Have you ever wondered why things that are so clearly detrimental to rural life are implemented regardless? Do you ever feel you are kept in the dark and fed bullshit? I know I do. Consequently, I decided to look a little deeper into how these things work.
Imagine, if you will, the hypothetical case where so-called progressive politicians want to stop people shooting cute little bunny rabbits and putting them into pies for the enjoyment of ‘savage’ rural people who have been happily doing this for generations. Another case of ‘Disneyfication’ of the countryside.
Now, as a government, you could simply impose this change, akin to the recent actions of the Dutch government working against its own farming community recently. That, however, could reasonably be expected to be met with outrage, much as the Dutch government’s actions have done. You won’t, of course, see much about that on the news in the UK.
I know, what about having a ‘Public Consultation’? That should put a stop to any objections, especially if we could secure a high proportion of respondents agreeing with the proposal. Something like an overwhelming 84% agreement seems like a nice round figure.
The problem with this, of course, is there’s a chance that we won’t get the results we want.
I know what can be done, if the ‘Public Consultation’ were to be overwhelmed in some way by those in favour then we could point to the numbers and simply shrug saying the public agrees with this course of action and simply ‘rubber stamp’ the changes.
Typically, these take the form of a survey via a simple questionnaire and can be open to a much wider audience than those directly affected. Often, the only identification needed is a name, email address and postcode. Not that the postcode matters terribly much, it’s easy to get hold of a relevant postcode.
I can hear detractors even now shouting, ‘Nonsense, this is no more than a conspiracy theory.’ Is it?
Let me draw your attention now to a real situation, playing out as I write this. That of the ‘Public Consultation’ by the government of Northern Ireland in respect of changes to General Licences for the control of wild birds. It’s similar to the recent case in England that was triggered by Wild Justice. Wild Justice also have a vested interest in Northern Ireland.
Getting the ‘correct’ answers
In a recent mailing sent out by Wild Justice to its membership their ‘desirable’ answers are helpfully provided. This allows their acolytes to respond in the ‘correct’ way thus skewing the ‘Public Consultation’ in their favour. Here’s an example:
Q6-17 General Licence TPG1 – preserving public health or safety.
These 12 questions relate to 12 species of bird and ask whether each should be included on this general licence. The answer for each, we suggest, is NO. [Feral Pigeon is the only species listed on the equivalent licences for Scotland and Wales, Feral Pigeon and Jackdaw are listed for the England equivalent licence. Northern Ireland is suggesting removing 3 gull species, Rook and Wood Pigeon from the licence but we believe that House Sparrow, Starling, Hooded Crow, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and Magpie, as well as Feral Pigeon, should also be removed].
So please tick the box NO for every species and, if minded to, add the following words in the boxes for the following species:
Feral Pigeon ‘An individual licence could be issued if there were a good enough case.‘
All other 11 species ‘An individual licence could be issued if there were a good enough case. General licences for this species for this purpose do not exist anywhere else in the UK.‘
In fact, the entire questionnaire is covered and ‘model’ answers are provided for each set of questions.
Did you complete the survey?
Now, I would not be so arrogant as to suggest how you should answer any of the questions. However, I would urge you to take the time to complete the questionnaire using your own practical experience gained from working and/or living in the countryside. I completed the survey in about 15 minutes.
To not do so is one of the main reasons we in the countryside lose out so badly. Time after depressing time. The Northern Ireland public consultation, closing date 21st July 2022, can be found here.