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Next to the great halal scandal, grouse is small beer. But which has M&S banned?

31 July 2014

31 July 2014

Last year I got my grouse at M&S. The birds, I mean. There’s a little fresh meat section in the Kensington branch round the corner from me at work, and it was dead handy to get game there when I was in money. In fact, if you want gastronomic popular elitism, grouse in supermarkets is as close as you get. Simply roasted with buttered breadcrumbs…nothing nicer, really.

Tragically, the treat’s off this year. Mark Avery, the former conservation director of the RSPB, has been lobbying the chief executive Marc Bolland not to stock it, on the basis that ‘if you persist with selling grouse meat, it sends a clear signal that you actively want to support this industry and are siding with an industry that causes environmental damage and is intimately associated with wildlife crime.’ And duly, M&S has sorrowfully declared that ‘we have not been able to secure sufficient numbers of responsibly sourced and third party accredited red grouse’.

It would be churlish to complain about supermarkets taking pains about their sourcing; I mean that’s why some of us go to M&S and Waitrose in the first place. And undeniably, illegal shoots do harm. But in the great scheme of things, is grouse shooting worse when it comes to animal welfare than, say, battery chickens – by no means all M&S poultry is free range? And is the store being unduly pernickety here, under the RSPB bludgeon, than it is in other areas? I seem to recall that back in May when there was uproar about halal meat being flogged to unsuspecting consumers in shops, restaurants and schools (whatever did come of that, incidentally?), M&S was one of the supermarkets named as selling halal lamb, unlabelled. I’m still not sure whether that included animals killed without being stunned first. By comparison with the great halal scandal, grouse shoots are small beer. Yet which issue does it take the high moral ground on? Funny, that.


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Show comments
  • Chris Ranmore

    The fact we have a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds but only a National Society for the Protection of Children tells you everything you need to know about the British Monarchy.

    • pedestrianblogger

      No it doesn’t. Don’t be silly.

  • Picquet

    Fear and control. Fear of the financial consequences of ‘offending’, and control by the single-issue bullies.

  • Conway

    … it sends a clear signal that you actively want to support this industry
    and are siding with an industry that causes environmental damage and is
    intimately associated with wildlife crime.
    ” Who would that be, the RSPB? Their support for wind turbines and their policy on raptors could be construed as environmental damage and wildlife crime! Game is tasty, lean meat and very healthy. Much better for you than factory farmed meat that’s been bled to death while still conscious so some shamanesque character can mumble an incantation over it.

  • Q46

    I have given up lettuce until I can find an ethically grown, sustainable source.

    What we desperately need in the UK is a couple of years of famine, then people might see food and its source for what it is, a means of survival not an ideology and religion.

  • Will Rees

    why don’t you try again at the end of August. Season doesn’t start til the 12th and then the birds need to hang

  • ToryBoomandBust

    Perhaps it would be best if we all boycotted grouse on the basis of the huge state subsidies paid to landowners. We have a deficit, don’t you know? It’s very strange that in these austere times, when we’re supposedly “all in this together” that government subsidies to grouse moors have been almost doubled.

    • Ordinaryman

      In which case, let’s boycott everything that’s subsidised; alternative energy, theatres, charities, museums, etc.etc. I’m sure all fair minded people would agree with that.

      • dado_trunking

        Noooooo, the military is subsidised too, to 100.3% in fact.

        • Ordinaryman

          Sorry, I forgot that. But, and I’m not one of them, some people would agree to stop all military funding. In this world, how ridiculous would that be? Sorry again, I’m drifting off subject.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …is that socialist nutter arithmetic, lad?

      • ToryBoomandBust

        You can organise a boycott of whatever you like, Sunshine! I might even support you if you make a good case. The issue at stake here is grouse: why are we subsidising millionaire landowners to fatten grouse for City rich kids to shoot? And why have those subsidies increased at a time when the other causes you mention have had their funding cut of frozen? “All in this together” – hahahahahahaha.

        • Ordinaryman

          I suspect I couldn’t rely on your support regardless of how good a case I made, purely because your rational, from the comments you have made, appears to be driven by jealousy and class warfare. Those City rich kids, and before you come to the wrong conclusion again I’m most definitely not one of them, help in no small way to give employment to thousands of country people both directly and indirectly. But that might not be of any concern to you?? I could, possibly, sympathise with you regarding the differential that exists between the highest and lowest paid in this country, but this is not the topic under discussion.

          • ToryBoomandBust

            Thanks for telling me that my motivation is envy. It is not. I want to see our deficit come down – given the tough choices that Government is making in other areas of social policy, I wonder why it has chosen this year to almost double subsidies to landowners? You can kid yourself that it’s to promote job creation in the countryside, but don’t expect me to be suckered in. If people want to shoot then they should expect to pay the real cost of doing so – taxpayers should not be subsidising them – that’s not class warfare, it’s just good economics.

