This ‘downtrodden gamekeeper’ act is fooling no-one

As campaigning for the forthcoming Scottish election gets in to full swing, I’ve been reading more and more about poor ‘downtrodden’ gamekeepers, how they’re not listened to, how hard done by they are, how they’ve been ‘vilified’ etc etc.

This article in last week’s Herald is a classic example, although pay close attention to who wrote it – Clare Taylor, Political Affairs Editor at The Scottish Farmer – her reference to farmers being “plagued” by the return of White-tailed eagles and commentary about “a growing obsession with rewilding” gives you a good idea about her environmental aspirations.

The truth is, rural affairs already have a very loud voice in the Scottish Parliament, in the shape of Fergus Ewing, Minister for Tourism and the Rural Economy who called himself “a friend in Government” to the Scottish Gamekeepers Association recently. Such a good friend in fact that he’s auctioning off a Holyrood tour (that should be free) to help the SGA’s fundraising activities (see here).

Clare Taylor’s tweet, promoting her biased article in the Herald, made me laugh:

After proclaiming that the Scottish Government ‘must stamp out the vilifying of individuals’, what does she think the accompanying photograph shows? Er, could it be a bunch of Scottish gamekeepers vilifying Chris Packham outside Perth Concert Hall, protesting about him having a job?

And are these the same gamekeepers who routinely vilify and abuse those of us campaigning against environmentally-damaging, unlawful and unsustainable grouse moor management (see here and here)?

And are these the same gamekeepers who continue to shoot, trap and poison birds of prey in the Scottish countryside?

Clare’s article includes a quote from the co-ordinator of Scotland’s Moorland Groups. That’ll be Tim (Kim) Baynes then, a Director of the landowners’ lobby group Scottish Land & Estates – hardly someone without connections to politicians and civil servants, is he? Yet another influential voice speaking to power on behalf of gamekeepers.

Although Scottish Land & Estates’ CEO, Sarah-Jane Laing, was on here last week in the comments section claiming that ‘The Regional Moorland Groups which exist across Scotland are not part of the SLE structure‘.

Really? Well why then does Tim Baynes’s job description, on the SLE website, say that he’s the co-ordinator of those seven moorland groups??

And what about those seven regional moorland groups? They’re an interesting bunch. Grouse moors in five of those seven regions have been in the last three years, or currently are, under police investigation for alleged raptor persecution crimes (grouse moors in the regions covered by the Angus Glens Moorland Group, Grampian Moorland Group, Tomatin Moorland Group, Tayside & Central Moorland Group and the Southern Uplands Moorland Group).

And there are more ongoing police investigations linked to grouse moor management and raptor persecution that are yet to be publicised. Believe me, the public will be appalled when the news comes out and it’ll be a bloody brave (or desperate) politician that puts their name down to support this continued criminality.

16 thoughts on “This ‘downtrodden gamekeeper’ act is fooling no-one”

  1. I’m sure chimney sweeps complained about being down trodden and put upon when they were told to stop sending children up chimneys.

  2. There’s a reason they feel downtrodden and forgotten. Their Job which despite their claims to the contrary has never been seen by anyone else as a “profession” and no way equivalent to a doctor, teacher , lawyer etc, is a largely a Victorian invention and most if not quite all of the electorate has moved on somewhat since then. We no longer applaud those who kill all our native predators, we now know better, many are now protected not that game keepers appear in large part to have noticed this change in the law about 60 years ago. Their practices are archaic and the world has rightly moved on and they and those who support and indeed employ them are being left behind too. I applaud that and hope the end is in sight for “traditional keepering and its management of our wildlife ( killing!) and habitats ( vandalism of the natural world).

    1. Paul V Irving wrote: Their Job which despite their claims to the contrary has never been seen by anyone else as a “profession”

      Correct, nor are there poachers turned gamekeepers just wildlife killers with a different name and government support.

  3. I’m sure that mega-wealthy backers would jump at the chance to support anyone within the game shooting industry with a good case to sue conservationist/lobbyist for defamation so I wonder what sort of draconian laws she thinks should be passed by the government to “stamp out the vilifying of individuals who have dedicated their lives to managing our land, local wildlife, & rural cultural heritage”.

  4. Time to organise a huge protest about driven grouse shooting practices, high lighting all incidents of all reported birds of prey persecution, with pictures of what one so called managed moor looks like ( patch work quilt ) . Worked on keepered moors and unkeepered moors. Plenty of people very willing to control the fox population. A shooting hobby in it’s own right , a quick kill at that . No snaring , no illegal fox hunting on Lordy Lordy ground , that there well payed lawyers get them off when it does get to court , ring any bells . NEED TO GET TOGETHER WITH ALL ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS, MASS MARCH LONDON .
    Until the courts start doing there jobs
    In protecting a keepers job not to break law
    Any body herd of a keeper taking boss to court for constructive dismissal expecting them to break law . Lordy Lordy would get away with that as well.

