This week I was asked how much influence the Angling Trust has in government, and I thought that might make a good subject for my blog.
The Angling Trust was formed five years ago following a merger of six national governing bodies for different disciplines of the sport and other organisations. We have now combined eleven organisations to form a single body to represent all coarse, game and sea anglers. We believe that by joining forces, anglers can have a louder voice to campaign on the many issues that affect our sport. Most politicians don’t know the difference between a spod and a spey cast, but they know that there are more than three million anglers in the country, who can vote them out of a job. By pooling our resources, we can have a much bigger impact and be much more cost effective than eleven separate organisations.
As a result of this merger, angling has never had such a loud voice in government. Our campaigns chief Martin Salter, when he was an MP, set up the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group and we work very closely with the angling MPs on this group to brief them on key issues and to ask them to raise questions in the House of Commons. We have regular meetings with government officials, Ministers and Secretaries of State and occasionally we even make it into Number 10 to meet the Prime Minister. We attend all three of the political party conferences where we host a reception for MPs, party activists and local councillors to make the case for angling to be protected, respected and improved. This initiative alone costs us nearly £10,000 a year – or 400 membership subscriptions.
Richard Benyon MP (until recently the Environment Minister) has accepted our invitation to become an Angling Trust Ambassador and said on his appointment: “I have seen at first hand how effectively the Angling Trust lobbies on behalf of angling and the environment. It is a respected player in the corridors of power because its arguments are evidence-based and coherent. There has never been a more important time for a strong voice for anglers and the rivers, lakes and seas where they fish. It is an honour to be an Ambassador for the Trust.”
However, there is a cautionary notes to add, before you start thinking that the Angling Trust will be able to work political miracles with all this influence. Our political system is incredibly resistant to change; legislation can take many years to jump through all the parliamentary hoops before it becomes law and the government machine only responds rapidly when it is under massive pressure. We have had considerable success over the past 5 years getting small changes to policy and practice which have all been beneficial to angling and fish stocks. If we are to win much bigger battles though, we will need a lot more firepower in the form of cash and members.
This is where you come in. We currently have less than 1% of all anglers in membership. Please join us today, to help us shout even louder in the corridors of power.