One of the nastier aspects of modern life is the internet trolling that seems to follow anyone with a minor public profile, or a marginally controversial opinion. All of us in politics get it from time to time, and it’s a sad reflection on the dark under-belly of modern life. A recent victim is Rachel Carrie, billed as “The face of British Shooting” – and if I may say so, a very agreeable face she has, too.
She has received some pretty vile stuff – if not death threats, then at least death-wishes. And all this for pursuing a perfectly legal activity which has been a feature of country life for centuries. One wonders what motivates these people. Are they jealous of the publicity she’s achieved? Are they looking around for a fig-leaf in an attempt to justify their hatred and resentment of their fellow-citizens? It can scarcely be a concern for animal welfare. Those animal rights hooligans who released farmed mink into the wild had little regard for the British countryside, or for the survival of the English water-vole.
Given that we raise, and kill, and butcher stock on an industrial scale, it’s perhaps surprising that a relatively minor activity like shooting should attract such passionate opposition. Relatively minor, but still an important industry, which turns over some £2 billion a year and employs, directly or indirectly, 74,000 people. Many of these jobs are in remote areas where employment is hard to come by.
Shooting brings in a lot of foreign exchange revenue to the UK. It also contributes to nature conservation and wild-life management across five million acres of our country.
But there is more to shooting than economics. We should do well to recall that humans are omnivores. We eat grains and vegetables and fruit and nuts – but also fish and meat. And we have done so since time immemorial. We are descended from a million years of hunter-gatherers. Hunting and shooting, whether for the pot, or to control vermin and protect our chickens and lambs, is a fundamental part of our nature and provenance that we reject at our peril. It’s part of who we are.
So well done, Rachel, for making a stand. Millions of sensible folk will applaud what you’re doing. You can afford to ignore the handful of misfits and misogynists who choose to parade their anonymous inadequacies by abusing you.