    1. No but over the years I know of three keepers got rid of because they either wouldn’t or didn’t break the law. Two were over nesting Hen Harriers and the other just general.

  5. The only thing that is downtrodden in our countryside are the animals and birds that live there. Visit any grouse shooting area and find a stoat or weasel caught in a trap or find a dead raptor.

  6. The Scottish Farmer has been publishing this kind of dark ages stuff for a long time now. Clearly they could’t care less about the damage it does to the image of Scottish Farming among anyone with an averge IQ

  7. Does Fergus Ewing in his role involving tourism realise that he’s doing law abiding businesses no favours in his support of “sporting” estates? Why would people interested in wildlife visit when he supports (at public expense🤔) & promotes the ‘profession’ which controls it to create a monoculture as well as practising ‘muirburn’ to generate particulate pollution for rural residents🤔

  8. When this appeared on Twitter I engaged aforesaid journalist in a polite discussion. She expressed her concern that all are lumped in together as criminals by the anti-shooting lobby. I pointed out to her that nobody is lumping everyone together but that they are just trying to stop the criminal persecution.

    I then challenged her to prove that she is a journalist and not a propagandist by revealing how often the SGA have shopped one of their own to the authorities, and to repeat the process for SLE, MA, CA, BASC, etc etc. Needless to say, I am still awaiting her answer.

  9. So 120 pairs of sea eagles across Scotland are somehow making sheep farming uneconomic for the crofting community in particular, yet not a beep about some trees and beavers back in our hills stopping families getting forced out of their homes by flooding. I’ve worked in the Highlands and Islands on anti fuel poverty work and there are indeed people in rather desperate circumstances there who deserve sympathy and support, unfortunately they are not the same as the people actually getting it. Those are the greedy bastards never losing an opportunity to play the ‘hard done by’ card and because it’s been done so long now many recipients of that message are conditioned into believing it. Rural politics are a cesspit, no surprise that raptor persecution has endured for so long.

  10. In her article Claire Taylor fails to mention the scale and scope of grants, subsidies and funding provided through the Scottish government’s “rural payments and services scheme” to crofters, farmers and the like.
    How many rural business would be economically viable without the financial support of tax payers money?
    How many other industries receive this level of subsidy?
    I would suggest the rural payment scheme is a very visible testament of a government which supports and values traditional rural sectors, not just at election time, but continuously through these various rural funding schemes.
    Something which seems to be completely overlooked in the article in the Herald.

    The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation lists Greenock Town Centre and East Central, Inverclyde as the area with highest deprivation in Scotland.
    In fact the 10 most deprived areas in Scotland are all urban areas.
    This evidence would seem to contradict the allegations of a down trodden, neglected and overlooked rural sector, overlooked by Holyrood.
    If this were the case then surely one would expect to find rural areas somewhere in the deprivation list?

    But the sort article published in the Herald is most probably written to tell the reader what they want to hear, not to lay out the truth or offer an objective unbiased point of view.

    1. Spot on! All things considered I was actually lucky when I went to Lewis and instead of finding that the crofters I surveyed to help reduce any fuel poverty were struggling financially, found instead were actually affluent, ‘bloody loaded’ as a colleague put it. The non crofting people of Stornoway frequently commented ‘the crofters get everything’, and they were right. I was furious because the image and message of the kind, but poor crofter I had been receiving for forty years as a mainland Scot at that stage was a contrived lie, not a romantic projection or misrepresentation by anyone else. So I consider myself lucky to know it’s a lie, the price is seeing red every time I hear the predictable sob stories meant for our consumption, sea eagles eating all their sheep being the latest one, but which was given an unsuccessful trial run years before on the Gairloch peninsula. I have never known a more grasping, greedy, opportunistic people (‘but can we not get it for free?’), and am utterly disgusted at how other people who really do deserve help are neglected/ignored in comparison.

      The ‘townies’ in Fort William don’t have access to mains gas, it’s particularly cold and damp there and the not great quality of the housing stock mean fuel poverty is bloody horrendous. A lot of families (wonderful people compared to many I dealt with in Lewis) are genuinely struggling to keep themselves and their children warm. They are not crofters though, and the result is in terms of attention and help they effectively get sweet FA. However, a crofter whines and the politicians come running, I’ve witnessed that directly too. The lies that are being fed to the Scottish people about the ‘poor’ crofters is a scandal, that’s up there with the people maimed and killed in road collisions with a bloated red deer population because the latter is convenient for stalking estates, and of course ongoing raptor persecution. As I said before rural politics in Scotland is a cesspit.

  11. Not directly relevant to this article. Seen from the A92 just south of Montrose yesterday 12/4/2021, heather burning which looked to be in lower Glenesk, perhaps Sturdy Hill, which would be on the Gannochy Estate?

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