Next Thursday, voters in Wales and Scotland go to the polls to elect new administrations to the Welsh Assembly, in Cardiff, and the Scottish Parliament, at Holyrood. The increasing number of powers devolved to the countries in recent years mean the elections now hold real significance for shooters. The likelihood of coalition government in both parliaments potentially increases the impact more marginal parties in Westminster could have in Wales and Scotland.
The recent introduction of new laws impacting on tail docking have demonstrated how powers granted to devolved regions can produce varying legislation in England, Scotland and Wales, with differing effects on shooters.
In Scotland, a public consultation on the future of snaring closed in February, putting the issue at the forefront of the rural agenda north of the Border, together with airgun use. The Scottish National Party (SNP) has pledged to restrict the number of guns in Scotland and has a manifesto commitment, like that of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, to introduce a licensing scheme restricting airguns. The SNP has also made calls to have legislative powers over firearms ?repatriated to Scotland?.
Opinion polling at the weekend put the SNP in the lead over the other parties in Scotland, but suggestions have been made that the party could be forced into a coalition with the Lib Dems and the Greens, in order to hold power over Labour. In Wales, meanwhile, where the political parties are regarded as being generally more sensitive to rural matters, opinion polling has indicated that Labour seems unlikely to secure sufficient seats to take overall control, prompting speculation that some form of coalition will see the Lib Dems or Plaid Cymru share power with either Labour or the Conservatives.