01
Sep
16

SSPCA consultation: another year rolls by

sspca logoTwo years ago today saw the closure of the Scottish Government’s public consultation on increasing the SSPCA’s investigatory powers in relation to wildlife crime investigations, and particularly in relation to raptor persecution.

We’ve been told, repeatedly, by successive Environment Ministers that tackling raptor persecution is a Scottish Government ‘key priority’. It’s now been five and a half years since the notion of a public consultation on increasing the SSPCA’s powers was first mooted (ironically, mooted by Roseanna Cunningham in her former role as Environment Minister). Five and a half years of dragging the Government kicking and screaming towards what should be an obvious and easy next step in the fight against the raptor killers. And yet, five and a half years on, still we wait for a decision.

Here’s how the Scottish Government has handled this particular ‘key priority’ –

February 2011: Increased powers for the SSPCA was first suggested by former MSP Peter Peacock as an amendment during the WANE Bill debates. The then Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham rejected it as an amendment but suggested a public consultation was in order.

September 2011: Seven months later MSP Elaine Murray lodged a parliamentary motion that further powers for the SSPCA should be considered.

November 2011: Elaine Murray MSP formalised the question in a P&Q session and the next Environment Minister, Stewart Stevenson MSP, then promised that the consultation would happen ‘in the first half of 2012’.

September 2012: Nine months later and nothing had happened so we asked Paul Wheelhouse MSP, as the new Environment Minister, when the consultation would take place. The response, in October 2012, was:

The consultation has been delayed by resource pressures but will be brought forward in the near future”.

July 2013: Ten months later and still no sign so we asked the Environment Minister (still Paul Wheelhouse) again. In August 2013, this was the response:

We regret that resource pressures did further delay the public consultation on the extension of SSPCA powers. However, I can confirm that the consultation document will be published later this year”.

September 2013: At a meeting of the PAW Executive Group, Wheelhouse said this:

The consultation on new powers for the SSPCA will be published in October 2013“.

January 2014: In response to one of our blog readers who wrote to the Minister (still Paul Wheelhouse) to ask why the consultation had not yet been published:

We very much regret that resource pressures have caused further delays to the consultation to gain views on the extension of SSPCA powers. It will be published in the near future“.

31 March 2014: Public consultation launched.

1 September 2014: Consultation closed.

22 January 2015: Analysis of consultation responses published by Scottish Government. 233 responses (although 7,256 responses if online petition included – see here).

We were told a decision would come from the new Environment Minister, Dr Aileen McLeod MSP, “in due course”.

1 September 2015: One year after the consultation closed and still nothing.

25 February 2016: In response to a question posed by the Rural Affairs, Climate Change & Environment Committee, Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod said: “I have some further matters to clarify with the SSPCA, however I do hope to be able to report on the Scottish Government’s position on this issue shortly“.

May 2016: Dr Aileen McLeod fails to get re-elected and loses her position as Environment Minister. Roseanna Cunningham is promoted to a newly-created position of Cabinet Secretary for the Environment.

12 May 2016: Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell submits the following Parliamentary question:

Question S5W-00030 – To ask the Scottish Government when it will announce its decision regarding extending the powers of the Scottish SPCA to tackle wildlife crime.

26 May 2016: Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham responds with this:

A decision on whether to extend the investigatory powers of the Scottish SPCA will be announced in due course.

1 September 2016: Two years after the consultation closed and still nothing.

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30 Responses to “SSPCA consultation: another year rolls by”


  1. 1 Chris Roberts
    September 1, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    The same can be said of the ‘Beaver Trial’. Unfortunately the SNP only have one goal in life – and that doesn’t seem to include tackling wildlife crime.

  2. 2 jovk tamsin
    September 1, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    SNP inability to grant sspca increased powers shows that they are not able to stand up to the land owners and the shooting industry.

    Similarities can be seen in America and gun crime and politicians unable to Rusk votes by upsetting the gun industry.

    Enforcement does make a difference and does send out a message that if you commit crime you can be caught and punished as well as helping to quantify the extent of the problem.

    The police very obviously need help and extra resources in this area.

    Come on SNP wildlife crime is fast becoming an albatross are your neck.

