Monday, 7 December 2009

Back the Ban

As the General Election looms into view, MPs are starting to get emails from lobbyists and campaign groups who are obviously preparing themselves for battle. This one arrived today.

"BASC is the largest fieldsports body in the UK. Shooting involves a million people, benefits conservation and provides both recreation and food. Live quarry shooting alone contributes £1.6 billion to the UK economy and £250 million on conservation each year. In the last parliament it enjoyed support from all parties.

One of our objectives is to work for all party support for shooting...... In the months leading up to the election we will be running a campaign site on candidates’ views on shooting. The site will contain a database of candidates and allow our members to email their candidates.

In advance of the launch of the site I would be grateful if you could answer one question that will allow us to put an entry beside your name on the database. Please choose the option that comes closest to your views:

  • I support shooting sports conducted according to the current codes of practice.
  • I am supportive of some aspects of legal shooting sports but have reservations in one or more areas.
  • I am against shooting sports.
  • I do not yet have enough information to make an assessment."

That was an easy one to answer. I've replied (third option, if you really need it spelling out, in which case welcome to my blog as you've obviously not been here before). I've also asked BASC to substantiate their claim that 1 million people are involved in shooting. That sounds like an awful lot of people. Unless 'involved' means simply to eat grouse and pheasant and such like?

This also gives me another opportunity to plug, which I appreciate only applies to fox-hunting, but that's the battle we currently have to fight, given the overwhelming support amongst the Tories for it and Cameron's pledge to hold a vote on hunting as one of the first acts of an incoming Tory Government. (Although judging by tomorrow's Populus poll, that might not be something you have to worry about. And yes, I know the Tories have an 8 point lead, but 38%-30% is definitely game on territory for Labour, and not enough to give Cameron a majority.)

If you haven't signed up to Back the Ban yet, how about doing so to send a signal to the bloodsports brigade before the Boxing Day hunts?


Anonymous said...

Well said Kerry.

The League Against Cruel Sports have launched a politically independent campaign to make people aware of the threat posed by some politicians to the Hunting Act.

You can find out more on the campaign website at and follow us on twitter at

Kerry said...

I hope you'll be doing what BASC is doing and publishing details of candidates' views on hunting? And if you have any joy getting an answer out of my elusive Tory opponent, let me know!

The Filthy Engineer said...

I just want to hunt socialist bunny huggers. This class warfare is ludicrous.

BASC communications said...

You will know that in the run-up to the Hunting Act the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) stated that controlling foxes by shooting is the most humane and effective method. You will also be aware that since 1979 the Labour Party has had a manifesto commitment to support shooting and more recently has developed a "Shooting Charter" which outlines its position in more detail. The Rt. Hon David Milliband, then Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs wrote a foreword to a joint economic study into Shooting Sports in 2006 which showed that two million hectares of land in the UK are actively managed for conservation as a result of shooting and provide richer habitats for many species as a result.

You were elected on the last manifesto which supported shooting - and we expect the Labour Party to have a manifesto commitment to support shooting next May. How much do you actually know about shooting as carried out today? We offer you an invitation to come and find out if the reality matches what you think happens.

Kerry said...

But you haven't answered my question - where does the 1 million figure come from?

Kerry said...

Correction - I've now seen my emails, and got this reply from BASC:

"Thank you for your reply. The one million figure comes from the Cobham report – an independent study of shooting conducted in 1996, the figure includes, beaters, pickers up and gamekeepers. The more recent PACEC independent study (2006) looked only at guns (those who pull the trigger) and came up with a figure of 480,000 in live quarry shooting alone – it didn’t count clay shooters and rifle target shooters or airgunners.

I’d be interested in know if you’re against all shooting sports including target shooting."

To which I've replied,"I'm against all shooting 'sports' where there's a living creature on both ends of the gun!"

Fenrir said...

Shooting sports do not hurt anybody, shooters learn self discipline and are mindful of the potential impact that their sport might have on others. Gun control laws have done nothing to limit the spread of unlicensed firearms on the streets of our cities and the crimes associated with their use.

Landsi said...

Ma'am, can I point out to you that, while you are entitled to your personal views on meat eating, hunting, etc, your own party's manifesto rather limits your options in this area as a Labour MP?

