Malta and the birds


Let me tell you about Malta. I had never been there before, and I have to say the Maltese are a fantastic bunch … a race of people full of friendliness, and pride in their home-grown qualities. Of course the whole island was honoured for its bravery in WWII. My Dad was one of the RAF Beaufighter airmen in 1942, during the blockade, fighting to keep Malta afloat, when the whole island was starving, and under attack from Sea and Air. So I was kinda proud to visit, too, to fill in a piece of my family history.

But let me tell you about the fight for decent treatment of wild animals in Malta, specifically wild birds. Of course, as in almost all countries, tradition has a lot to answer for, and Malta is no exception. Tradition, as with the fox hunters and shooters and despicable badger-baiters in the UK, is used to justify all sorts of abuse of animals, and it will take every ounce of strength from people pursuing decency to wipe out the ancient barbarism which lingers on. In Malta they have a tradition, held on to by a minority, but a powerful minority, in the face of the bulk of public opinion. They basically shoot all kinds of songbirds, including blackbirds and turtle doves, as they migrate through Maltese Airspace. Can it be justified in terms of these people being hungry, and needing to eat these small animals? No. Of course not … this is just another manifestation of the vestiges of savagery in Humans – it’s done for pleasure. It’s no use appeal to these people on the grounds of compassion, or empathy, or even acquiescence to what most people regard as common decency. They have to be stopped by law, and the law has to be enforced.

In Malta the Bird Society lobby managed to get 30,000 signatures on their petition to stop Spring Hunting (of the migratory birds). It would be good to stop ALL the shooting, of course, but it seems this has to be done one step at a time.

The law in Malta says that if you get this number of signatures a referendum must be held, and the result has to become law, no matter what the Government wants. So these bird protection people will get their referendum, and with about 60 per cent of the population in favour of a ban, they should get the law changed. In some cases the Government welcomes this process, because they can wash their hands of an embarrassing matter. That seems to be the case for the bird issue. The present Government is against hunting, but would find it hard to go against the small but powerful pro-hunting faction. So the referendum, (due to be held next year ?) just enables them to sidestep the issue and not make enemies in the hunting community.

WE NEED THIS KIND OF PROCEDURAL LAW in the UK to ensure that a Government’s behaviour does not stray too far from what the country as a whole wants. In the case of the Badger cull, it’s quite plain that Cameron is acting against the wishes of the majority of the people.

So Cameron and Paterson’s Badger-killing obsession is not democracy at work in the true meaning and spirit of the word, and it’s a matter which needs to be addressed at the highest level. Britain’s supposedly democratic system is failing the British people, and enabling this Government to declare a fundamentally immoral and unjustifiable war on wildlife, which is against the public interest.

This British Government must be stopped, one way or another. Let’s try to take a leaf out of Malta’s book.