  3. 3 Stewart Love
    September 1, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    I am getting really annoyed with the SNP on their attitude to all things to do with nature and wildlife. I have been an SNP voter since I was 18, I am now 67. If the SNP don’t get their act together and start doing something to stop wildlife crime then I am afraid that they won’t be able to count on my vote in the future. O.k. I vote won’t worry them but I know of a few other voters who feel the same way. Most of my friends are either Birdwatchers / Hillwalkers or outdoor people of some kind. They take a very close interest in Raptor Persecution. If you duplicate this across the country then I would suggest to the SNP that they could be in danger of losing a lot of voters who feel the same way. So come on SNP get the finger out, increase the SSPCA powers and who knows you could secure some more voters for your party.

  4. 4 Peter
    September 1, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    When you look at the SNP’s historic record as far as wildlife is concerned it is worse than dreadful. Remember Alex and his pal Donald trump destroying an SSSI. Do you really expect them to change?

    • 5 Marco McGinty
      September 1, 2016 at 11:18 pm

      I think the SNP could be doing far better, but it is important to stick to the facts, one of which is that slightly more progress has been made under the SNP.

      Another point worth mentioning, and this all boils down to the shocking state of our mainstream media that blights our lives on a daily basis, and their meticulous efforts to allow downright falsehoods to go unchallenged, is that the whole Donald Trump/Menie fiasco had nothing to do with Alex Salmond or the SNP.

      It was in fact Jack McConnell and the Labour-led coalition that were in power at the time of Trump’s application, and they could easily have stopped it at the time. Furthermore, another lie that is frequently spouted by unionist politicians and media, is the one that Alex Salmond granted Trump status as a Global Scot. This, of course, is utter nonsense, as again it was Jack McConnell and the Labour-led coalition that came up with the idea that Donald Trump should be honoured.

      https://archive.is/UDBq2
      http://wingsoverscotland.com/a-bad-case-of-the-dts/

  5. 6 Sylvia
    September 1, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    The SNP are only concerned about one thing, and that is to further Independence for Scotland and look after their own pockets. They are not interested in wildlife despite the fact that it brings in a substantial amount of money to the Scottish economy. If they keep on the way they are going they will not have any tourists as Scotland will not have any wildlife to attract them, but then again the SNP does not care about that, only their own pockets.

    • 7 Marco McGinty
      September 1, 2016 at 11:34 pm

      Sylvia, as I have mentioned in my response to Peter (above), since the SNP took control of the Scottish Parliament, legislation in Scotland is now stronger than anywhere else in the UK, and there is the potential for even stronger legislation. Things could be much better, but you have to bear in mind that the SNP has only been in power for nine years.

      I fully support the idea that Scotland should be an independent country, indeed it is quite a normal thing for many people throughout the world.

      Of course, we could all give up on independence, heck, we could even give up on the devolved parliament, and return to the good old days of total Tory rule.

      Let’s recap on what that has happened since May 2015 – the attempt to repeal the fox hunting ban, the escalation of badger culls, the beginning of raptor culls, etc., etc. How has that worked out for the wildlife?

  6. 8 Dylanben
    September 1, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Do we know what the Police view is on the SSPCA having investigatory powers? Are they in favour?

  7. 10 Jack Snipe
    September 2, 2016 at 3:58 am

    Wildlife legislation introduced by the SNP comes nowhere near the contribution made by their predecessors in the Scottish Parliament, but this is not a party political point. Legislation means next to nothing if it is not supported by hard cash, and that is really where the SNP has let us down. Funding for biodiversity projects has been taken away from local authorities, and agri-environment grants are now controlled by Forestry Commission Scotland, I believe as another step towards a further austerity measure to merge FCS with Scottish Natural Heritage. The merging of the Deer Commission into the latter has already generated a “Scotland’s Natural Larder” culture, which encourages us to eat contaminated Red Grouse for starters, and support the efforts of Scottish Gamekeepers as noble “guardians of the countryside,” generating inward investment when really the only winners are grouse shooters and offshore global capitalist speculators. A certain faction of the “rewilding” movement is also seizing upon the SNH shift towards a pretend sustainable society, where we’re all expected to buy a gun, bow and arrows or spear to go out killing deer, and put the commercial protein production market out of business. The process is going in the wrong direction at present. It’s all connected with the SNP’s hidden austerity agenda, so eloquently described by Jeremy Corbyn MP in his speech last weekend. The potential burden of providing sufficient supplementary funding to SSPCA to take over part of the Government’s statutory policing role is presumably one inhibiting factor, along with lobbying by the rich and powerful grouse shooting interests. To have any chance of banning grouse shooting, we need to work harder to generate a new culture of respect for nature from primary to further education level (which I’d suggest even the RSPB is merely dabbling in), AND an understanding of the many political and economic factors which make this difficult at present. We need proper democracy, built upon the solid foundation of a compassionate, respectful and fair society.

