Sunday, March 4, 2012

Democracy in action! So why don't we use it?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at Westminster, Mrs Caroline Spelman, and her Minister, Richard Benyon, signalling my intention to begin lobbying about raptor persecution and, in particular, the current plight of Hen Harriers. Should such campaigning be successful then, hopefully, the Department would receive a significant amount of enquiries, criticism of policies, requests from MP's and so on and, being the person I am, I thought it only fair to mention the possibility!

I didn't expect a response to what , after all, had been little more than a notification, so I was pleasantly surprised to get a very polite and informative E-mail in return. As a firm advocate of our use of the democratic process this lent weight to my beliefs that the system does work and that we should utilise the process far more than appears to happen when it comes to the sphere of wildlife conservation. I'd also written to Natural England and , similarly, received a detailed response from that organization on the queries I'd raised about the Hen Harrier Recovery Project, Special Protection Areas and other points of concern, details I'll summarize and  put out on the Blog shortly.

Sadly such transparency and co-operation flies in the face of the complacency exhibited by too many conservationists and birders, whose potential and collective efforts could make a real difference if only they could be persuaded to participate. I don't understand, quite genuinely, why this happens! Understandably other commitments might intervene, and so the problem revolves around priority. But the enthusiasm, fervour and sheer physical commitment many participants pour into the pursuits about which we're all so obsessive surely suggests time would , somehow, be made available to submit opinions, raise questions and so on. For some strange reason we appear still to prefer to grumble about things amongst ourselves than take action.

The issues are certainly pushed under our noses and participation couldn't be easier nowadays given modern technology, the social media and the like. Surely if social media networks can play a central part in upending dodgy administrations we can utilise the same means to gain improvements for our native wildlife. Or does it need a "catalyst", a physical , charismatic co-ordinator who can convince, kick backsides and goad people into action? My greatest personal fears on the matter are sometimes realised when , in moments of despair, I'm persuaded into believing that it's just the  " can't be bothered " syndrome which invades our best intentions! What seems clear is that, if it's left to the individual, not much seems to happen!! So let's indicate that change is possible!!

In November, 2011 an E-petition was registered with the Government calling for the offence of vicarious liability to be debated in Parliament and, hopefully, adopted within our legislation. For such a petition to be considered for debate at least 100,000 signatures need to be registered showing that an appreciable number of the electorate is concerned about the issue. At 1030 hours this morning the wholly underwhelming total of signatures had reached 7921.  This is pathetic , folks, as I cannot believe so few of us feel so little about raptor persecution and those responsible for such activities.

There is a remedy! Disregarding the possible confusion with links etc etc simply enter " Vicarious liability E-petitiom " in your browser and, hey presto, the details to access same are there in front of you. The signing up process is straightforward and without any potential confusion.  Simply put, if people can't be bothered to raise the profile of the issue then they must equally be unconcerned about the scourge of persecution of our iconic raptor species which is taking place. The final judgement is actually upon yourselves, as will be evidenced by the signature total!!!

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