Who voted for & against a temporary ban on muirburn?

Andy Wightman’s success at getting ‘Amendment 53’ approved in the Scottish Parliament last night, leading to the immediate (but temporary) ban on muirburn across Scotland (see here), has caused some within the grouse shooting world to, how shall we call it, lose their shit.

The vitriol and personal abuse being aimed at Andy on social media is really quite telling and if ever you wanted to see examples of how the mask can slip on people who have previously purported to be ‘voices of reason’ then you need look no further. Then there are the ones who are so out of control they’ve never even tried to appear reasonable and whose tirades of hatred continue without pause for rational thought (or to consider the potential for having their firearms and shotgun certificates removed).

[Muriburn, photo by Ruth Tingay]

For the more sensible, here is a copy of the transcript relating to Andy’s proposed amendment, the ‘debate’ it generated (a bit of ignorance and abuse from Murdo Fraser MSP & a bit of informed support from Michael Russell MSP) and the subsequent vote: amendment 53_debate and vote

Amendment 53 was passed 59 votes to 17.

It’s interesting and almost entirely predictable (with one small surprise – [Ed: please now see update at foot of blog]) to see who voted for and against:

UPDATE 3rd April 2020: Please read the comments section on this blog. A blog reader contacted Shirley-Anne Somerville’s office about this vote and received the following in return:

Response from Shirley-Anne Somerville’s Office Manager:
Hi Greg

Thank you getting in touch with Shirley-Anne, she has asked me to reply on her behalf.

Shirley-Anne fully supports Amendment 53, in line with the rest of her Scottish Government and SNP colleagues. There appears to be some confusion about the voting, the official record on the Scottish Parliament website indicated to me that Shirley-Anne did in fact vote for the amendment. I have attached a screenshot of the voting record search I performed a short time ago.

Should, when the official reports be published and there has been any kind of error of sorts, Shirley-Anne would only have voted against this amendment purely by mistake and accidentally pushed the wrong voting button.

I hope this helps to clarify things, should you have any other matter you wish to raise, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards

Cameron

Cameron Crawford

Office Manager

Shirley-Anne Somerville

MSP for Dunfermline

ENDS

 

31 thoughts on “Who voted for & against a temporary ban on muirburn?”

  1. What a surprise its all tories voting against a proposal that is good for the environment and peoples health. They really are a nasty self serving bunch.

    1. One SNP MSP voted against – and she is a member of both RSPB and SWT, according to her entry on Scot Gov’s website – incredible.

      1. On Twitter, someone asked Andy Wightman about Shirley-Anne Somerville’s vote against amendment 53. Andy’s response:

        “Not spoken to her but most probably a mistake. She is a Government Minister and would always vote with Government. Backbenchers can rebel (though seldom do)”.

      2. There’s nothing on S-A S’s twitter page this morning. Obviously she’s busy with Corona issues, but a one-liner would be appropriate. Perhaps she fears a reaction?

  2. What’s even more interesting, tories voting against what was already a common sense (voluntary) cessation proposed by Scottish Land and Estates; and even more interesting, against the current edicts to stay at home as we collectively try to combat the virus.

    Surely there’s the beginnings here of support for an outright ban on the Victorian era practices of destroying our ecosystems and fuelling climate change in the interests of a few rich and powerful landowners who consider killing to be a “sport” ?

    1. “Surely there’s the beginnings here of support for an outright ban on the Victorian era practices of destroying our ecosystems…”

      Which may explain why there has been such fierce opposition to AW’s amendment 53 within the huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ brigade. They may see a temporary cessation of muirburn as the thin end of a wedge that will eventually lead to the end of their amusements in the hills.

      I would stress that I am NOT speaking in support of the people voting or arguing against the ban, merely trying to understand why they would raise such belligerent opposition to a measure that is simple common sense at a time when the emergency services are already stretched and which has already been proposed on a voluntary basis by Scottish Land and Estates.

      Thin end of the wedge or not these people are doing themselves no favours as the public is likely to draw its own conclusions when it sees people who insist on pursuing their own interests to the detriment of the rest of society at a time of national crisis.

  3. The reaction that you describe is, as you no doubt expected, entirely as expected.
    To these arrogant people any law is only a law if it is the law that they want. Otherwise it is to be treated like an inconvenience that can be ignored.
    Having got away with criminal killing of wildlife for many, many years they have evolved into people with an expectation that can do as they see fit and everyone else will just have to put up with that.
    Think again, chisellers.

    1. I am sure the grouse supporting apologists will have seen the strength of political feeling towards the ills of their hobby and is why we are seeing such a furious backlash. This will not play well for them as their industry reps continue to try and persuade the SG that self regulation, self restraint and more training is the way ahead.

  4. think that the SNP MP is my MP. Letter writing this evening obviously. Most annoying. Tory MPs have little interest in my interests but I have higher expectations of SNP MSPs.

  5. Doesn’t give us much hope down here does it. But what a telling list. Shame it can’t be published in the nationals.
    Well done Andy.

