Armchair Activism

Posted: April 5, 2016 in Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

A slight change of tack for me this week and hopefully there’ll be more in the future. I’ve invited some guest writers to put their thoughts and ideas out there, it’s a chance for some new points of view to be aired so I hope dear readers you’ll enjoy and maybe learn something new. First up we have the man behind Stop the Cull, badger warrior and general thorn in the side to the Government and NFU . . . Jay Tiernan.

Jay is going to explain how you can get active without getting muddy.

I’m a keyboard warrior, and you should be too.

“..yet my mind was not at rest, because nothing was acted, and thoughts ran into me, that words and writings were all nothing, and must die, for action is the life of all, and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing,” – Gerrard Winstanley

What could be better than words that highlight how useless words are? Well I’d suggest petitions, one step up from a motivational quote and one step below a letter to an MP. There they sit on our stalls and littering facebook, but are they really any good and if so how can we best make use of them? Love them or loathe them there is no denying that they can be used to make people aware of a specific campaign.

They are frequently used by activists doing stalls on our high streets. When asked “do they make any difference?” I’d always reply “No, we quite often just burn them. The only use they serve is to get you to chat to me and maybe give me some money, if you want to change the world then you have to physically do something, talking about it won’t do it”. I still believe that action is the only way forwards, but my view that petitions actually work has recently changed.

Online petitions frequently don’t by themselves achieve very much, but in tandem with actions they are a useful device to raise awareness and are a key tool for modern day online activism.

stop the cull

Indeed there are a number of petitions I can think of in the last year that have done really well, that have raised awareness on an issue which has then gone on to win. Most recently was the wildlife officer who was outed as a hunt supporter. Another petition campaign that also won that comes to mind is the demand for the huntsman who rode over a sab having their charges dropped then brought back by the CPS. In both cases the petitions alone did not work, they worked side by side with other actions, with the wildlife officer there were a number of blog posts and social media posts exposing other elements of police collusion with hunters and with the hunt sab being ridden over there was a demo which gained a lot of media attraction.

So what else can we do from the comfort of our own homes that will work effectively at changing the world besides petitions?

Writing an email to your MP can be frustrating but it’s worth doing if for no other reason than to get MP’s aware of the issues that concern their constituents, you can combine any response from your MP along with the issue you are raising with a letter to your local paper and to national press. These letters are read by potentially tens of thousands of people. A comprehensive list of national press letters page contacts here:

Twitter can be great for directly contacting people, whether it’s the chief of police to let them know about an officers behaviour or to publically shame an animal abuser. Twitter trends can often be easily used. For instance #dorsethour trends every week and it’s a good time to let people in Dorset about the upcoming badger culls.

Facebook posts that highlight an issue can have a huge reach, including contact details for the people who can make a change are an important part of this, so highlighting a managing director for their companies involvement with their contact details means that the problem is quickly being addressed by a key decision maker. It can also create controversy which in turn may get picked up by main stream press. A useful resource for finding CEO’s is here:

Many people wrongly assume that it is illegal to publicise contact details for businesses or people, it isn’t and a recent industrial tribunal looking at why Natural England decision not to release certain information with the defence that it would be unsafe for those involved to be revealed was overruled. Specifically the tribunal said that it was part of the democratic process for protesters to contact by mail and phoning those who are involved in the badger cull. Big national waged animal rights groups are often afraid of any adverse publicity, we should not be.


Another easy way to get a companies attention is by highlighting their Facebook page, many small businesses have FB pages as well. Hunt Sab groups often post links to pubs where hunts meet, by giving the pubs 1 star reviews on Facebook and any other review website many pubs have very quickly decided to no longer host meets. Phone calls are also very important, I once rang up a pub that had just had press off the back of a hunt meet and was quoted as being delighted to be hosting the hunt meet. I informed the owners that I’d be organising an on-line boycott of the pub, they immediately decided to never host a hunt meet again.

It’s not just pubs that host hunts, mostly it’s farmers and those farmers are probably the weakest link in the hunting world. Whilst a number of them are die hard hunters, many farmers have no interest in having hunts rampaging over their fields and being highlighted on social media and getting calls of complaint could well be the excuse they need to pull out, meaning that they never allow the hunts to hunt across their land again.

To find phone numbers and contact details there are a number of on-line resources you can use to find out more contact details for a person or company, is probably the best but isn’t free. Google is my usual first stop, using “ “ helps refine searches. After I’ve searched a name and an address and found a land line number I’ll search that again using quotes and that will give much more accurate results. The land registry office will tell you who owns land, you can get some free information by using their map search facility.

Once you have a postcode you can start searching any planning permission requests, which in turn can give you a map of the property boundary, very useful for shooting estates or farms that allow hunting.

If a hunt loses farmers and land to hunt on, then a entire neighbouring areas within their country can also become inaccessible making the future of the hunt harder and harder. This is one of the reasons that an Essex hunt closed down in the past weeks.

To expect sabs who have been out in the fields and who are also holding down full time jobs to do all the research and run an ongoing campaign is probably expecting too much, all the supporters of sab groups can do more than just ringing up or writing reviews, we can also help out with research and exposing those involved with hunting.

Words mean nothing, action is everything.

Stop the Cull

  1. Lynne Coleman says:

    Jay Tiernan for Prime Minister !!!!

  2. Luisa says:

    Also please don’t underestimate the power of a good tweet storm – this is a prescripted mass sending of tweets by a large group of people. I do this often it has a good effect.

  3. steven broadbent says:

    A nice letter to who is involved seems to work .Including the Police .

  4. Fi says:

    For actual letter writing, especially these days, I think a lot of people don’t bother because they think it’s too much hassle to find an envelope and a stamp and a postbox. There is this app
    which for a small fee (I think it’s 90p) will ensure that your letter is printed and mailed. 10 000 actual letters deposited on someone’s doorstep is probably going to have more effect than 10 000 emails. You can even set up templates in it for supporters to simply sign and /or add comments to it of their own. You can do it from your phone if you like.

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