did some excellent work scrutinising the reports the shooting sector put forward to justify itself economically and believe the vernacular term for what LACS did is ‘absolutely rip the piss out of them ‘. I can’t see the govt risking that. We can help ensure in the early stages that they don’t ‘forget’ to take into consideration something like the value of upland natural flood alleviation work, which potentially could save millions and millions of pounds in flood damage to lower level farms, businesses and better quality farmland, plus of course avoidance of a great deal of human misery. This is an incredibly positive thing ecologically, environmentally and economically, but progress beyond experimental scheme after experimental scheme is limited. Anything to do with certain vested interests not wanting trees and even beavers on part of their land?

        IF they come up with some waffle to deny the need for a study then that means petition 2 later in the year. This time with the insight, experience and contacts gained it won’t take 25 weeks to get to 10,000 signatures! That will provide an opportunity to take the issue more into the public realm, e.g publicly ask the MA, GWCT etc to support the petition if they really believe DGS is vital for rural communities. You are absolutely right that some big names helped as well as lots of individuals who really got behind the petition. I’m incredibly grateful to all of them. There were, however, several big organisations that didn’t help and should have and if there’s another petition they’ll need to or provide answers why not. The Avery’s, Packhams and Tingays are having to do too much because others are doing too little.

        1. It won’t be long before someone puts a financial value on biodiversity richness on grouse moors. When i was a kid we used to go quite often to Hutton-le-hole, Haworth etc. As kids we loved it but now when i visit i just see a desert. How much better it would have been if instead of barren moorland there had been a mosaic of habitats.
          Last week there was a report showing links between clean air in childhood and mental illness

          and today gut flora on mental health.

          I hate that everything has to be given a financial value but it seems to be the only thing that politicians understand. There is no doubt in my mind that rich habitats lift the spirits and that in turn has health benefits. Grouse moors are just plain depressing.

          1. I was in Haworth years ago to do the Bronte thing. I also visited Brimham Rocks and Fountains Abbey. It’s only years later looking back that I realise we visited a few lovely spots amongst a pretty vast area of blandness, much of which was grouse moor. It’s totally charmless and if these grouse moors are the wildlife havens we keep getting told they are we’d be drawn by experience to keep going back to them, I found them shite to be on years before I found out I’d been on grouse moors as at Ilkley Moor and the Forest of Bowland. It’s only now at the age of 51 that it’s fully sinking in how much we live in a culturally diminished land because everything and everybody apart from grouse shooting and grouse shooters have been seriously compromised and marginalised in many parts of the country where the best opportunities to have something beyond industrial and agricultural production have been denied to us. It saddens, horrifies and infuriates me in equal measure.

    1. Well done Les, how honest of you to speak the truth, unlike BASC and their fellow “Parcel of Rogues,” and how dare you demand honest debate and a truly independent scientific study!

  11. I’m looking forward to the required response of the government, likely to be given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.Therese Coffey is known for her one word responses to difficult questions but I do not see how that could be used in this case. The most likely response may well include unfounded claims from the supporters of the organised criminal behaviour prevalent in driven grouse shooting.
    The help of RPUK and Mark Avery was instrumental in reaching 10,000 signatures. This has resulted in the article being felt necessary.
    We cannot expect Les’s petition to change the mindset of this government, but it does clearly draw the ire of those who are at least prepared to admit that there are some loveable rogues involved in grouse shooting,
    Well done to all involved, and a boo hiss to those who were not.

  12. I’ve recently received a response from ‘the Government,’ informing me that Les’s petition has been rejected. It provides a shockingly dishonest pack of lies which appear to have been written by GWCT or some other such ‘learned’ body (i.e. who have ‘learned’ how to distort the truth with considerable expertise). I must say I’m surprised at the apparent lack of a response in the RPUK blog, or am I ‘jumping the gun’ so to speak, or missed something? Hopefully someone is currently working on it, and I look forward to the anger, criticism and further debate which the Government’s decision must surely have generated.

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