Scottish Government bemused by gamekeepers’ planned protest

Last November, the Scottish Government finally reached the end of its tether with the criminality and environmental damage associated with driven grouse shooting and announced its intention to bring in a licensing scheme for grouse shooting estates (see here).

In response, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) went in to an enraged meltdown and announced its members would hold a protest (or at least localised protests as Covid restrictions prevented a gathering at Holyrood), although it wasn’t clear what, exactly, they would be protesting about – they just seemed furious about the idea of a scheme that would mean a licence could be withdrawn if criminal activities were detected – (see here).

Since we’re all in another period of lockdown, even localised protests are out of the question and so now the SGA is planning an online protest instead. An article in yesterday’s Sunday Times revealed more details:

The online protest is set for 19th March 2021 and it seems the SGA is trying to drum up support from various industries, to come under the banner of a ‘Rural Workers’ Protest’. Look out for the hashtag #RWP21 on social media.

According to this article, the reasons for protesting include what the SGA calls ‘anti-rural measures pursued by the SNP and the Green Party’, and claims that the sector ‘has not had a fair deal from this parliament’.

Interestingly, amongst all the reasons given by the SGA for wanting to protest, grouse moor licensing does not feature explicitly in this article. The nearest the SGA gets is to complain about the Government’s alleged ‘unwillingness to manage or address predation’ and ‘curbs on muirburn’.

In response, the Scottish Government is reported to have said that it ‘did not recognise the claims being made’. In addition, Mark Ruskell MSP from the Scottish Greens said:

Many more rural jobs could be created if we banned the cruel practice of grouse shooting and used the land in other ways, to restore our forests and peatlands to tackle the climate emergency“.

18 thoughts on “Scottish Government bemused by gamekeepers’ planned protest”

  1. They are complicit in their own demise. Far more jobs would be created by working to reverse the damage done by grouse moor development. All of those water courses to be re-established, those tracks and butts to be removed, the trees to be planted. What is more: that would be proper paid work, not the cash in hand, tax avoidance schemes used to pay beaters and part-time game-keepers.

    Then, how many of us would be flocking to see Curlew, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Hen Harrier, Golden Eagle etc in their natural habitat, bringing money into these local communities?

    How much money would be saved by the reduction in down-moor flooding? The options for improving the rural economy are massive.

  2. When you see comments like those in ‘The Times’, it comes very close to an advertisement for the Scottish Conservatists for the forthcoming Scottish Parliamentary Election!
    Basically, these folk have had far too many chances to conform to the laws on wildlife protection, instead of trying to find ways around them and having failed, they – of all people – are crying ‘Foul!’
    As time runs out for them, we can expect much more of this. They think they represent the people who live in the glens and elsewhere in the countryside, because – even yet – people are afraid to tell them what they REALLY think, but in fact there is little support amongst ordinary country folk for what they want to continue doing.

  3. They seem to be lashing out in all directions, and I’m not convinced that many people will fall for it.

    I’m tired of seeing the way they continue to hijack the terms “rural” and “countryside” to mean only their narrow understanding of them.

    Nor do I like the way they use the word “sport”. Most people would understand it to mean a contest between equals.

    1. Indeed, I was just composing a paragraph about the pathetic lament of ‘anti rural’ measures, but saw you did so already. ‘You townies know nothing, coming here, telling us how to manage our countryside, threatening our jobs, our children could starve!’.

  4. Time people realised what happens on these estates and what damage they can cause to our mutual world. The recent fires on some of the islands were caused by muir burn ruining an already thin soil. When will they realise the damage that they are doing? Time to let people see the beauty of our landscapes and our wildlife that they can support rather than the killing moors that they currently are. Surely a much more inclusive and ultimately more profitable use of land that will benefit all.

  5. They’ve brought it ALL on themselves, they couldn’t get their house in order, they had MORE than enough time to do so, but, xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx oh dear, Scottish Government put a HUGE downer on that for them huh !! With any luck they’ll give up ,they do NOT like being scrutinised and scrutiny is what they face, SERVES THEM RIGHT !!

  6. This is a classic case of the Land Owners and Gamekeepers having a holy than thou attitude to both the public and government. They have been complicit in bringing their own industry into disrepute. It is high time that the laws changed and that a very strict code of practise was introduced that meant they had to provide evidence to the way the moorland was maintained. This coupled with a licensing scheme that required both satisfaction of both the law and the code of practice. This should include full details of all participants there roles and payments made when and where.

  7. I see careless or deceptive editing at ‘The Scottish Government said…’, which should have started the next para. Parked at the end of the previous it loses visibility.

    Fortunately it missed being buried at the bottom of a column.

