Anti-hunting civil servants are clever. Like spetznaz sleepers, they look like normal people and do their jobs to the best of their ability. Give them an opportunity to stick the knife into Britain’s rural community without getting caught and they do it. Then they turn to their colleagues and smile as if nothing had happened.
So it is with the Scottish Government’s survey on hunting with hounds (click here), in advance of its almost inevitable further restrictions. It asks 17 questions. It closes on 13 May 2022, so be quick. They are clever questions and, in answering them, you should be aware of how the Scottish Government can use your answers against you.
To take this survey is to take part in a rearguard action. We have to take part. We currently have only one thing on our side: the failure of the civil service to understand the countryside and therefore its broad failure to make laws that can govern it. Happily, the strong social cohesion you find in rural communities compared to urban communities mean the UK countryside is largely self-governing.In years of dealing with governments in Cardiff, Westminster, Edinburgh and Stormont, I have found the one thing the civil service hates is being made to look like idiots. I recall talking to a civil servant who was trying to find a way of enacting the latest EU lunacy about the consumption of gamebirds. He had come up with the plan of only allowing us to eat pheasant if it had been shot in our own or an adjacent local authority area. As I tried, kindly, to point out the errors within this, he said plaintively, “Please don’t make me look like an ass.”
When it comes to dealing with government, the hope that we hunters have is that, however hard they try to find alternatives, the staff from the League Against Cruel Sports who draft the UK’s anti-hunting laws always end up making ‘intention’ to hunt with dogs the illegal act. And that means putting the dogs not the hut staff into the dock. As yet, no lawyer has successfully cross-examined a dog.
What we have to do is get another thing on our side. Over the next few years, we must change the social licence for hunting. We have to change the mindset away from hunting being negative, a ‘demerit’ activity. People should start thinking of hunting and shooting for what they are: the guardians of the UK’s wildlife. We need to be proud of what we have achieved for wildlife in the face of a general collapse in biodiversity thanks to development and agriculture. There’s only one way we can do that and it’s through the media.
The media is capable of performing two positive jobs for society. It can lose people their jobs who deserve to lose their jobs and it can change the social licence for an activity (it can also lose people their jobs who don’t deserve to lose them, and it can monster activities that don’t deserve to be monstered). Join the Fieldsports Nation and we can start to move this tanker around. Visit Fcha.nl/membership