A Party Conference Season Shooting Summary
Party conference season is always a busy time of the year for organisations with lobbying interests, and 2023 has been no different for Aim to Sustain partner organisations with representation and activity across all of the main nationwide political parties.
With crucial statements made by influential politicians, both inside and outside of Government.
Polling increasingly points towards an incoming Labour Government, with nerves beginning to grow in the shooting community due to the Labour Party’s past relationship with country sports.
However there was good news from their autumn conference in Liverpool this week – speaking at the joint BASC and Angling Trust rural reception, Shadow Environment Secretary Steve Reed said that the party wants a ‘respectful relationship’ with the countryside.
“In 1997 and 2001, Labour was the biggest political party in the countryside,” he said. “We had more rural and coastal seats than any other party. That hasn’t been the case since then – but we want to be the party of the countryside again.”
“Keir Starmer wants that to happen and we know that means we have to develop a very respectful relationship with the countryside; that means people from urban seats like me not telling people who live in and enjoy the countryside how they should live their lives.”
“That respectful approach is absolutely necessary if we’re going to form a government and then be a successful government. And that includes us supporting shooting that is sustainable and conducted according to the law.”
This, twinned with the current Environment Secretary, Thérèse Coffey’s, keynote speech at BASC’s rural reception at the Conservative Autumn Conference in Manchester, will be welcomed across the shooting community.
“Shooting is really important to the success of the countryside and I can assure you that the Conservatives are on your side.”
“As I have said before, if it wasn’t for some of the activities undertaken by the shooting community, we wouldn’t have the marvellous countryside we have today. The amount conservation undertaken in the countryside is only possible thanks to those who shoot, farmers and the wider rural community.”
Other Aim to Sustain partner organisations had a strong presence across the conferences, in particular the Countryside Alliance who conducted one event at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference, two events at the Conservative Party Conference and finishing with a debate on Labour’s ‘rural vision’.
A clear desire of a greater need to engage with the rural community was felt at the Labour conference, with important connections being built across the party.
The CLA also had representation across the conferences, with a focus on on their important campaigns such as their ‘rural powerhouse’ efforts and looking forward to the next general election. Read CLA Senior Public Affairs Manager Eleanor Wood’s thoughts below:
The environmental, economic and social benefits delivered directly from shooting are there for all to see – it’s incredibly important that we continue to make the positive argument to politicians and the wider country. Our message is getting through – let’s keep at it.