    • 11 jock tamsin
      September 2, 2016 at 8:25 am

      Jack. There has never been any suggestion that the government will have to contribute financially should the grant the sspca increased powers

      This is one of the things that should make it attractive and a no brainer…..its free.

      Money is not an issue here politics is main issue.

      I watched the news last night and there will be a lot of people outraged by the illegal killing and potential for extinction of the elephant. There is no difference to what is happening in this country to eagles,harriers, goshawks, wildcat and beaver…….

      • 12 Jack Snipe
        September 2, 2016 at 2:21 pm

        So where is the huge amount of extra budget required going to come from? I can’t see SSPCA sourcing it from their own funds. So far this appears to be the elephant in the room.

        • 13 jovk tamsin
          September 2, 2016 at 3:59 pm

          The sspca are already doing wildlife crime investigations have a look on line at their many successes publisised

          Increasing sspca powers will not require huge additional funding. The organisations already has staff covering the entire length of Scotland.

          • 14 Jack Snipe
            September 3, 2016 at 8:46 pm

            And what proportion of these staff are sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting for a decision to be made? Your proposition that extra staff and a very considerable amount of extra time will not be required, to deal with what is an enormous task currently being under-performed by the police service, does not bear financial scrutiny. Time will tell. I believe it would be more fruitful to campaign for more efficient policing. Even with the SSPCA performing the role, we’d still be faced with unsympathetic sentencing and the bias shown by the legal system in favour of the shooting business. It’s beginning to look increasingly likely that they are already pulling the strings behind the scenes concerning this matter. In fact I know for certain that lobbying to ease the law on raptor control is still continuing apace.

    • 15 Marco McGinty
      September 2, 2016 at 11:28 pm

      “Wildlife legislation introduced by the SNP comes nowhere near the contribution made by their predecessors in the Scottish Parliament, but this is not a party political point.”

      I don’t think anyone mentioned as such, Jack. Some progress has been made, perhaps not enough, but progress nonetheless.

      “Legislation means next to nothing if it is not supported by hard cash, and that is really where the SNP has let us down. Funding for biodiversity projects has been taken away from local authorities”

      We’ve been through this before, and it’s clear that we will never come to any form of agreement on the matter, but it is important to remember that during the Labour-led coalition spell in Scotland, the block grant doubled during that time, with year on year increases (incidentally under a UK Labour Government), however as soon as the SNP gained control in Scotland, the Labour Party cut the block grant. Since then, with the exception of a single year, the block grant has suffered actual and real-term cuts on an annual basis. Labour had money to throw at things, the SNP has never had such a luxury, so cuts have to be made somewhere.

      “The merging of the Deer Commission into the latter has already generated a “Scotland’s Natural Larder” culture, which encourages us to eat contaminated Red Grouse for starters, and support the efforts of Scottish Gamekeepers as noble “guardians of the countryside,” generating inward investment when really the only winners are grouse shooters and offshore global capitalist speculators.”

      I can’t really disagree with any of that.

      “It’s all connected with the SNP’s hidden austerity agenda, so eloquently described by Jeremy Corbyn MP in his speech last weekend.”

