Anti-Shooting Week tour – a brilliant response

Posted on the 30th September 2008

Animal Aid's first ever National Anti-Shooting Week (22-28 September 2008) was tremendously successful and well-received – largely down to the enthusiasm and commitment of Animal Aid supporters across the country. With our mascot, Phileas the Pheasant, we travelled to Bradford, Chatham, Exeter, Reading and Vauxhall in South London – all areas served by pro-shoot MPs. The aim was to alert compassionate people to the government's pro-shooting agenda. Our supporters leafleted and collected signatures on petitions from concerned passers-by and we had a few eventful encounters along the way.

In Bradford, MP Gerry Sutcliffe denied to the local press that he was pro-bloodsports. Yet days later at a reception at this year’s Labour Party Conference in Manchester, he paid the main pro-shooting lobby group, The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), tribute for their ‘good work’ and claimed: ‘Shooting gives opportunities for young people to get more involved in the countryside.’ The two statements are plainly inconsistent and we will be urging Mr Sutcliffe to use his position as Sports Minister to persuade the government that the shooting of birds is nothing more than wanton animal cruelty.

The government’s official shooting spokesperson, Martin Salter, was at his surgery when we arrived on Saturday morning. The handmade poster he had stuck in his window amounted to a confession. It read: ‘LABOUR SUPPORTS FISHING + SHOOTING AS PROMISED!!!’ He declined to take our film, which shows the suffering of gamebirds – presumably he knows all about that already.

Elsewhere, our tour got enthusiastic backing from residents of Chatham and Exeter and we made many new friends along the way. Len Smith – an animal lover from Reading, who has known Martin Salter for more than 40 years – told us he was shocked by Labour’s pro-shooting stance, and that he was going to pay Mr Salter a visit to give him a piece of his mind!

A huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who helped with the tour and who ran street stalls and leafleting events during the week of action. As more and more people become aware of this government’s attitude towards gamebirds, we are certain that mounting pressure will bring about a positive policy reversal.

Animal Aid visited the home bases of the following MPs as part of National Anti-Shooting Week:

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