Environment Committee brings licensing for driven grouse shooting one step closer

It’s not often we can report good news on this blog but today is one of those rare occasions.

This morning the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee considered various options for progressing the Scottish Raptor Study Group’s petition calling for the introduction of a licensing scheme for game bird hunting.

In short, the Committee has agreed to keep this petition open and will be writing to the Environment Cabinet Secretary to recommend that the Scottish Government further explores, with stakeholders, the implementation of a licensing regime for driven grouse shooting.

This is fantastic and very welcome news!

Grouse shooting butt, photo by RPUK

The video archive can be viewed here (starts at 1:04:05).

The official transcript of proceedings can be read here: ECCLR Committee transcript_23May2017

For now, here’s a brief summary of what happened.

As we blogged earlier, the Committee had three options on the table (see here). Briefly, these were (1) to close the petition and do nothing more; (2) recommend that the Scottish Government explores a licensing system and the feasibility of a trial scheme; and (3) do something else, which in this case was to consider maintaining the status quo as recommended by the game shooting industry.

The following MSPs delivered their thoughts on this petition prior to the vote:

Kate Forbes (SNP), Alexander Burnett (Conservative), Claudia Beamish (Labour), Mark Ruskell (Greens), Emma Harper (SNP), Angus MacDonald (SNP), Richard Lyle (SNP) and Graeme Dey (SNP).

Maurice Golden (Conservative) and Finlay Carson (Conservative) did not have anything to say. Dave Stewart (Labour) was not present.

Special mention to Claudia Beamish and Mark Ruskell, who both demonstrated a clear grasp of the scale of raptor persecution, the length of time it has been allowed to persist, the need for a civil burden of proof, and a very marked view that voluntary regulation by the game shooting industry has failed to deliver tangible change.

The votes went as follows:

Option 1 (close the petition & do nothing else)

This option was rejected 10 votes to zero.

Option 2 (recommend that Scot Gov further explores, with stakeholders, how a licensing scheme could work and the feasibility of a trial scheme)

For: Kate Forbes (SNP); Claudia Beamish (Labour); Mark Ruskell (Greens); Emma Harper (SNP), Angus MacDonald (SNP); Graeme Dey (SNP).

Against: Alexander Burnett (Conservative); Maurice Golden (Conservative); Finlay Carson (Conservative); Richard Lyle (SNP).

This option was passed with six votes for, and four against.

Option 3 (close the petition & recommend that Scot Gov considers the non-regulatory alternatives put forward by the game shooting industry)

For: Alexander Burnett (Conservative), Maurice Golden (Conservative), Finlay Carson (Conservative), Richard Lyle (SNP).

Against: Claudia Beamish (Labour); Mark Ruskell (Greens); Emma Harper (SNP); Angus MacDonald (SNP); Graeme Dey (SNP).

Abstention: Kate Forbes (SNP)

This option was rejected with four votes for, and five votes against, and one abstention.

So as you can see, the decision to approve Option 2 was certainly not unanimous and it was a pretty tight call, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that this petition is moving in the right direction.

Various members of the Committee wanted to speak before the vote and many of them wanted to put on record their appreciation of petitioner Logan Steele’s evidence-based approach and his calm delivery of that evidence. We would echo that appreciation. As we’ve blogged before, Logan and his fellow petitioner Andrea Hudspeth, have both been subjected to some vile abuse and harassment on social media as a result of presenting this petition to Holyrood and it is to their credit that they refused to be intimidated and remained composed throughout. They deserve recognition for this, and for all the long hours of preparatory work that went in to writing the petition, and we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

So what happens next? Committee Convener Graeme Dey will write to Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, outlining the comments made during today’s discussions and recommending Option 2 – that the Government needs to explore the issue of licensing, particularly with reference to land that is intensively managed for driven grouse shooting. The issues to consider will not be restricted to the illegal killing of raptors, but will also include other issues such mountain hare slaughter and the environmental impact of muirburn practices and the use of high dosage medicated grit.

We’re under no illusion that a licensing regime will solve the problem – we maintain our long-held concerns about the issue of enforcement, particularly brought in to focus with the recent decisions of the Crown Office to drop four prosecutions despite the availability of very clear evidence. However, we also recognise that a licensing regime is a necessary step before a full ban on driven grouse shooting will be considered. If licensing works, then fine. If it doesn’t, a ban will be inevitable.

