Downing Street sign
Downing street sign

Boredom and apathy have no place in a general election

There is a major danger to shooting and conservation during the current election campaign: boredom and apathy among those who shoot and support shooting.

Anyone who follows the press and opinion polls could be forgiven for thinking that the election is a done deal. We’re all set to get a Labour government with a landslide majority.

That may be so – although the only poll that counts is the one held on 4 July – but the wrong conclusion to draw from all this is that it’s pointless doing anything for this election. Here’s why.

Serious challenges ahead

Whatever government we’re likely to get, shooting faces some serious challenges. Full cost recovery for firearms licensing might see that expense quadruple with no improvements in efficiency. Tighter controls on firearms could introduce yet more hurdles to participation without any benefit to public safety. Shoot licensing could up the costs of game shooting, and every hurdle and cost increase reduces participation and excludes people who want to take up shooting.

There will be organisations who want to damage shooting who’ve invested heavily in a change of government, and they’ll be knocking on Ministers’ doors come 5 July. At the same time, perhaps more than 50 per cent of the Commons will be newly elected MPs whose views on shooting may be unknown.

How do we fight this? We’ve been briefing those likely to be Ministers over the last three years and we’ll continue to do so after the election. We’ve taken some of them clay shooting, or to visit shoots. We’ve watched minds change on such visits but keeping the arguments fresh when they’re under continuous pressure from the other side can be difficult.

"Whatever government we’re likely to get, shooting faces some serious challenges."

Securing positive outcomes in parliament

In the next House of Commons, we need to re-establish and rebuild the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Shooting and Conservation. In the last parliament this had 150 members and was a key force in lobbying Ministers and securing positive outcomes for shooting. 

We may lose 80 per cent of APPG members during this election. The need to re-establish it as a force for shooting in the next parliament makes it vitally important that we know where winning candidates stand on shooting. That’s why the most important thing you can do for shooting and conservation is to use BASC’s general election platform to contact your candidates and ask them where they stand. 

Receiving plenty of emails from constituents will show them the importance of shooting and make them a more receptive audience after the election. Keep checking the page; we’re adding more candidate details and contact emails as these become available.

Those of us who shoot and support shooting have little more than four weeks to do the groundwork that will really make the difference under the next government – don’t let boredom and apathy stop you from playing your part.