  8. “Rural Workers” my a*se!…It would be nice to see the average scottish shepherd’s view of his local gamekeeper in print. “Swanning about in their fancy bought tweeds, driving round in their smart 4 by 4 s and sucking up to the toffs – are just a few of the milder words Ive heard. Ive never forgotten the petty vindictiveness of one keeper who fell out with the local shepherd and nailed all his gates shut!..How they have the gall to say they speak for the countryside just shows what a cloud cuckoo land they are living in….

    1. Petty little bullies; I was going to say ‘Little Hitlers’, but they might enjoy that! Gamekeepers need to be brought to heel, with their landowners/Shoot managers letting them get away, literally with xxxxxxxxxxx and criminality.

  9. Don’t under estimate the power of populism! The SGA are utilising the political power of populism to reach out to other sectors of the rural community who might also feel that their concerns are being ignored by the politicians in Holyrood. By playing to peoples raw emotions that the proposed licencing regulations and other government policies might be a bad thing for rural communities, the SGA might get rural support to help their lobbying of the Scottish government.
    This “call to arms” might also offer a good platform for the Countryside Alliance to get involved and promote their agenda before the elections in May.
    Once peoples emotions are whipped up, it becomes harder to get them to understand reasoned and logical arguments.
    The land owners whose interests in maintaining the status quo on the grouse moors will no doubt also get behind this movement, and add further weight to the pressure on politicians.
    There are parallels here to what happened in the USA with “Trumpism”, and how sectors of the community who are made to believe their way of life is threatened will come out in force.
    Conservation groups need to watch what is going on here very carefully, and ensure that they also get their voice heard in the rural communities to reassure them that the proposed DGS regulations will not necessarily mean a degradation in the rural way of life.
    Most people fear change, and I think it’s fair to say those who have vested interests in the DGS industry will try and utilise that fear to garner support for their cause.

    1. I agree …………. Fox hunting was quietly dying out before it was banned; there is no more powerful argument in deep rural areas than bloody “Incomers” telling us what to do… was the voice the “Countryside Alliance” mobilised very effectively; the problem is that rural life is expensive re food and travel costs, car etc and there are very significant pockets of deep poverty/ Left Behind, rural subculture etc etc….ie incomers are blamed for spreading C19 in spots I know….its powerful visceral gut politics which may have nothing at all to do with reason.

      1. Though Countryside Areliars propaganda can be comically inept. Take their early strapline “Listen to us”. As Chandler Bing might have put it “Could that strapline BE more pompous?”

    2. Good point. The conservation organisations have been shrinking violets when it comes to highlighting what they’ve been contributing to local economies for decades. The RSPB certainly has gone to great lengths to source the ingredients and products it sells in its cafes from local farms and suppliers. They have a policy of trying to give preferential consideration to local contractors, and Abernethy employs more people now that it’s a reserve than when it was a sporting estate. Meanwhile the grouse moor owners will ship in supplies from the fancy London shops to impress their clients, and have been known to bus in beaters from outside the local area. Even the pretty pathetic economic benefits that might accrue to rural communities from driven grouse shooting aren’t fully realised. Where’s the charter or accreditation schemes to show grouse moors are doing whatever they can for local jobs and families – there aren’t any, they can’t be arsed.

      If they did their very best it would still be crap compared to the alternatives – why aren’t the Norwegians, Finns and Swedes not rushing to create grouse moors if they’re so dynamic for rural economies? You don’t even have to look to eco-tourism or rewilding how much scope is there for increasing pony trekking in Scotland once our moors aren’t being burnt or shot over? How many people could ride a pony on a moor compared to shoot a big bag of driven grouse even if they wanted to? That would just be pony trekking before we started looking at a growing list of other activities coming on stream.

      The conservation organisations need to go on the offensive with facts and figures about themselves and the grouse moors to pull the rug from under the lying loudmouths. They’ve spent too long allowing themselves to be put up as the baddy not listening to locals, threatening jobs, not caring about people etc, etc so others can ludicrously pretend to be the underdog – underdogs that often receive public money most of the rest of us don’t. It’s the other way round in reality and the public need to be shown that. Conserving our wildlife and ecological restoration have been criminally slow and a lot of what has happened has been down to conscientious Scandinavian billionaires. It needs to change, we need to go up a couple of gears and that will be by smacking down the estates as should have been done years ago.

  10. As has been said, there will be a political dimension to this, though lurking behind the scenes. We must not underestimate the power of the Tory propaganda machine, the dubious position of Fergus Ewing in relation to any change to the status quo and the likes of “Countryfile” and its related programmes. We’re getting there but there are still large parts of the population who really don’t receive a balanced view of things.

  11. This shite is nothing more than part of the the bird killers’ campaign to ensure that they get what they want out of a DGS licensing system i.e. licensed DGS. And, most likely, that is exactly what they’ll get. We’ll be seeing a lot more of this guff in the months to come.

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