We don’t know what the timescale for these stakeholder discussions will be, and, going on past experience, this process may take a long time. Somebody commented on an earlier blog that the issue may be kicked in to the long grass and that is certainly a possibility, but we will be doing everything within our power to make sure that doesn’t happen.

And who knows, today’s decision may prove to be a watershed moment for dealing with raptor persecution in Scotland. The Cabinet Secretary has some important decisions to make before the summer recess (30 June 2017), including her decision on increased powers for the SSPCA and her response to the findings of the raptor satellite tag data review.

Public awareness of both the criminality and environmental damage associated with intensive driven grouse moor management has increased massively in recent years and public opinion has been vociferous. This weight of public opinion, combined with today’s decision, may just buckle the fence on which the SNP has been balancing for far too long.

UPDATE 7.30pm: Game-shooting industry issues joint statement on licensing proposals (here)

UPDATE 26 May 2017: Wildlife conservationists issue joint statement on licensing proposals (here)


50 Responses to “Environment Committee brings licensing for driven grouse shooting one step closer”

  1. 1 Tony Dickinson
    May 23, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Wonderful news. Keep up the good work.

  2. 2 Robert Grant
    May 23, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Good work and we can only hope it progresses to halt the continual massacre of our beloved raptors

  3. 3 crypticmirror
    May 23, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Good news indeed. The amount of money and effort that goes into backing the raptor and grouse shooting industry means that even a tight win is a heroic win and a massive step forward even if it is still only just an inch ahead. Now we need to make sure it doesn’t get kicked into the long grass. It is up to each of us [Ed: rest of comment deleted. This is the third time you’ve tried to promote this course of action. If you persist with this message you will be banned]

    • 4 crypticmirror
      May 23, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      With deepest respect, I’m not advocating any violence at all. It is valid form of protest, sending unconventional items along with a protest letter, that has been used to great effect across the pond in the United States. The fans of the American tv show Jericho successfully did so by sending peanuts, loose, in packets, and even large bags, to the production office and US campaign, for example, groups in America have done it with political messages too. The idea is simply that while a piece of paper is easily ignored or forgotten, it is difficult to over look bulky, large, or heavy items arriving into a mailroom or office. It is just something make a message that might otherwise be overlooked in a large mailbag stick in the mind of the recipient. It is not a violent course of action at all. I apologize for my poor taste joke the first time I mentioned it, which may have made it seem so. That was not my intent at all, so I am sorry for that. I do believe that sending a letter accompanying a large or heavy object does help a campaign stick in the mind.

      However, if you still object after reading this explanation I will drop it and never mention it again. Again, I am sorry that my poor joke first time has made it seem something that it is not.

      • May 23, 2017 at 3:32 pm

        Are you for real?

        First you advocate writing a letter to the Cabinet Secretary, wrapping it around a brick, and throwing it through her window. And then you advocate sending bricks to MSPs through the mail.

        Apart from causing criminal damage and using threatening behaviour, just think how the recipient would feel if they received such an item through the post.

        You need to think very carefully before you post any more comments on this site. Better still, just start thinking.

        • 6 Dougie
          May 23, 2017 at 4:56 pm

          Yes, and when people start lobbing bricks about etc., or become shoot saboteurs or the like then they are instantly tarred as headbangers and their case is destroyed forever.
          The Raptor Persecution battle has been well served by the peaceful use of fact and the application of logic.
          The pen is mightier than the sword (or word processor)

        • 7 crypticmirror
          May 23, 2017 at 5:07 pm

          I apologize. I originally meant that as a joke. I should have thought it through, but I didn’t. Again, I am sorry for that. I apologize for causing you problems here over that. I thought that the US tactic of sending memorable items as a campaigning tool would work here, obviously through my own fault that has caused you a problem so I apologize for that too.

  4. May 23, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Kate Forbes voted for option 2 and abstained on option 3. Am i missing something?
    Richard Lyle is why i would vote green if there was a candidate in my area.

    • May 23, 2017 at 2:28 pm

      Forgot to add, brilliant news.