            • Ordinaryman

              People do pay for their shooting to the tune of £2.5 billion per year (see the other article in Coffee House on this subject). A lot of this income is new money introduced into the economy by overseas shooters. Any subsidy is small change compared to the benefits.

              • ToryBoomandBust

                The £2.5bn is subsidised and there is no reason for that to be the case. Those overseas shooters, intoducing “new money” into the economy, can well afford to pay the actual costs. In any case, you have failed to make the case for these subsidies being almost doubled when other state payments are being cut. Is it really the “politics of envy” to question why 899 landowners received more than £250k each in handouts in 2012, and why they needed an 80%+ uplift this year?

                • Ordinaryman

                  I’ve assumed during the course of our discussion that the subsidies you have been talking about are those paid through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Rural Development (please correct me if I’m wrong). If this is the case, then I may be able to put your mind at rest by telling you (and I summarise only) that the subsidies paid to land-owners that do not farm in the strict sense of farming will soon no longer receive the CAP subsidy.

      • Chris Ranmore

        “In which case, let’s boycott everything that’s subsidised”
        Why on earth should that follow unless you’re being particularly pig-headed? An intelligent person can do their best to discriminate between worthy institutions and worthless ones.

        • Ordinaryman

          “Pig-headed”, no. The point I was making was, if you’re going to assess the worthiness of a single institution to receive a subsidy without applying the same enquiry to all subsidies, you are being discriminatory. These assessments can also be very subjective, with emotional viewpoints very often over-riding the practical benefits of a subsidy. In this particular case, the subsidies in question are, I assume, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Rural Development subsidies paid to support rural economies and employment. The fact that grouse shooting also benefits is not surprising because, like it or not, it is part of the rural economy. Nevertheless, it may be of interest to you to know that this being reviewed and, in some cases, non-farming beneficiaries having their subsidies removed. I have, obviously, condensed these facts and you may wish to look into this further.

  • swatnan

    Still spitting leadshot out of your mouthful of grouse?
    I thought they’d banned haggis as being too stomach churning.

  • WatTylersGhost

    Send a Mullah up to Perthshire and put him in a Barbour jacket and get him to cry “Allahu akbar” every time he shoots a grouse, then it surely will be Halal.

    Problem solved for the hypocrites at M&S.

    • Geronimo von Huxley

      White man with feather on head look stupid. No need to shout or wear stupid cloth when hunting. Birds fly when smell white man. White man long forget nature, he dream of nature but then dig holes for black gold and build white elephant. White man stupid.

    • Ordinaryman

      I’m really sorry to disagree, but it needs to have its throat cut so that it bleeds to death before it can be Halal.

      • you_kid

        That would be called KOSHER, you uneducated pleb.

        “Traditional Jewish thought has expressed the view that all meat must come from animals which have been slaughtered according to Jewish law. These strict guidelines require the animal be killed by a single cut across the throat to a precise depth, severing both carotid arteries, both jugular veins, both vagus nerves, the trachea and the esophagus, no higher than the epiglottis and no lower than where cilia begin inside the trachea, causing the animal to bleed to death.”

        • Ordinaryman

          I think you would serve the discussion better if you resisted the temptation to be insulting and find out about Halal ritual slaughter. You will then come to realise who the real “uneducated pleb” is.

          • you_kid

            No, I am sick and tired of these pork-hating loons dictating the agenda in Britain, bringing their silly wars here, flooding our country with their silly concerns, believing they called all the shots here.

            There is only one obvious solution to all of this.
            Say it loud, say it with pride: Eat more pork and stay sane!

            • Alexsandr

              bacon, ham, pork pie, pork chops, roast pork, pork scratchings, pork sausage.

              yum

              • Ordinaryman

                I enjoy them all!

            • The Masked Marvel

              You really don’t like Jews, do you?

              • you_kid

                No matey – look at this blog, again.

                What we need is a balanced outlook. I deliver that, every single time.

                • The Masked Marvel

                  You support the creation of a state with a human rights violation built into it, while claiming to support human rights. You’re as unbalanced as it gets.

                • you_kid

                  No, stop this ‘you support’, ‘you believe’, ‘you do’ this and that nonsense at once. I stated what I support many times.

                • The Masked Marvel

                  Yes, and you support either a Palestinian State, or the Single State solution, right?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  You deliver impenetrable gibberish, every single time, laddie .

              • Jackthesmilingblack

                Who does?

                • The Masked Marvel

                  Hang on, isn’t all this anger at Israel supposed to be entirely unrelated to people not liking Jews? Bit of a giveaway there.

