The scandal that is driven grouse shooting continues to feature prominently in the Scottish media as pressure continues to mount on the Scottish Government to respond to the Werritty Review on grouse moor licensing, a report that was submitted to the Government almost a year to the day (18 November 2019).
Last week The National ran an article on the 25 regional SNP branches who had submitted a motion for debate at the national conference calling for an end to driven grouse shooting in Scotland (see here).
The motion was proposed by councillor Julie Bell of Kirriemuir and Dean (Angus) and seconded by Ruth Maguire MSP. The resulting personal abuse hurled at them on social media from those with a vested interest in maintaining grouse shooting won’t have gone unnoticed by Julie, Ruth or their party colleagues and probably beyond.
Meanwhile, the motion appears to have been watered down considerably, despite being ‘the most backed resolution this year’, and as a result, Ruth Maguire MSP has lodged an amendment. The National ran an article on this yesterday, as follows:
THE SNP leadership faces a grassroots rebellion at this year’s conference over plans to end grouse shooting in Scotland.
The prospect of a vote on the subject has upset the Scottish Gamekeeper’s Association, who warn that the party risk alienating the countryside.
An initial motion to conference calling for an end to “unsustainable practices on grouse moors including the snaring, trapping and killing of hundreds of thousands of animals, muirburn and mass outdoor medication” was popular with members, being the most backed resolution put forward.
However, it was missing from the conference agenda. Instead there was another resolution which called for Scottish Government to continue its work “on regulating sporting estates in order to protect our biodiversity, native species and peatlands.”
MSP Ruth Maguire said this didn’t go far enough. Backed by her Holyrood colleague Christine Graham and a number of branches, she’s now submitted an amendment which urges the party to back the licensing of all shooting estates, and “move away from driven grouse shooting towards more sustainable and diverse land uses”.
Maguire said: “The original motion submitted to conference appears to be the most backed resolution this year showing the strength of support within the party for tackling Scotland’s grouse moors.
“For the huge swathes of Scotland they use up, driven grouse moors are one of the most destructive land uses in Scotland for our wildlife and environment, offering little economic benefit compared to other land uses.
“As recent polling shows almost three quarters of Scots are against grouse shooting and the SNP membership want the chance to put the party on the forefront of public opinion. This amendment, like the original motion, seeks to end the unsustainable practices of grouse shooting and in line with land reform, make our land work better for our people, our wildlife and the environment.”
Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: “The SNP, down the years, has enjoyed strong levels of support within working gamekeepers, their families and extended groups in rural constituencies.
“These are ordinary, hard-working individuals and families who vote for people and parties they feel will represent the interests of their communities.
“Recent policy decisions have left them alienated. Land working people, just now, are angry.
“They feel the Scottish Government is no longer listening or supporting them, despite the many benefits their work brings to the Scottish countryside and economy.”
Funny, the so-called ‘strong levels of support’ for the SNP that I’ve seen from the SGA’s members and supporters over the last few years has consisted almost entirely of vile personal misogynistic abuse.
Here’s a short example targeting Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham in March 2018 after she spoke to campaigners outside Holyrood about the mass slaughter of mountain hares on grouse moors (thanks to the blog reader who’s been compiling this material):
Roseanna hasn’t been the only target – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has received ‘special attention’ as has Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon. And it’s not just female politicians in the SNP who have been at the receiving end of this disgraceful behaviour – politicians in the Scottish Greens and Labour have also been targeted, as have campaigners, bloggers, researchers, journalists, scientists, police officers, lawyers, raptor workers, tv presenters, bird ringers, satellite taggers, funders, charity workers, in fact anyone who dares even hint that driven grouse shooting is a Victorian throwback with huge environmental costs has been a victim of this abusive and targeted harassment.
There’ll be more on this subject shortly.