    • May 24, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      It became clear after watching the meeting.
      Kate Forbes seems sincere but she objected to licensing because she claimed it hasn’t stopped wildlife crime in other European countries. That was debunked in the precious meetings. Off the top of my head Spain is the only country which has a major problem with wildlife crime and their strengthened policies are having results.
      She said the main problem was trust. Trust isn’t the problem it is a symptom and she gave no reason or understanding of why that mistrust occurs.

      [Ed: thanks Prasad, slightly edited as we want to avoid personal comments about MSPs]

  5. 11 George M
    May 23, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks to all involved. Good to see that at least one hurdle has been overcome and it is recognised that what has been done to date to stop these crimes has not worked.

  6. 12 sosbaiji
    May 23, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Live and let live.

  7. May 23, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    I find it staggering that in less than 4 days the grousers managed to squeeze their option into the enquiry.
    That is some clout.
    And that it was only narrowly defeated.

    After the failure of their clever, calm, reasonable letter, i wonder how long it will take for them to show their true colours. Imaged of vampire films come to mind.

  8. 14 Bruce Barclay
    May 23, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Great to hear!! I hope this can make a difference and that the education of the public at large will run along side this as I’ve always felt that sometimes banging heads with politicians and sporting estates will not garner change but with the support of the general public hopefully something can change.

  9. May 23, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    This is still clearly only a small step, but it is a step in the right direction. I am full of admiration for those of you who have put together such a well balanced and reasoned argument. It seems that people in positions of some power are starting to see the difference in the way that information is presented by different interested parties. Well done for taking the higher moral ground and sticking to it. Right will prevail in the end I have no doubt. Thank you.

  10. 16 Iain Gibson
    May 23, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Good news, but I still hold the view that if a licensing system is introduced the game industry could end up using it to their advantage, and that achieving prosecutions or sanctions will be even more difficult than at present. I sincerely hope to be proven wrong. One question – I note that only driven grouse shooting is mentioned. Does this mean that the committee has ruled out extending to all game shooting, which I thought was a feature of the petition? I suspect that some grouse shooting estates might convert to walk-up shooting to avoid licensing, and remain puzzled as to why RPUK, RSPB et al think this would lead to any reduction in harrier persecution. My experience suggests otherwise. I wholeheartedly share your appreciation of the efforts made by Andrea and Logan, and the contribution from Duncan Orr-Ewing of RSPB.

    • 17 dave angel
      May 23, 2017 at 7:05 pm

      ‘I note that only driven grouse shooting is mentioned. Does this mean that the committee has ruled out extending to all game shooting,’


      I only saw part of the proceedings, but yes that’s what was proposed. It was on the basis that they thought the bulk of the problem lay with driven grouse moors and they didn’t want to burden the innocent for the sins of the guilty. Given how close the vote was it was probably a realistic approach.

      It will be interesting to see how the non driven grouse sector of the shooting industry react to the proposal.

      • 18 Iain Gibson
        May 26, 2017 at 9:01 pm

        How fascinating to hear that gamekeepers of pheasant and partridge shoots are regarded as “innocent.” They must be kidding!

  11. May 23, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    A huge thank you to SRSG and RSPB! We would all love a big change very quickly…. But I am sure that we can accept small steps….it is progress!

    We should also extend our thanks to Bert and the SGA, without their ill-informed, unsupported wild ranting we would not have had such a clear and successful argument.

  12. May 23, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    This is good news but our raptors and other wildlife can ill-afford more dithering.

  13. May 23, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Well done to all involved.
    Fairly predictable split on political lines of course in the voting.
    Since the industry requires unsustainable & illegal killing of raptors & other predators to function, I am sure that they will continue to shoot themselves in both feet by killing large numbers of tagged raptors & also continuing to affect the ranges of those raptors..
    Though a very sad story that will continue to play out, they will eventually be seen by the wider public as the criminals that they are by providing evidence against themselves.

    Keep up the pressure !

  14. 22 Marco McGinty
    May 23, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Thanks to Andrea, Logan, and Duncan, for taking this on, especially given the scale of abuse they have had to endure, and RPS/RPUK of course, for guiding us through the proceedings, and keeping us updated and informed.

    So yes, another small, but positive, step. Now for the SSPCA to be granted additional powers!