      I don’t think there is a hidden austerity agenda. At times, Jeremy Corbyn talks some sense, but there are other times, especially in relation to Scotland, when he simply doesn’t have a clue. Jeremy Corbyn has been spouting this same SNP austerity message for a year now, which doesn’t necessarily mean it is true. It’s all being done in an attempt to win back Labour voters in Scotland, and to try and damage the SNP (a potential ally at Westminster), but just like his predecessor, I have a feeling he would prefer a Tory Government than any sort of coalition with the SNP. That is a major problem in itself, and is somewhat damaging to his otherwise left-wing stance. It is also an utterly pointless exercise, as he should be trying to woo the disenfranchised electorate, as well as any left-leaning voter in England and Wales, where the result of most general elections are decided. The people of Scotland have had enough of the Labour Party, certainly for the foreseeable future, so as far as Westminster and his dream of becoming PM, he should keep his energies for campaigning where it matters most, and that is certainly not Scotland.

      In the 2015 General Election, the frequent message from Labour supporters was that support for the SNP allowed the Tories in, failing to ignore the fact that if every Scottish seat had went to Labour, they would still have fallen well short. In fact, that year’s GE result was able to prove that it didn’t matter how Scotland voted (much like the EU Referendum), our votes simply don’t count for anything.

      • 16 Jack Snipe
        September 3, 2016 at 9:06 pm

        Marco, so what are you suggesting, as participants in a democratic society, we should do about the failings of the current Scottish Government? Just ignore them, for fear of being accused of “SNP bashing”? Yet again you dispute my comments about nature conservation and biodiversity budgets, but apart from describing the block grant changes, what real evidence do you actually have that I’m wrong? If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who works in Local Government or SNH. Most grants available for agri-environment schemes are now under the control of the Forestry Commission Scotland, which treats them with less flexibility than when under more democratic and local control, focusing largely on tree planting, much of which is damaging already existing habitats. I worked for forty years at the sharp end in nature conservation, and I can assure you the general situation regarding budgets has had more than its fair share of austerity since SNP took over as the Scottish Government. Can you really show otherwise, without apparently any detailed knowledge of the situation? I’m not going to respond to any further correspondence on this, as it became far too unpleasant and personal on previous occasions. For your information, my criticism would be equally harsh were Labour still in power at Holyrood, and I don’t honestly believe they would be any better than the SNP.

        • 17 Marco McGinty
          September 4, 2016 at 1:30 am

          Come on, Jack, I’m not saying that we ignore the failings of the SNP, I’m perfectly happy to criticise them when appropriate, but on reading many of the comments on this thread, you would honestly believe that prior to the SNP gaining power, raptor persecution was on the verge of being eradicated. We all know that is far from the truth, and all I have done is point out that legislation has been increased since 2007, and is now stronger here than anywhere else in the UK, yet some commentators, it would appear, are extremely unhappy at any form of progress. It has been incredibly slow at times (perhaps the Scottish Government would like to eliminate any potential loopholes?), but progress is progress, and we shouldn’t discount it.

          Jack, you’ve misinterpreted my statement. I was not suggesting that you were wrong in relation to conservation and biodiversity budgets, or disagreeing with you in any way, I was simply pointing out the fact that when the UK basically cuts our national budget on an annual basis, then some things have to be sacrificed. It’s far from an ideal situation, but like it or not, we have to face facts that as far as the general population are concerned, conservation will rank very low in their priorities, therefore conservation will be one of those areas where money will be cut. This leads to budgetary constraints, or streamlining in some cases in an effort to save money. You may consider this as a SNP-led austerity agenda, but I see it as a party having to deal with savage, annual cuts from a UK government hell bent on punishing the people of Scotland.

          Of course, if we weren’t haemorrhaging money to subsidise National Infrastructure Plan projects throughout England, or the utterly pointless and tremendous waste of money that is Trident (and its successor), and we were in a position to control all of our own revenue potential, then things might be different. However, unless a unionist party regains control at Holyrood, which is unlikely in the near future, we will be in for further cuts, every single damned year, so we’ll just have to get used to it.

          If our host allows, I’ll just leave these here for people to peruse. They are eye-opening articles, and gives us an idea of what could be, or what could have been.
          http://wingsoverscotland.com/the-pooling-and-the-sharing/
          http://wingsoverscotland.com/junkies-tramps-and-thieves/

  8. 18 I C T
    September 2, 2016 at 8:31 am

    In response to some comments above, the bottom line is that since SNP took control of the Scottish Parliament they have not been effective at curbing raptor persecution.

