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24th Dec - The RSPB (in the words of Sir Ian Botham)

Today we thought we would borrow some of the words from Sir Ian Botham's rallying cry in this month's edition of the Field Magazine.

The article is calling for all rural communities to unite and tackle the threat against our way of life, particularly from politically motivated activists within the RSPB.

“I've decided to make it my mission to speak up for rural folk who depend on the countryside for their livelihoods and way of life.

As we approach Christmas, country people will be out tending the rivers, hedges, woods and pathways that visitors to the countryside often take for granted. The don’t expect thanks but what worries me is these people are living under unprecedented threat. Gamekeepers and farmers continue to be vilified and harassed for doing the vital work they do.

And it's not just these primary countryside custodians, it's the support acts too. The pub staff, farm workers, plumbers, electricians and machinists.

The rural economy touches entire villages and communities, many of which rely not only on the small incomes that come to them but also the companionship, the sense of well being and mutual interest that accrues from continuing a way of life that's integral to where they live.

Some are past retirement age or have small but increasingly worrying health issues, but they want to stay 'involved' and active. Others are coming into the rural world and wondering what a working life in the countryside can possibly look like.

It is these ordinary people who are under threat. Aided by celebrities like Chris Packham and politically connected millionaires like Ben Goldsmith, there's a campaign against them and its led by the innocuous-sounding RSPB.

People often ask, what could possibly be wrong with an organisation that wants to protect birds? Nothing, if that is what it actually did, but please believe me, the RSPB, which is a £147 million a year money-making machine, is far from what it claims to its donors or what the Charity Commission should expect.

Sadly, this once important charity has been captured by activists and celebrity supporters, who are hell-bent on igniting a culture war by fighting against country traditions. Untruths are told and science is ignored to further their agendas. We have appeased them for too long. If it is war these activists want, then we must all step up to the plate. We countryfolk have been pushed beyond our limits.

Nowhere has this been clearer than in our uplands. These unique, World Heritage-level treasures of wildlife habitat are open to visitors around the globe with rare species and a special gentle way of life. But the RSPB has chosen to target relentlessly the communities who have lived and worked there for generations.

The RSPB's vision for our uplands is one in which they are largely left unmanaged by humans. Its dream has been tried and tested again and again, and always shown to fail. Just look what happened at Lake Vyrnwy. The birds they want to protect are predated out of existence. The vegetation and habitat is neglected and the bugs and smaller creatures that feed our feathered friends simply die.

There has been an outcry recently about controlled burning on heather moorland, but what the RSPB don't tell you is that the worst wildfires experienced in the UK have been on land that THEY own or manage.

The links between the RSPB and the more radical elements of the Labour party are clear to see. The RSPB's lobbying team is run by Adam Barnett, a former Labour party staffer who ran the office of former shadow Defra secretary Kerry McCarthy MP. McCarthy, a vegan and vice-President of the League Against Cruel Sports, demonstrated her lack of knowledge in Parliament this year when she declared that grouse, a wild bird, were "imported into the UK in their millions."

This level of ignorance would be laughable if she were not in such an influential position and continuing to work with Packham and the RSPB to push the RSPB agenda against the countryside.

It is not just wildlife and biodiversity that will suffer if the RSPB was to have its way. It will be the local people and communities who get his the hardest, The fact is that country sports are part of the ancient fabric of the British countryside. You don't have to participate in them to recognise that. Hundreds of thousands of people benefit from country sports and pursuits.

Friends, although we have many voices and accents, we need to get a shift on, engage our opponents and work together. We have strength in numbers."

This is an abbreviated version of the original article. To read Ian Botham's full article please buy a copy of this month's Field.

Or, for anyone still looking for a Christmas gift for people who are not already subscribed to the Field, then take advantage of a current 36% subscription discount offer.


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