Martin Salter and I have just completed a tour of Britain attending all three of the party political conferences. Our job was to ensure that anglers’ messages were heard at the top of British politics. The Trust jointly organised, with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), three ‘rural receptions’ at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, at Labour’s Brighton bash and with the Liberal Democrats in Glasgow. More than 300 conference delegates, ranging from local councillors to government Ministers, attended the events.
Sir George Young, the Chief Whip, came up to me at the Tory event and asked me what the most important issue was facing angling. There’s not an easy answer to that question when you think about it. Angling is so wide ranging that there are hundreds of issues that affect our sport. The environmental issues are mind-bogglingly diverse: at these conferences alone we discussed fracking, hydropower, commercial over-fishing, the Water Bill, cormorant predation, dredging of rivers and sewage pollution. But there are also all the social issues that have a big impact on angling: local authorities banning angling on council waters and piers, poaching, illegal canoeing and how our licence fees are spent by the EA are all hot topics at the moment. I had to give him a politicians answer and say that with 3 million participants and 37,000 employees, there was more than one big issue affecting our membership.
We spend nearly £8,000 attending and hosting receptions at the major party conferences each year because it is a vital way of getting all these messages heard and getting the political parties to put on record their support for angling. Ministers speaking at our events all referred to the millions of anglers who vote, the importance of angling to the economy and the role that anglers play protecting the water environment. These are all messages that the Angling Trust, as the unified representative body for all anglers, has managed to imprint on the core thinking of politicians in all the major parties. We want a situation where angling is always supported, whoever wins the General Election and for politicians to understand the importance of angling to us as individuals and a community when they make decisions that affect our lives.
We can only go to these events because of the generous support of our members and donors who pay a small amount so that we can do a very important job on behalf of angling as a whole. If you’re not a member, please join today at http://www.anglingtrust.net or phone 0844 7700616 during office hours.