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Impact of Labour landslide not yet clear for fieldsports

Labour make commitment to increase firearms licensing fees, but will there be corresponding improvements in service from police forces?

Labour have won the general election with a colossal majority in what political commentators have dubbed the ‘Starmer tsunami’. 

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, says that Sir Keir Starmer has won from the political centre but questions whether he will govern from it. The Labour manifesto had no commitment to a right to roam and they have previously said they support “sustainable shooting conducted according to the law”. 

Before the election Labour pledged to end the badger cull, but only after the eradication of TB. Labour have also made a commitment to “close loopholes” in the 2004 Hunting Act, but as Tim Bonner notes, “A specific pledge to address perceived illegality is not the all-out attack on hunting that anti-hunting organisations wanted.” 

Labour have made a commitment to increase firearms licensing fees, aiming at full-cost recovery, branded a “gun tax” by the Telegraph. Countryside campaigners have long accepted a rise in firearms and shotgun licencing fees as necessary but have sought assurances from the government that such a hike would accompany firm commitments to improve the poor licencing service. 

Although there is no mention of it in their manifesto, the new Conservative MP for Mid Buckinghamshire, Greg Smith, has claimed that Labour plans to “secretly unleash a bombshell £1bn inheritance tax raid on farmers”. Mr Smith added that if Labour do remove the inheritance tax relief, “virtually every family-run farm in this country will die”. 

Labour branded the claims “desperate nonsense” but has refused to rule out scrapping inheritance tax relief for British farmland. 

British Association of Shooting and Conservation’s (BASC) executive director of communications and public affairs, Christopher Graffius, told ST: “BASC is ready to work with the incoming Labour government to ensure that shooting’s value to the UK economy and the contribution it makes to the conservation of our countryside is fully represented and acknowledged. 

“Shooting is worth £3.3bn to the UK economy, generates the equivalent of 67,000 jobs, and contributes £500m worth of conservation value each year. These are numbers that cannot be ignored. 

“Achieving positive outcomes for shooting remains BASC’s priority and we will work with all sides in the forthcoming parliament to achieve results that benefit shooting.” 

Further insight into future Labour policy will be given on 17 July when the King’s Speech will lay out Labour’s agenda for their first year.