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Lord Botham stands up for the countryside and ordinary rural folk

Cricketing legend and national icon, Sir Ian Botham, who now sits in the House of Lords, has won widespread plaudits across the countryside after standing up for the hardworking rural communities in a strongly worded article in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph.

After being asked what he will prioritise in his role in the House of Lords, he responded ‘I want to speak up for the ordinary folk like me who were born and raised in and around rural Britain and who in many cases still owe it their livelihood and quality of life.’

It is these rural folk, many of whom are simply trying to make a living, who continue to be the subject of widespread hostility from often ill-informed activists and agenda driven campaigns from the likes of the millionaire BBC presenter, Chris Packham, Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery.

Lord Botham however saves his best cover drive for the RSPB who, under the leadership of its new CEO, Beccy Speight, and its multi-millionaire Chairman, Kevin Cox, have launched relentless attacks on rural communities. These attacks continue to jeopardise the livelihoods and mental health of many women and men living and working in the countryside. Unsurprisingly Cox doesn't have to worry too much about money having sold his company, Origin Publishing to the BBC for £10.2 million in 2004.

[RSPB's millionaire Chairman, Kevin Cox, seems not to care about the livelihoods rural folk]

Under the veneer of charitable credibility, the RSPB have galvanised supporters into a ‘campaign of intimidation’ against gamekeepers. It is unsurprising that only last week it was revealed in a Scottish Government Study that that 64% of Scottish gamekeepers have experienced abuse by animal rights extremists.

As Lord Botham outlines in his article, the RSPB hates these folk. He is absolutely right in his description of the RSPB and its agenda under Speight’s leadership.

He says: “The RSPB relentlessly campaigns against the people who do the real work of managing nature and looking after the well-being of many endangered birds – farmers and gamekeepers. The RSPB seems to hate these folk. These are the men and women who rise before dawn and spend most of their working hours outside in woods and fields and moors trying to improve the countryside habitat. Want to talk about biodiversity? No end of studies have shown that their labours improve woodland, increase the number of bird and animal species and add to plant growth.

Gamekeepers work on shoots, of course. But putting out seed for pheasants gives our farmland birds – yellowhammers, lapwing and corn buntings – their winter feasts, without which we won’t be seeing them again. Gamekeepers and farmers do the woodland management that stops the canopy of branches closing in. Without that thinning, the light struggles to reach the ground. And so die the shrubs and bushes – the homes of our woodland birds and butterflies.

I don’t actually think most of my urban friends know all this. But ask anyone in the country pub or down the post office and they will tell you.

Ranged against these country folk are a handful of grim eco-warriors led by the RSPB and the likes of the BBC’s Chris Packham. Packham was “delighted” when he managed to get farmers banned from shooting crows and wood pigeons during last year’s breeding season. Crows love nothing better than to peck out the eyes of newborn lambs. Did you know that? I’ve seen it. Pigeons love to eat the seeds of the new crop. Farmers had to stand by helplessly as their sheep were attacked and the crops plundered. The corvids also like nothing better than to attack and kill the songbirds which normal RSPB members – like the rest of us – love to see outside the kitchen door on the bird table.”

One reader commenting on the article summed up what many of us think: “Thank you, Sir Ian, for standing up for the countryside. It is not just a weekend theme park for townies, but a place where people live and work. Farmers have managed the land for centuries: their livelihoods depend on it. “I am sick of people like the BBC’s Chris Packham using their public profile to set a private agenda. Farmers have to control pests. This includes rats, crows, pigeons, foxes and rabbit.”

Another reader said:

“Hear! Hear! and thank you Sir Ian for having the guts to step in and try and stop the egotistical ambitions of a deceitful hypocrite and the deceitful charity he is now using as his mouth-piece.

The quiet modest people of the countryside who get on with their lives looking after mother nature and take a lot to be stirred need this intervention and support before there way of life is destroyed and our hedgerows and copses become deserted of fowl and beast once again because a bunch city dwellers are so stupid themselves they are lured into following pied piper Packham.

There are millions on your side Beefy and they will rise with you.”

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