    • 19 Marco McGinty
      September 2, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      I don’t think anyone is disputing that point, but as previously mentioned, they’ve been in power for a relatively very short time, and in that time they have furthered increased the legislation, something which no other party seemed interested in doing. Enforcing the issues, of course, is a different matter.

      Yes, they should be doing better, however I do find this constant SNP-bashing both laughable and tiresome. So on that note, and this question is open to everyone, would someone care to explain what effective contributions the unionist parties have made to curb raptor persecution? They’ve had decades to sort things out, yet we’re still dealing with the same issues from more than a century ago.

      • September 3, 2016 at 9:50 am

        The comparison with the UK is a very poor yardstick we should be comparing with other EU countries. I am critical because i had high hopes, i am comparing with what very easily could be. This RPUK post describes the lamentable pace of the SNP political machine concerning wildlife but as posted in other RPUK pages it doesn’t have to be. I can’t remember the issue but RPUK compared the SSPCA decision with another and it was like the hare and the tortoise (the tortoise still hasn’t got out of the gate). Licensing at least is really a no-brainer. I still want independence but i’m not going to vote SNP again until they show a lot more chutzpah.

        • 21 Marco McGinty
          September 3, 2016 at 2:19 pm

          It may be a poor yardstick in comparison to other countries, but in this instance I considered it a valid point because the statement from ICT was clearly critical of the SNP, as though previous administrations in both parliaments were on the verge of eradicating raptor persecution.

          I’ve criticised the SNP many times on here, and I have admitted that they are painfully slow in their implementation, but people have to remember that they’ve had nine years to sort out a very long-standing problem, a problem that no other party seemed interested in doing.

          • September 4, 2016 at 10:58 am

            Macro you wrote ‘ So on that note, and this question is open to everyone, would someone care to explain what effective contributions the unionist parties have made to curb raptor persecution?’

            I consider the response by Labour to the forthcoming debate (surely there must be one) a hundred times better than the SNP’s response (and why exclude non-unionists like the Scottish Greens). Of course Labour aren’t in power but they show what could be. The SNP in every response i have ever had from them, and there have been many, reply as though i am just a nuisance and should just go away and trust that they know better. Remind you of any other party?
            I am sure the SNP are good for Scotland in numerous ways but i am primarily concerned with the environment and secondly social issues. Strangely the SNP haven’t even cottoned on to grouse moors being a social injustice issue. As far as i can recall they have never even mentioned that this issue is related to wealth and influence and the injustice and political decisions which follows. Remind you of anyone?
            see
            http://markavery.info/2016/08/26/pm/
            and original
            ‘The government I lead will be driven, not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives.When we take the big calls, we will think not of the powerful but you. When we pass new laws, we will listen not to the mighty but to you. ‘

            • 23 Marco McGinty
              September 5, 2016 at 2:00 am

              “I consider the response by Labour to the forthcoming debate (surely there must be one) a hundred times better than the SNP’s response (and why exclude non-unionists like the Scottish Greens).”

              And therein lies the problem. When a party is in opposition, they can make the most extravagant of promises, knowing full well that they won’t be in a position to implement them. The Labour Party is in no position to offer anything at the moment, because there’s not a hope in hell that they will any General or Scottish election for years to come, however if they did have some valid ideas, then they should be adopted.

              In relation to the Scottish Greens, I excluded them from my comment mainly because they have never been in power, and their influence up to now, unfortunately, has been minimal.

              “Of course Labour aren’t in power but they show what could be.”

              No, it doesn’t. The Labour Party has had many spells when they were in control of the UK, most recently from 1997 to 2010. Did they manage to end raptor persecution? No, they didn’t even come close. The Labour Party was in control in Scotland from 1999 to 2007. Did they manage to end raptor persecution here in that time? No, they didn’t even come close.

              If the Labour Party was serious about ending raptor persecution, then they had ample time to achieve this in their most recent spells in charge. They chose not to, so what makes you, or anyone else for that matter, believe they would act differently in the future?