            • Jackthesmilingblack

              “don’t come to Britain if you don’t like those values.”
              “Eat more pork and stay sane!”
              Sounds as if you need to get out more.
              Jack, Japan Alps

              • you_kid

                … more karajoke for you mate, you need appear to need it.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …maybe the goat could use some, lad.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Oh but being insulting is why we are here. And insulting Islam is very jolly.

            • Ordinaryman

              It’s a pity, but I’m learning!

      • Picquet

        Surely spraying it with AK47 rounds meets the requirement?

  • dado_trunking

    Who on this friendly earth would expect to buy grouse in a national chain of supermarkets? Stop thinking corporate/big/on an industrial scale. Owen Paterson was *sacked* – it’s over!

    • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

      it isn’t/wasn’t and is not intended to be in the whole chain.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Charities taken over by lefties who understand the effectiveness of coercion:-

    The intimidation of a victim to compel the individual to do some act against his or her will by the use of psychological pressure…

    • dado_trunking

      Why do the bigoted right always lobby in secret/private/in the backrooms of power, yet when actual people get together and lobby *on the streets* for various causes that was somehow ‘coercive and giving rise to alarm’?

      You really need to explain this, and yes, we need to see the Ukip crowd on the streets outlining in public what their causes of concerns are.
      Where on this friendly earth are they all?

      Have a tea party in public, I’d come along in support of rational thought …

      • Colonel Mustard

        “Why do the bigoted left always lobby in secret/private/in the backrooms of power”

        You mean like when Miliband and Clegg met in private with Hacked Off to discuss the Leveson report? I give up, why do they?

        “You really need to explain this” Why?

        GAFY.

        • dado_trunking

          Yes, very good indeed. I want you to have some fun, Colonel – have a tea party in public. Where are the bigoted right when it comes to your valid concerns?

          • Colonel Mustard

            You haven’t answered my questions, troll. I want to have some fun too.

            • dado_trunking

              Aww, boo hoo – nor have you, Sarge.

              • Colonel Mustard

                Er, you are the one who insists on hanging on my comments like a particularly ugly and tedious haemorrhoid.

                You can have the last word.

              • girondas2

                You still haven’t answered his question have you?
                Indulge us little shyster, answer his question.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …you’d come along with your army of sockpuppets jabbering incomprehensible gibberish, lad

  • https://belasariust.wordpress.com/ solly gratia

    Perhaps M&S can label their fowl as wind turbine-killed, with an RSPB badge of approval.

    • MaxSceptic

      Love your ‘Scarlet Letter’.

      I hope we don’t get to the point where in certain ‘ethnic’ neighbourhoods they are scrawled on the doors of members the now minority faith.

  • JoeDM

    All cooked and uncooked halal (and other ritually slaughtered) meat should be clearly labled as such.

    • Chris Morriss

      I certainly agree. Halal and kosher meat should both be clearly labelled. Some of us would like very much not to purchase meat that has been slaughtered as part of some unpleasant ritual.

      • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

        Kosher is always labelled, they even have their own quality scheme.

        • Chris Morriss

          Ah, thanks. I really wasn’t aware of that. Hats off to the Jewish authorities for this, which is helpful to those either wishing or not wishing to purchase ritually slaughtered meat.

          • Alexsandr

            kosher meat is labelled when being sold as kosher. but as far as I am aware there is nothing to stop it being sold with no label as to its slaughter method. Same as halal

            • The Masked Marvel

              Other than it’s more expensive, and nobody’s going to do that.

      • Tom M

        You are right about the unpleasant ritual bit. Saw that once in Cairo. Make your stomach churn.

      • Chris Ranmore

        Agreed. I also don’t want to contribute to the fee that is paid to the cleric of whichever faith is in attendance.

  • Guenier

    Here’s the text of an email I sent to the RSPB a few months ago:

    “This email confirms my telephone request just now that my membership be cancelled.

    As your records will show, I’ve been a member for many years. So I’ve taken this decision with great sadness: I’m a keen and active environmentalist and, until recently, have had a huge admiration for the RSPB’s work. But I am utterly dismayed by your active, and it seems enthusiastic, support for wind turbines.

    Not only are these devices killing birds (the very creatures you are supposed to be protecting!) but they are rapidly ruining large parts of our precious countryside. Maybe – just maybe (see below) – your support might make sense if these devices reduced CO2 emissions. But they plainly don’t. Substantial emissions are expended on their build and erection (not to mention the environmental damage caused by the extraction of the Rare Earth Minerals necessary for that build) and more are expended by the provision of back-up when (as happens remarkably frequently) there is inadequate wind. Moreover, as fossil fuel based and nuclear power sources are phased out and “renewables” (largely wind turbines) are increased, the unreliability of the latter is putting us at risk of dangerous power
    outages – especially damaging for the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. And, of course, the costs involved in building, erecting and integrating these devices with the Grid are increasing our fuel bills: especially damaging for disadvantaged people, while rewarding the already wealthy people and organisations on whose land they are erected.