    Considering he hosted the reception for the Gift of Grouse nonsense, I found it noteworthy that Graeme Dey voted for Option 2, and against Options 1 and 3. That was a welcome surprise. Unsurprisingly, the three Conservative members voted against licencing, and clearly in favour of the shooting industry. The desire to inflict pain and suffering on the defenceless, appears to run right through that party.

    • 23 Carole
      May 23, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      Not being a resident in Scotland. I have been impressed with the committee proceedings. I thought Graeme Dey was a fair and efficient chairman. Despite him attending the Gift of Grouse propaganda exercise, he seems to have had an open mind, asked some pertinent questions and, by his voting, shows he has perhaps learnt some of the truth of the damage driven grouse shooting has done. I regard myself as pro-wildlife and with some knowledge of rural issues but until 3 years ago had no idea of the damage that game shoots were inflicting on our environment. So, let’s hope that like me, Graham Day is now more knowledgeable and will use his power to effect a change for the better for our environment.
      So much admiration for the courage and steadfastness of Logan Steele, Andrea Hudspeth, Duncan Orr-Ewing and Ian Thompson, not forgetting RPUK, Mark Avery and many others. Thanks for speaking out for all of us who care about the health of our natural world.

    • 24 Willie S.
      May 23, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      This is, of course, really good news. There will be an awareness now, among MSPs that they will be subjected to lobbying. This often means that they have to be clearer in their views and be prepared to fall on one side or other of the fence. It will be vitally important to consolidate and maintain public opinion so that MSP’s are steered towards doing the “right thing” and aren’t allowed the option of heading for the long grass.

  15. 25 matthew dalby
    May 23, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    Sadly I’m not convinced a licencing system will make much difference on the ground. After all the current law on raptor persecution should be sufficient, but we all know that it is impossible to effectively police the countryside. Even allowing for the lower burden of civil proof how do you prove that estates are guilty of killing raptors. Is one disappearing sat tagged bird proof that an estate is guilty of wildlife crime? Is poisoned bait proof of a crime when it will be claimed by the industry that it was planted by the RSBP?
    I fear that the grouse industry will lobby for so many clauses in the licencing system and mount a legal challenge to any attempt to withdraw a licence that nothing much will be achieved apart from politicians being able to say that they have tackled the problem then forgetting all about it.
    I hope to be proved wrong, but I strongly believe that only a total ban on driven grouse shooting will achieve any real positive change, and a licencing system will just end up allowing politicians to say they have tackled the problem without achieving anything.

    • 26 Andrew
      May 24, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      No reason why the right system could not work. ie.
      Grouse shooting is illegal without a licence
      Conditions of licence:
      Applied for (a) by an entity – company or individual and (b) covering a defined area encompassing the managed land considered to be used for the enablement of shooting with the licensor having a veto on the definition of the area to be covered(reference to historical data being a first guide – muirburn etc.)

      Any successful prosecution of any of the following offences: offence under the wildlife and countryside act, storage or use of banned pesticides etc, illegal traps found on estate (burden of proof on the estate to show they traps or poison were placed by an outside party), land management issues etc etc :
      will result in the immediate revocation of licence for a period of one to ten years. No further licences will be issued to cover any part of the land defined in the revoked licence during said period.

      If you don’t like the terms then don’t apply for a licence.

      End of.

      • 27 Andrew
        May 25, 2017 at 12:19 pm

        If the legislature are considering using the above as a draft you are most welcome :)
        You need to add
        Licence will not be issued or will be revoked where employees or workers have been convicted of said offences.

        • 28 Iain Gibson
          May 25, 2017 at 1:54 pm

          I’m no legal expert but I can’t imagine that standing up in court. Surely all the estate needs to do is agree to sack the convicted criminal and carry on regardless? A good lawyer, which the industry can well afford, should be able to sort that out. I can’t believe the licensing scheme, if it happens, won’t be full of legal loopholes.

          • 29 Andrew
            May 25, 2017 at 6:06 pm

            I don’t think it is an issue for the court. If you agree to the terms of the licence you agree that if you breach the terms, the licence is revoked.
            This is the big advantage of a licence as opposed to the current law which requires “beyond reasonable doubt”

            It just requires the terms of the licence to be good enough.