  6. A telling list and a fine example if further were needed as to why real conservationists and environmentalists should never vote Tory in any of the constituent countries of this little Kingdom.

  7. Andy – my hero! But WHY is muirburn EVER allowed? esp when we MUST reduce carbon emissions?

    1. Farmers were banned from stubble burning for a whole host of reasons, I see no difference why #muirburn should be treated any differently.

  8. I wonder if the voters against realise quite how stupid they have made themselves look. Even to their own supporters, they have to be seen as voting to support the atrocious behaviour of those owners/tenants/keepers who have defied calls to stop risking the emergency services being sidetracked from their work on the pandemic. How responsible is that? Blindly supporting the party, rather than the issue, certainly hasn’t worked for them this time. Another nail!

  9. I e-mailed Shirley-Anne Somerville (my MSP) as soon as I saw this earlier today. I hope (as Andy Wightman suggests) that it WAS a mistake (hitting the wrong button in the electronic vote). If I get a reply I’ll post her response here.

  10. I note that “my” MSP Fergus Ewing abstained. There’s plenty of other things I can hold against him though.

    1. I think the reports said that a reduced number of MSPs were present in the chamber for this legislation so that social distancing could be maintained. So I’d expect Fergus Ewing was one of those absent by agreement.

  11. Response from Shirley-Anne Somerville’s Office Manager:
    Hi Greg

    Thank you getting in touch with Shirley-Anne, she has asked me to reply on her behalf.

    Shirley-Anne fully supports Amendment 53, in line with the rest of her Scottish Government and SNP colleagues. There appears to be some confusion about the voting, the official record on the Scottish Parliament website indicated to me that Shirley-Anne did in fact vote for the amendment. I have attached a screenshot of the voting record search I performed a short time ago.

    Should, when the official reports be published and there has been any kind of error of sorts, Shirley-Anne would only have voted against this amendment purely by mistake and accidentally pushed the wrong voting button.

    I hope this helps to clarify things, should you have any other matter you wish to raise, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

    Kind regards

    Cameron

    Cameron Crawford

    Office Manager

    Shirley-Anne Somerville

    MSP for Dunfermline

    1. This sounds right – I saw SAS speak at a hustings years ago and noticed with alarm that when she raised a very intelligent and well informed question about the funding for the Edinburgh Tram system the other ‘panellists’ dealt with it by pretending she hadn’t said anything. I was very impressed with her, not with them. I would be extremely surprised if she in anyway thinks grouse moors are a good thing for Scotland, she’s very intelligent.

  12. Well done Andy and all who did it for the right reasons. I wonder what makes a Tory a Tory perhaps another four letter word. Am sorry to say this but do you think the muirburning will stop and where will be the places to ignore it. Angus Glens, Leadhills …?

  13. I wonder if you could put up an addendum to correct the original post? I’ve seen the screenshot of the voting record as referred to by Cameron Crawford but can’t copy/paste it here.

  14. I wrote a polite letter of protest to Murdo Fraser, and he has replied to me:

    Dear Keith,

    Thank you for your message in relation to muirburn.

    The point I made in Parliament on Wednesday in Parliament, in the context of Andy Wightman’s Amendment, was that it is inappropriate in the context of an emergency Bill. The muirburn season comes to an end on April the 15th, and it is likely that the Bill will not be enacted by that date, and therefore a legal ban seems to achieve no purpose. In any event, Scottish Land and Estates have already recommended to their members that all muirburn activities cease, and I am not aware of any evidence that muirburn is continuing.

    The measure by Andy Wightman seems to be motivated by prejudice against country estate owners, a prejudice which, unfortunately, you appear to support. I am not a shooter myself, but I know that shooters come from a wide range of social backgrounds and they are not the caricature that you suggest. Moreover, in the area I represent, country sports support a high level of employment and economic activity in remote and rural areas. It would be very unfortunate if these jobs were to be lost due to wilful prejudice and ignorance.

    Thank you for taking the time to write.

    With kind regards,

    Murdo

    Murdo Fraser MSP

    1. So he is perpetuating the lie that shooting pheasants, partridge or grouse make significant contributions to local economies, taking all the revenues and none of the costs (environmental and financial). I get the same bland nonsense from my local MP. Shooting wildlife generates very little revenue compared to clay / skeet and target shooting but they morph all revenues into one and ignore all costs.

  15. I’ve always felt one of the watershed moments in ending driven grouse shooting will be when a Tory politician publicly states they don’t support it. As Shirley Anne Somerville didn’t actually vote against Andy’s amendment that means not a single tory voted for it and only Tories voted against it, then that’s clearly not here yet. But with this the Tories are marginalising themselves politically and what good will this do them in the public eye? It’s like continuing to support fox hunting because a few influential people are obsessed by it, but everyone else doesn’t care or hates it. How long do the Scottish Tories think this will be a tenable position exactly? They haven’t done themselves any favours with this and as soon as they realise that it won’t be good for the grouse moors. This vote is certainly noteworthy enough to justify some press coverage and it would hardly flatter the Tories.

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