    The UK is responsible for about 1.7% of global CO2 emissions. So, even if wind turbines reduced some part of that, it would make no perceptible difference to the global situation. The whole exercise is essentially pointless. Yet, in the hope of achieving such a pathetic result, the RSPB is contributing to the problems and risks I outline above. It makes no sense.

    Robin Guenier”

    I suggest others might consider doing likewise.

    • JoeDM

      Well done. I have also stopped giving to RSPB, RSPA and other corporate charities that seem to have lost their way.

      I now only give to small charities that clearly focus on specific problems.

      • Guenier

        Life can be ironic. Only this afternoon I attended a memorial service for the wife of an old friend. Donations were to be split 50/50 between Macmillan cancer research and the RSPB. Needless to say, I made a donation.

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers
      • Chris Morriss

        The new picture shows land that is not producing much of any value. It looks like any other bland bit of restoration after opencast mining.. The old picture shows an industrial scene that was probably producing great wealth for the nation. I wonder what your point was?

    • John Shields

      Sadly, this is to misunderstand energy generation and the energy market. Wind energy is fine for about 20% of our power, although will get problematic beyond that without some serious adaptation (although it’s arguable that this adaptation should be happening anyway, whether or not we have wind – it’s all just about having more advanced control over usage & pricing). The sheer ignorance peddled in the pages of the Telegraph and, sadly, the Spectator on this issue – including sometimes valid criticisms for the wrong reasons! – is disgraceful. The same ignorance also prevails over commentary on coal, nuclear and gas. The media’s energy commentary is terrible. But then the people at DECC/Defra aren’t much better. Most don’t even know the difference between ‘energy’ and ‘power’. Which is like the Department of Transport not knowing the difference between miles and mph.

      • Guenier

        So, John, you think that my letter to the RSPB shows that I “misunderstand energy generation and the energy market”. Well, I made several observations. Do you mean all of them? Or just some? And, if the latter, which?

        As for “sheer ignorance” being “peddled”, do you include the Economist in your strictures? See this: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/01/economist-explains-0?fsrc=gn_ep and this: http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21608646-wind-and-solar-power-are-even-more-expensive-commonly-thought-sun-wind-and

        And how about James Hansen, the father of global warming concern? He regards belief that renewables are the solution to dependence on fossil fuels as “almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy”: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110729_BabyLauren.pdf Is Hansen also peddling disgraceful ignorance?

        • John Shields

          I don’t disagree with all of your observations: for example, the RSPB is in favour of renewables, and I agree renewables and gas subsidies should form part of usual taxation (like nuclear and drilling subsidies) rather than being levied on fuel bills, which exacerbates fuel poverty problems and undermines the whole thing politically. But yes, I do have issues with a lot of your comments: on the technical and on the policy elements. And would include the Economist in my strictures, as you put it. Re: the latter, there simply isn’t the room in the mainstream media to analyse the energy market adequately without trying the patience of their non-engineer audience/readership. I agree with quite a bit of what Mr Hansen says – renewables are no cure all. But they are part of a wide suite of technological solutions to our dependence on amazingly convenient, but sadly subversively harmful, fossil fuels. But even some fossil fuels have their place in the short term. I’m just sick of the ‘white elephant/silver bullet’ approach of government and the media: no technology is either of these things, and the picture is far more complex than most allow.

  • Peter Stroud

    It is high time that the RSPB was told to wind in its neck. It has been taken over by fanatical, left wing greenies and anti shooting lobbyists.

  • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

    We all know why they won’t bat an eyelid about halal.

    “‘…we have not been able to secure sufficient numbers of responsibly sourced and third party accredited red grouse” is a pathetic excuse and they know it.

  • Nick

    It’s very easy. Just label each brace. “These birds were shot by a genuine countryman who goes without many luxuries in order to be able to afford cartridges and who holds a shotgun legally. In refusing to sell these birds this supermarket is contributing towards the decline of yet another country sport which gives many thousands of people a livelihood.”
    Unfortunately the label is more likely to read: “These birds were catapulted high in the air from a trebuchet operated under pain of death by a downtrodden rural serf clad in sackcloth held together with baling twine so that they could be shot by a fat stockbroker with a flask of whisky in one hand and a mobile phone in the other.”
    Thanks, RSPB. Go and join the RSPCA and persecute country dwellers from the comfort of your West End HQ.

  • HookesLaw

    Are they stocking pheasants? In any event there will be local butchers stocking both Grouse and Pheasants. If there is this ulterior motive behind M&S actions then I suggest you stop shopping at M&S completely and write a nice letter to its chairman telling him why. Also you/we can stop contributing to the RSPB.
    Will the RSPB be paying the unemployment benefits of the people their campaigns sack?

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