Is Chris Packham always right?
With a new television programme out on Friday about his love of punk rock, BBC presenter and ‘naturalist’ Chris Packham has been giving interviews, including one with The Times Art section yesterday. But rather than begin by talking about punk rock, the article starts at an event in Perth, where 150 members of the local community had gathered to protest about Packham’s various campaigns to ban grouse shooting and – at the same time – destroy the moorland communities. Packham’s response? “If I get criticised or vilified, so what?... I’m right, they’re wrong.” He adds: “The talk in Perth started at 7.30, but the protesters turned up at 5 and by 5.30 they had gone, which means they had no intention of confronting me.”
That would be all very well, if it were true. But talking to some of those who attended the protest, they confirmed that they met at 6pm and were at the venue at 6.30 ready to talk to Packham if he were willing to do so.
I’m not sure, thought, that what the protestors in Perth wanted to do was to instigate a “confrontation” with Packham. What they wanted was to know that their views and thoughts were being considered. That Packham realises that their lives and livelihoods are at risk of being destroyed by his campaign to ban driven grouse shooting, And that his refusal to accept that grouse shooting funds the management of the moors – a unique environment which provides a home for many rare and endangered species – could destroy the UK’s heather moorlands entirely.
But beyond nitpicking around the facts of one particular evening, it’s interesting to see Packham’s very black and white view of the world so clearly expressed. “I’m right, they’re wrong”, he says. There’s no room for debate; he clearly doesn’t want to listen to anyone who disagrees with him, or might have data or facts that go against his mindset. It's both very revealing – and at the same time, saddening. Because what we learn that Packham simply isn't willing to listen to the science or the economics of the issue. Remember that. "I’m right, they’re wrong"; and that's that.