            The Cabrach Estate video of the shooting of a hen harrier may not meet beyond reasonable doubt but anyone with half a brain is going to agree the xxxxxxxxx [Ed: individual caught on camera] is culpable if only in not reporting a crime. I would put something in a licence to cover a scenario like that.

  16. 30 keen birder
    May 23, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    A licence will not make one jot of difference to anything.

    • 31 Willie S.
      May 24, 2017 at 12:16 am

      The fear of losing a license might though. I think this isn’t just about raptor killing – it’s about easing the traditional control regime on natural habitat – restrictions on burning, with woodland, bog and ponding allowed to develop where it occurs naturally. These issues would be the indicators of change and could be more readily monitored, providing a measure of how seriously the shoots take the licensing system and what they might be prepared to accept to avoid a total ban on driven grouse shooting. It could mean for example that vicarious liability becomes automatic; that hen harrier nests could be monitored where the RSPB deem it necessary; allowing SSPCA officers access to collect evidence; that a ‘keeper convicted under the licensing system on one estate could be restricted from working on any estate with “previous”.
      No doubt licensing will be resisted and legally challenged at every possible opportunity. Success in the courts is all very well, and temporary – they now have to succeed against mounting public opinion against their recent “successes”.
      I have no idea if all estates operate in exactly the same way, but if there are estates that are already law abiding, you would think at least some might see this as the way forward. We could be cynical but the shooting industry so don’t want this licensing to happen. They must recognise this has the potential to bring them into line or you wouldn’t see such resistance on their part – they must recognise that the alternative could be a total ban on driven grouse.

      • 32 Iain Gibson
        May 25, 2017 at 2:29 pm

        Willie, sorry but I think you under-estimate the arrogance and ruthlessness of the grouse shooting estates. I can’t imagine them even worrying about losing their licence, never mind being possessed with fear! The legal hurdles to removing a licence will be very difficult to overcome. We need to focus on getting rid of grouse shooting altogether.

        • 33 Willie S.
          May 25, 2017 at 4:57 pm

          Ian, – But surely this is mainly about driven grouse where all efforts are made to ensure that an unnatural number of grouse are developed for August. That is the reason for ‘keepers over-protecting the grouse, at the expense of just about everything else. There aren’t, as far as I’m aware, quite the same controls in place where walk up shooting is practiced. While you’re for or against other forms of shooting, rough shooting is probably more sustainable where a more realistic number of birds is expected for some physical effort from participants, and although I’m sure there are financial returns it’s not about standing in a gun turret shooting large numbers of birds hurtling towards you. The raptor killings allegedly occur more frequently on the driven grouse moors.

          • 34 Iain Gibson
            May 26, 2017 at 2:35 pm

            Willie, I agree that driven grouse shooting is a particularly repulsive form of game shooting, but my fundamental principle is that all shooting for pleasure is disgusting. I have many years experience of knowing local estates who do driven and others who do walk-up grouse shooting, and the latter made absolutely no difference to the level of harrier persecution. Any gamekeeper on any grouse moor will kill harriers, as they all hate the bird with a vengeance. It’s firmly rooted in their culture. I’ve been trying to convince various groups that walk-up shooting might sound more noble or even “sustainable”, but is just as harmful when it comes to maximising grouse numbers through intensive moorland management, and minimising predators by direct persecution. The image created of one man and his dog being content to plod the moors and come home with a single brace for the pot is romanticised nonsense, but they like us to believe it.

            • 35 Willie S.
              May 27, 2017 at 8:57 am

              Iain, I’m thinking this is more about bringing a gradual change in attitudes of participants. I know that it can easily be said that hasn’t worked and has shown no signs of working. The amounts paid on driven grouse moors by moneyed “sportsmen” standing shoulder to shoulder with like minded individuals fighting off a bombardment of grouse, months old, clearly has an effect on how the shooting is ‘keepered and prepared for success on the day. Maybe the approach should be about making the shooters and sponsors aware that their participation is likely to be publicised. However abhorrent we find all forms of shooting to be, we have to make progress by highlighting the environmental differences brought about by removing the more intense forms of management. The pressure of returns has to be taken out of the equation. The numbers of grouse taken over a driven season appears always to be promoted as a selling point by the big estates. That would suggest that to maintain or improve on these “numbers” a ‘keeper also has to conduct his management strategy as before. Any relaxation of this, as far as he’s concerned, weather apart, has to result in lower numbers. If, in previous years, he has routinely removed “vermin”, within which he would include harriers, he’s not likely to stop. Experience will tell him that the removal of a resident raptor will enable him to relate that directly to a known (to him) number of grouse to maturity. I’m convinced that the removal of intensity of management on the driven grouse estates is the first, but main, obstacle to progress here.

