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New Chief Executive at LACS

So, the new boss at the League Against Cruel Sports (New LACS head, News, 23 March) is one of those former local authority chiefs who is widely regarded as having been massively overpaid.

There are some decent antis, of course. Decent, if misguided. (I think I met one once.) But there are also a number who are mendacious parasites, waxing fat on the proceeds of their campaigns to instil a loathing of rural cultural traditions. At least, that?s my humble opinion.

To which category, if any, does the new LACS man belong? Your guess is as good as mine. But I think it is reasonable to surmise that the pressure group?s choice of boss gives an indication as to its own values.

Did LACS choose a feisty young veterinary surgeon? No. (Most vets I know would not want to have anything to do with the likes of LACS.) Did the organisation secure a charismatic figure from the world of nature conservation? No. (Most conservationists I know have a broadly realistic view of how conservation works in practice.) How about a campaigner who had devoted their life to working with animals? Er, no. (Most people who actually know about animals are not fervently anti-fieldsports.)

Instead, LACS chose a former council fat cat, who started out as a researcher for a shopworkers? union before entering what turned out to be a lucrative career as a local government bureaucrat. Last July, he left his job as chief executive of Newham, one of the most deprived boroughs in London, rather suddenly. It is interesting to note that he also left his previous employer, the Isle of Wight Council, after only two years. Despite his promise to transform the island, that council was awarded only a two-star rating. It seems to me that LACS may well have secured the chief executive it deserves.

Breaking news from the BBC!

The BBC?s intrepid newshounds have been at it again. Last week, elbowing in through all the coverage of the Budget, was a story from Danny Shaw, the Beeb?s Home Affairs correspondent. He raked up the issue of young shotgun certificate holders and presented it to the world as though it were something new and startling.

Yet this non-story, as many of you will know, has been dredged up by the antis on countless occasions. It has featured in hectares of newsprint, in everything from little local papers to screaming national red tops.

And every time, every single time, the ambitious hack who writes up this pressure group propaganda portrays it as a brand new, shock-horror revelation that has only been gained as a result of their own individual savvy and relentless investigatory powers. Usually, there is a breathless reference to a Freedom of Information Act request, and a phrase along the lines of ?the East Tiddleywink News Chronicle has uncovered…?.

Is it for repackaging this sort of story that we are made to pay our BBC tax (otherwise known as the licence fee) under pain of being sent to prison? Is this why the BBC?s ?brand values? are so worth protecting that we have to pay its top managers more than £800,000 a year?

The susceptibility of the BBC?s news-gathering people to carrying stories that give a certain view of rural affairs is well known. But even if the newsrooms at the fabulously rich, bloated corporation are still dominated by left-wing, urbanite, tofu-munching Guardianistas, does it really have to be so out of touch that it gives prominence to a synthetic story that has already featured in the local weekly newspapers now growing yellow and crinkly at the bottom of budgie cages across the land?

You have to wonder whether Danny Shaw and his editors have ever actually stepped outside Islington at any time in the last five years. Indeed, I wonder if Mr Shaw has ever actually visited a bit of working countryside? If he ever does venture out into that nasty green stuff, he should tread warily: sandals and cowpats are an unfortunate combination, I am told.

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