A voice in the Lords?


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A brother of the angle with a forum for sense to be heard.

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Bothams pledge.

I won't let the bleeding heart eco-woke ride roughshod over our countryside My mission in the House of Lords is to stand up for ordinary rural folk like me A great read from Ian Botham, now Lord Botham, in the Telegraph. 'When I heard I was to be proposed to sit in the House of Lords, I was more surprised than anything else (or anyone else, perhaps). A mate said: “What the heck are you going to do there, Beefy?” 'Here’s my plan. I want to speak up for the ordinary folk like me who were born and raised in and around rural Britain and who in many cases still owe it their livelihood and quality of life. Is that a bit simplistic? Doesn’t everyone love the countryside and what it represents? Well, no. People who live in the cities and love coming into the countryside to enjoy everything it offers – walks, hikes, rivers, lakes and, of course, the hospitality of country pubs – have no idea of the war that is raging in the countryside. And it is war. 'I’m sure you have heard of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (the RSPB). It raises millions of pounds, mostly from well-intentioned donors who I doubt have much idea of the goals and tactics of this eco-woke group. I caused a bit of a stir some time back when I noted that the latest RSPB fundraising leaflet had a picture of a baby seal on the front cover. I wondered aloud what on earth a baby seal has to do with the protection of birdlife. 'The RSPB relentlessly campaigns against the people who do the real work of managing nature and looking after the well-being of many endangered birds – farmers and gamekeepers. The RSPB seems to hate these folk. These are the men and women who rise before dawn and spend most of their working hours outside in woods and fields and moors trying to improve the countryside habitat. Want to talk about biodiversity? No end of studies have shown that their labours improve woodland, increase the number of bird and animal species and add to plant growth. 'Gamekeepers work on shoots, of course. But putting out seed for pheasants gives our farmland birds – yellowhammers, lapwing and corn buntings – their winter feasts, without which we won’t be seeing them again. Gamekeepers and farmers do the woodland management that stops the canopy of branches closing in. Without that thinning, the light struggles to reach the ground. And so die the shrubs and bushes – the homes of our woodland birds and butterflies. 'I don’t actually think most of my urban friends know all this. But ask anyone in the country pub or down the post office and they will tell you. 'Ranged against these country folk are a handful of grim eco-warriors led by the RSPB and the likes of the BBC’s Chris Packham. Packham was “delighted” when he managed to get farmers banned from shooting crows and wood pigeons during last year’s breeding season. Crows love nothing better than to peck out the eyes of newborn lambs. Did you know that? I’ve seen it. Pigeons love to eat the seeds of the new crop. Farmers had to stand by helplessly as their sheep were attacked and the crops plundered. The corvids also like nothing better than to attack and kill the songbirds which normal RSPB members – like the rest of us – love to see outside the kitchen door on the bird table. 'Packham and the RSPB seem to be determined to stop pheasant shooting, so they use the urban courts to tie the farmers and gamekeepers in red tape. How’s it going for the birds and other wildlife? Not well, I’m afraid. For years the RSPB has been attacking the ancient practice of burning heather during damp winters. Britain’s gamekeepers use such controlled activity to reduce the risk of summer wildfires – just like indigenous people in Australia and North America. 'The scarring of Saddleworth Moor was a warning of what happens when vegetation grows too tall. It didn’t get much coverage on the BBC, but let me assure you it was heartbreaking. Just like the images you see in California or New South Wales but right on our backdoor with hundreds of birds and four-legged creatures burned alive. 'Yet despite knowing what wildfires do to wildlife the RSPB demands a ban on managed burns. Why? Could it be because they are used by the gamekeepers it detests? As a result the rules have become tighter and fewer winter burns are taking place. When the inevitable wildfires happen next summer whom will you blame? 'So eco-woke campaigners are a nightmare for nature. But at least when they manage land they must have a great record at protecting wildlife? Well, they have a record. But do they want it talked about? 'When in September the Government revealed the RSPB had failed – yet again – to manage hen harrier nests, the charity accused officials of being misleading. But the evidence is plain … while RSPB nests don’t succeed, those on grouse moors are producing record numbers of fledged hen harrier chicks. The “P” in RSPB is a misnomer … they don’t protect, they politicise. 'I want to be the voice in this historic House that draws attention to this scandal. Here’s one example. 'In the far North, the Orkney Islands used to be the crown jewels of Britain’s birdlife. But under the grip of the RSPB in 2010 stoats got a toehold on the islands. The RSPB ignored advice on how to prevent them eliminating birds. Ten years of inept management later and the stoats run riot. Endangered birds suffer and the RSPB is having to use £6 million of public money and 20,000 lethal traps to try to kill all the stoats. Rare birds are being killed and the RSPB appears to have no idea – and I would say, no real interest in – how to turn the disastrous situation around. 'It is eight years since the RSPB stopped publishing figures for how many birds it has on its reserves. Why do you think that is? 'It’s time for the countryside to get a voice. Let the people who live and work there have a say, not the metropolitans and the BBC. So that’s my answer to my aforementioned pal. That’s what I want to do in the noble House: represent the ordinary folk who depend on the countryside.'