              • 36 Iain Gibson
                May 27, 2017 at 10:56 am

                Willie, makes sense and I certainly don’t expect success overnight. I supported the petition for licensing of game shooting, despite considering it rather pointless and potentially counter-productive, firstly to support the folk who are making a supreme effort to change things, and also because it could raise the profile of the issue and might be a step in the right direction. However some people don’t quite get the cultural importance to the participants of “the right to shoot.” For many years the grouse moor owners were quite happy to make a loss or very small profit margins to continue their beloved hobby, but we have to realise that their new resolve is mainly driven by the greatly increased land valuation of UK grouse moors on the international money markets, along with the opportunities for tax avoidance created by globalisation. Realistically, our successes so far have been largely superficial. That doesn’t mean those campaigning are wasting their time, far from it. However as others have stated quite frequently, we need to do more to spread the word and build a movement.

    • May 24, 2017 at 1:35 pm

      Depends on how it is applied.
      Judging by how the SG has always been so cautious i agree it will make no difference if it has a high threshold of proof and a low level of punishment and loads of loopholes as with the General Licence.
      But it gives a framework and the only way this goes in Scotland is worse and worse for the grousers.
      Just wish i could live to see the all out ban which is inevitable as the grouse lobby have obviously no intention of making any real changes expect in rhetoric and spin.
      There is still a chance that a tipping point could come when for example other shooters who have had enough speak out or when the public wake up.
      I think there is enough historic evidence that change can come incrementally but interspersed with short dramatic changes. The US civil rights movement is something i think of often in our small but important struggle. RPUK, Mark Avery, BARC etc. have started the ball rolling and it isn’t going to stop.

      • 38 Iain Gibson
        May 27, 2017 at 1:48 pm

        anandprasad, with all due respect (and I’m not just saying that), I think the comparison with the US civil rights movement is a bit unrealistic. It’s also perhaps not the best comparison, because despite the far greater size and power of that movement, so many of the problems facing black people in that country have still not been adequately resolved. Having said that, I’m more optimistic now than in any previous phase of my life. If only RSPB would become more resolute in opposing exploitation of all birds, and SNH got their act together more constructively instead of being bogged down in bureaucracy, that could really speed things up a bit.

        • May 29, 2017 at 8:06 pm

          ‘I think the comparison with the US civil rights movement is a bit unrealistic.’

          All things are relative. I didn’t claim an equal comparison. I am not that mad. I was talking about social change not the weight of that change.
          You can take the same ‘relativity’ point to most of your posts on this page.

          • May 29, 2017 at 8:24 pm

            I should make my last line more clear because i don’t want to get into a discussion.
            Everyone feelings are different and only they know what exactly they are.
            It is impossible to assume that you know how someone else feels, in this case, their level of optimism from their words. There is also the context or even the mood of the moment.
            The anger of the Dalai Lama is not the same as that of Donald Trump. Same goes for optimism.

          • 41 Iain Gibson
            May 29, 2017 at 8:53 pm

            anandprasad, I think I haven’t expressed myself clearly, as you seem to have missed my point. I’d find it helpful if you could explain your final point, which sounds vaguely like some sort of personal slur. Rather than have a public debate about something trivial, please do so to my SOC email address, which you can find on the SOC website. The last thing I want to do is fall out with or upset a fellow harrier enthusiast.

  17. 42 Chris T
    May 23, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    I can understand the Tories voting that way (it’s what they do), but Richard Lyle needs a sit down and a chat with his party colleagues. I had to look up his constituency, imagining it was in the heart of shooting territory and was gobsmacked to find it. Does he think the good people of Uddingston and Bellshill will find his open mind refreshing? Is there anyone on here in that constituency who can get his views more widely shared – it may swing some important votes away from him if he’s shown to be a Tory in disguise.

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