As has already been pointed out, your party is committed to backing shooting sports in the UK. If you choose to oppose this line then, if only on moral grounds, should you not stand down and campaign for re-election on this issue as an independent?

Geoffrey Woollard said...

"I just want to hunt socialist bunny huggers. This class warfare is ludicrous."

It's nothing to do with class, Filthy Engineer. It's nothing to do with class. It's all to do with our attitudes to other people and to wild animals and our standards of civilisation. We British led the way in banning the slave trade and in banning slavery in the Empire, we led the way in banning bear baiting and cock fighting, and we led the way in banning hunting and hare coursing. We must continue to make progress and not let our civilisation take a backward step.

Mike Hobday said...

You shouldn't let BASC get away with saying that Labour produced a shooting charter.

It was a draft charter, produced by one MP, and never approved by the Party.

I'm interested, though, in what they think "the most humane" method of killing pheasants is? Getting them to fly before shooting them?

timbone said...

I am surprised noone has mentioned 'second hand smoke' in relation to shooting, after all, it is not the person holding the smoking gun who dies!

Anonymous said...

Kerry you are well aware that the Hunting Act promotes what are perceived to be humane alternatives to killing wild animals with dogs, namely shooting them.

Indeed the l;aw contains the requirement for animals to be shot dead in certain circumstances.

If you are so against shooting how can you support this law?

It's worth noting that LACS are on record as stating that shooting animals is humane.

Remember Remember said...

I suspect that if you, Kerry, were faced with a bunch of rabbits slowly dying of Mixie, you'd either let them die slowly and painfully or summon a vet to catch them and inject them...
In fact, I don't think you have the beginnings of an idea about farming, life in the countryside or target shooting sports. Do you even have a pastime?
Have you considered what pest species do to the staple diet of veggies?

Anonymous said...

Do you now accept that one million people are involved in shooting sports?

Kerry said...

RR - I'm talking about bloodsports, i.e. people who kill animals for fun. It's a complete red herring to bring the issue of controlling the spread of animal diseases into it.

Anonymous said...

actually hunting with hounds is a good way of helping control animal diseases. this is because weak and diseased animals are less able to escape from the hounds and hence more likely to be killed.

in this way it works in the opposite fashion to labour's so called 'humane'
alternative, shooting them.

sickly animals are less likely to be shot as they are less likely to bolt. shooting also can wound leading to more weak animals and more disease.

natural predation keeps the prey population healthy.

unfortunately animals like foxes which are naturally mid range predators have had their predators removed

the only means of controlling the population we have which mimics the natural effect of predation in important ecological respects is hunting with hounds.

deer must also be controlled because their predators have been removed. if they are not controlled it would have severe negative consequences for our ecosystem.

in the south west of england where there are large numbers of small farms the only centralised, organised method of management was stag hunting. now more animals are killed piecemeal by stalkers and poachers who tend to go for stags thus damaging the gene pool.

Kerry said...

So it's a public service now, not a sport?

Anonymous said...

with the greatest respect but you do have a rather simplistic view of things. do you not understand that something can perform more than one function at the same time.

why should a sporting activity not fulfill other functions at the same time.

at the end of the day the fox population will be healthier if we have hunting than if we just control it with labour's preferred so called 'humane' method of shooting.

shooting does nothing to weed out sickly animals and it also leaves wounded animals that suffer far more than hunted foxes.

as you know the hunting act demands that animals are shot even when the intention of the flushing is merely to flush them out in order to disperse them.

it is an incredibly incompetently drafted law.

Anonymous said...

do you support it being legal to use terriers below ground in order to protect game birds to be shot but illegal to do so to protect a lamb. what exactly are the grounds for this.

why is it illegal to humanely flush out a mammal to disperse it unless you then shoot it. how come shooting an animal is more humane. it simply isn't

the law is a complete mess. i am amazed at how incompetent labour are when faced with the task of drafting a simple piece of legislation.

are all the laws you have produced as laughably ridiculous.

Kerry said...

Well if the law is flawed, the answer is to strengthen it, not scrap it. Think you've posted enough comments for now. If other people come back on this, I will let you have the right of reply.

mikej100 said...

Why does have to take a law to be passed to stop such barbaric shameful acts,surely we as a race have evolved enough to exercise compassion and respect and not take part in such a disgusting ritual ,makes me ashamed to be human sometimes.