Four More Years !
Whilst the Angling Trust stands above the party political divide I make no secret of my own politics and like many of my former colleagues who have been rooting for an Obama victory in the US elections I set the alarm early this morning to catch the declaration and the victory speeches. At its best politics can inspire hope and optimism and its greatest practitioners can bring tears to the eyes with their passion and oratory. One of my most memorable moments in my 13 year stint in the Commons was seeing Nelson Mandela, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton sharing the same stage – probably the three best speakers in the English speaking world at the time. Nowadays I would put Barack Obama up there in that category.
Anyway, amidst all the excitement I remembered an email I received from the Recreational Fishing Alliance of America (RFA) in which they encouraged their members to vote not for Obama but for Romney. Now I’m all for angling bodies engaging closely with our politicians but surely it makes sense to do so on a cross party basis ? Crudely endorsing one side over another is seldom right, never clever and in this case probably downright daft when your man loses. How much influence is the RFA now going to have in the White House for the next four years ?
In the UK we have just finished our party conference season and the Angling Trust was represented at the Tory, LibDem and Labour gatherings. In our next edition of the members magazine The Angle there will be a series of interviews from the politicians who matter most to angling. The Angling Trust works hard to have a good working relationship irrespective of party politics. We are in the happy place where our main political parties see angling as a mainstream activity and are keen to work with us on policies to promote, protect and enhance our sport and lifestyle. I would hate to see the day when angling in Britain became a party political football.
As some people will know I have spent a fair bit of time in Australia helping the angling bodies get organised. In my view they made a serious tactical error in aligning themselves too closely with the Opposition parties and are only now beginning to re-establish a relationship with their own government. Currently Australian politics are badly screwed as regards recreational fishing. This is what I wrote recently on the situation Down Under..
“Labor is currently so weak it needs the Greens to govern and too many Aussie Greens are hostile to fishing and fail to make the distinction between the impacts of commercial exploitation and a couple of guys in a trailer boat or tinny. The other side is just as bad as we have seen with their support for the supertrawler and the actions of Coalition governments in NSW and Queensland who have ridden roughshod over the views and interests of rec fishers in their states. Federally it’s clear to me that an Abbott government would roll over and do the pros bidding while a minority Labor government would have its work cut out resisting Green demands for more fishing closures. Not a great choice is it ? Less fish to catch or less places to fish !”
I am absolutely convinced that the only place for us is where we command the respect of the people that matter in the mainstream of our public life and that we work with all parties to ensure that they remain committed to angling and the benefits that we all know it can deliver.
That then leaves old hacks like me the freedom to lift a glass and celebrate the victory of our guy on the other side of the pond for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with angling!