Although not a hunting or shooting man, Simon recognises how important these traditional countryside activities are in helping to preserve the ancient mosaic of woodland, pastures, arable and moorland which symbolizes the British countryside, and is enjoyed by people from all walks of life.
If, as my neighbour went on to say, it were not for farmers and landowners who support and encourage shooting and hunting, vast acres of the beautiful traditional countryside which we care for, would have long since been turned into vast plains of open characterless arable and grassland land.
Farms which support hunting and shooting have a far higher population of birds, flora, wildlife, and sustainable natural cover. What is difficult to fathom out is why people and organisations who purport to care about wildlife and the countryside, are hell bent upon destroying the very people, organisations and way of life which is fundamental in preserving the fragile balance of that environment.
The RSPCA is once again under the spotlight as questions are being asked as to why this charity sees fit to squander millions of pounds, donated by the public. We assume the money given to this animal charity, will be used to care for stray dogs and cats, and the important work of protecting animals from cruelty and neglect. Not on costly court cases prosecuting people going about their legitimate business.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Animals has spent in excess of £22.5 million of public money on prosecutions in the past two years. An ongoing case against a member of the Cattistock Hunt, who they accuse of a single count of breaching the hunting ban by not preventing two hounds from pursuing a fox, has already cost thousands of pounds, and is apparently unlikely to succeed as it is weak and there is very little evidence. The prosecution’s case rests upon some dodgy film footage taken by a hunt saboteur and handed to the RSPCA.
If there was a case surely the police should bring such a prosecutions, not a charity which is entrusted with the public’s donations.
The Cattestock Hunt has a reputation for being well organised and following the current hunting legislation to the letter. However, both Will Bryer and my friend Charlotte Townshend, the joint masters of the hunt, have been targeted by the Dorset hunt saboteurs, and now the RSPCA, for purely politically motivated reasons. Charlotte has always been a committed wildlife conservationist, who has been falsely accused by the animal-rights activists of supporting the trials for the Government’s badger cull on her Dorset estate.
As reported in the Mail on Sunday, she was forced to step down as patron of the Dorset Wildlife Trust. She did so fearing that the work of the charity, founded by her grandfather more than half a century ago, would be compromised. Activists were inundating the DWT’s Facebook and Twitter pages and her with abusive messages.
Whatever happens in this case it highlights the close relationship between the RSPCA and the animal rights movement. The charity, whose patron is the Queen is understandably becoming increasingly distrusted by the public, who will look elsewhere to donate their money.
The tide is turning, and once again people are writing letters, buying type writers and using land lines instead of mobile telephones. As Dominic Sandbrook highlights in his Daily Mail column, our privacy is being compromised through Google and social media. We are under surveillance 24 hours a day, particularly in towns and cities, and increasingly the security services are extending their far reaching powers to obtain information about anyone’s private concerns.
Computers and mobile gadgets are vulnerable and easy to access, and we should be very concerned that our privacy is being invaded. Therefore returning to traditional tried and tested forms of communication is becoming increasingly attractive.
As the Magna Carta celebrates its 800th birthday this year, the very principle of our freedom is, as Mr Sandbrook suggests, perhaps now more embattled than at any time in living memory. Little by little successive governments have been quietly eating away at our civil liberties.
Tony Blair planned to introduce compulsory ID cards, fortunately scrapped by the coalition in 2010, but the Government is now planning to introduce the ‘Verify’ project, which will give everyone a ‘virtual ID’ which would allow the government website to track and store our confidential data.
The NHS is gathering our personal information for its databases, which could be used by insurance or pension companies to force us to pay higher premiums. The NHS also has plans to bank of our genetic data.
Even our jury service introduced in 1215 in clause 38 of the Magna Carta is in danger – supposedly to cut costs and speed up the court process.
We should be very concerned that the ‘state’ is becoming increasing controlling. Our freedom, our businesses, our environment are all under surveillance and control. The Magna Carta drawn up by King John has for the past 800 years made Great Britain the ‘cradle of liberty’, we must ensure that our politicians are held to account to uphold our liberty, not undermine it.
Carola Godman Irvine