              “The SNP in every response i have ever had from them, and there have been many, reply as though i am just a nuisance and should just go away and trust that they know better. Remind you of any other party?”

              Yes, they remind me of every other political party in existence, but also of every company or organisation that exists. You will find this to be the case with the RSPB, HOT, Wildlife Trusts, SGA, NGO, GWCT, M&S, the Police, the BBC – in fact more or less every organisation that has ever been mentioned in the history of this blog, will operate in exactly the same manner. They don’t like criticism, and if they can get away with it, they will fob you off with a feeble response. It’s nothing new, and will probably never change, which is why I sometimes consider a boycott to be a more satisfactory form of protest.

              “Strangely the SNP haven’t even cottoned on to grouse moors being a social injustice issue. As far as i can recall they have never even mentioned that this issue is related to wealth and influence and the injustice and political decisions which follows”

              What about the Land Reform Act? Doesn’t this Act tackle some of the issues you highlight?

              • September 5, 2016 at 11:52 am

                Macro you wrote ‘ [Labour] chose not to, so what makes you, or anyone else for that matter, believe they would act differently in the future?’
                Well there have been some changes in the Labour party recently.

                You wrote ‘Yes, they remind me of every other political party in existence’
                But that was my point the Labour and Green statement were one hundred times better. than the SNP.

                I know very little about the Land Reform Act but what has it done for raptor crime?

                I am still waiting for my reply from Brendan O’Hara MP on the debate, so far aftre 2 weeks he hasn’t even bothered to reply. Perhaps that is good sign and he is writing a proper reply.

                I have voted once in my life, for the SNP at the last election, because i have refused to vote for the better of two evils. SNP are slowly drifting into that option and if so will lose my vote.

                I have written to three Scottish environmental ministers on ratpr crime, none have given any indication that they know the subject or are willing to get dirty in solving it. The most recent reply even told me that I couldn’t expect them to keep informed and that they had to rely on advisers. I asked via FOI who those advisers are and my request was refused. So we have no idea who is making these decisions. It could be GWCT for all i know and is SNH any better. Either way we have unelected people with the real power.
                When Paul Wheelhouse spoke on the radio that only ‘1 or 2 estates’ were involved in raptor crime (as covered in this blog), i wrote to the minister. Karen Hunter, who i think may be the Sir Humphrey in this comedy, gave me the full run around but after numerous e-mails finally admitted that the minister was using a ‘figure of speech’. Right so lying on radio is OK by an SNP minister as long as it is a figure of speech. With the Gift of Grouse campaign i rest my case.
                They just don’t inspire confidence. The appointment of the previous minister surely demonstrated that Nicola Sturgeon didn’t want a strong person in charge of the environment. That may have changed with Cunningham we have to play the SNP waiting game to find out.

                Nine years is along time.

                I presume you read this post by RPUK. Does this look like a party in a hurry?
                https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/review-of-scottish-raptor-satellite-tag-data-widened-to-three-species/

                SNP have done a lot compared to the UK but everything is relative. I want to see an end to raptor crime sooner rather than later, i prefer to compare with Spain.
                https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/another-powerful-deterrent-sentence-in-spanish-raptor-poisoning-case/

                • September 5, 2016 at 7:42 pm

                  Sorry, should read Marco (amongst other typos).

                • 26 Marco McGinty
                  September 6, 2016 at 12:39 am

                  “Well there have been some changes in the Labour party recently.”

                  Yes, there has been a few changes, many of them negative in the extreme. A takeover bid by right-wing members, completely ignoring the wishes of its elected members, is not going to end well. Of course, Corbyn’s overall stance is a positive one, providing he can reach the disenfranchised millions, but I have a feeling that after the leadership election, the party will tear itself apart, and the Labour Party as we know it, will no longer exist. It’s clear that the right-wing element will never support Corbyn as leader, so a period of uncertainty lies ahead.

                  “But that was my point the Labour and Green statement were one hundred times better. than the SNP.”

                  And that was my point. If you are not in a position of power, and therefore incapable of implementing your vision, you can promise what you want. This seems to be a recurring tactic with Labour in Scotland – they criticise the SNP for not doing so well on this subject, or that, forgetting to remember that they themselves completely failed in these areas when they held power.

