Four More Years

Four More Years !

Not the Angler’s Choice ?

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 ?

Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA)News Release Contact:  Jim Hutchinson, Jr. (888-564-6732) **RFA NEWS ALERT**For Immediate ReleaseNovember 5, 2012
RFA REMINDS ANGLERS TO VOTE FOR FISHING CHAMPIONSTwenty-One Candidates Who Have Rallied With Coastal FishermenNovember 5, 2012 –  On February 24, 2010 and March 21, 2012, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) and more than two dozen fishing organizations representing both recreational and commercial interests convened rallies near the steps of our nation’s capitol to raise awareness of the concerns of our coastal fishing communities.As the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast shovels out from the tragic mess left behind by the devastating coastal storm, the RFA reminds everyone that Tuesday, November 6, 2012 is Election Day in the United States – and it’s one which we believe is one of the most important elections of our lifetime.RFA staff and volunteers from coast to coast have been working with key legislators and candidates to ensure that the RFA mission “to safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs, and ensure the long-term sustainability of our Nation’s saltwater fisheries” is being represented in the future. When it comes time for you to cast your selection in the voting booth on Tuesday, the RFA asks that you give ample consideration to those who we believe are our present and future Fishing Champions in Congress.

The following list of U.S. Senate and House of Representative candidates are those appearing on ballots in the coastal United States on November 6th who have pledged their ongoing support for our coastal community and who have personally addressed the concerns of theKeep Fishermen Fishing coalition at Upper Senate Park in Washington DC at the recent rallies in 2010 and 2012.

As a reminder, the common theme among all those assembled near the Capitol – democrats, republicans, commercial fishermen and saltwater anglers alike – was that the current NOAA administration has grossly ignored our coastal interests during the past 4 years. Top-level appointments at NOAA – where wanton abuse of power and sometimes tyrannical rule over our open access rights as free Americans – can only be changed at the polls on Tuesday in the presidential race.

That is why, that in addition to the following Fishing Champions appearing on the November 6th ballot, the RFA is endorsing Governor Mitt Romney for President of the United States.

Four more years of the current administration means four more years of top-level neglect by our fisheries service. It is time for change, and the recreational fishing community in the United States is well aware of what we need to survive – it’s time for real change in the office of the president with support for our true Fishing Champions in Congress.

(* Asterisk indicates RFA-supported challengers to sitting congressional incumbents)

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!

Cross party barbel trip with my friends Jon Cruddas MP (Lab) and Charles Walker MP(Con)

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