                  “I know very little about the Land Reform Act but what has it done for raptor crime?”

                  Very little so far, however the Act was only passed in March of this year, so I am prepared to give it more time.

                  “I have written to three Scottish environmental ministers on raptor crime, none have given any indication that they know the subject or are willing to get dirty in solving it.”

                  So, it has only been SNP environment ministers that you have contacted in relation to raptor crime? May I ask why you didn’t write to any of the Labour ministers?

                  “When Paul Wheelhouse spoke on the radio that only ‘1 or 2 estates’ were involved in raptor crime (as covered in this blog), I wrote to the minister. Karen Hunter, who I think may be the Sir Humphrey in this comedy, gave me the full run around but after numerous e-mails finally admitted that the minister was using a ‘figure of speech’. Right so lying on radio is OK by an SNP minister as long as it is a figure of speech. With the Gift of Grouse campaign I rest my case.”

                  No, it’s not OK to lie, but it seems to be the done thing where political parties are concerned. As for the Gift of Grouse campaign, it wasn’t the SNPs doing. One brainwashed SNP MSP may have been responsible for hosting an event, but it can’t be attributed to the party as a whole.

                  “They just don’t inspire confidence. The appointment of the previous minister surely demonstrated that Nicola Sturgeon didn’t want a strong person in charge of the environment. That may have changed with Cunningham we have to play the SNP waiting game to find out.”

                  Or perhaps Sturgeon just made a mistake in appointing Aileen McLeod. I’m quite sure that Jeremy Corbyn now regrets many of his Shadow Cabinet appointments.

                  “Nine years is along time.”

                  In the lifetime of a human being, it is a considerable period, but as previously mentioned, the Scottish Parliament was in existence for a very similar timeframe before the SNP gained power. Labour didn’t come close to eradicating the problem then. Furthermore, Labour, Conservative and LibDems all have had ample opportunity to end raptor persecution in the UK, and they haven’t achieved it in more than 60 years of cumulative control.

                  “I presume you read this post by RPUK. Does this look like a party in a hurry?”

                  Yes, I did, and it is somewhat disappointing that things are taking so long, however if you look at all of the reports, not all of them were the sole responsibility of the SNP administration. As mentioned in another comment, governments do see wildlife as a priority, so perhaps this is one reason why things take so long. I myself disagree with such vision, but unfortunately that is the situation. Then again, once things start to encroach on the timescales of Bloody Sunday, Hillsborough or Chilcot, then I suppose we really would have a valid complaint.

                  “SNP have done a lot compared to the UK but everything is relative. I want to see an end to raptor crime sooner rather than later, I prefer to compare with Spain.”

                  And so do I, I just don’t see it happening any time soon with Labour, and it’s certainly never going to happen with the Tories. All we can hope for is that the SNP eventually pull all of this together, and start to make a real effort in combatting the cancerous scourge that afflicts our countryside.

                  • September 6, 2016 at 10:45 am

                    Marco. Most if not all of your points come down to the better of 2 evils category.
                    Maybe ‘9 years is not In the lifetime of a human being, it is a considerable period’
                    Except i don’t have many of those periods left.

                    • 28 Marco McGinty
                      September 6, 2016 at 4:32 pm

                      I suppose it does come down to the lesser of two evils at the moment, certainly between the SNP and Labour, however there is no prospect of Labour regaining power in the near future, so we have to work with what we have. With the SNP losing their majority this year, the influence from the Scottish Greens could be very important.

                      Perhaps some stability with the post of Environment Minister could be beneficial to our cause, especially if we have a Minister with left-leaning credentials, but time will tell.

                      I’m not exactly a youngster myself, so I would love to see some real change in the time I have left, but as I have tried to point out, this has been a decades-long problem that no party has successfully tackled, and there is no real quick fix.

  9. September 2, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    There is only one group of people who have anything to fear from the SSPCA getting more powers..and thats wildlife criminals and their apologists. SNP are in charge at present and should do the right thing, immediately…but where are the other parties who you would expect to be clamoring for this and using the SNPs lack of action as a political weapon?…None of our politicians appear to have the guts to stand up to the criminal power of the shooting lobby.


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