Moore: "not suggesting any illegality"
Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore is determined to "ginger up" countryside organisations to be tougher with the Government to get their concerns addressed.
"Otherwise I think there will be a real revolt which will be a bad thing," he told Press Gazette.
But he is adamant that neither he nor the news-paper is advocating violent protest by the pro-hunting, shooting and fishing lobby.
His remarks recently to the Country Land and Business Association and a forceful leader in last Saturday’s paper suggest the Telegraph is ready to back a more militant attitude.
This was followed in Monday’s paper by a story from environment correspondent Charles Clover on the emergence of a unit called the Real Countryside Alliance, saying it may break the law to achieve its aims.
Moore stresses the two stories are entirely separate, that he does not approve of law breaking but says he is trying to ginger up some of the organisations involved. He is only reflecting the views of the readership, he maintains.
"I am not suggesting any illegality. I am suggesting that they should increase the temperature. Countryside organisations are naturally and admirably polite and unfortunately this Government doesn’t pay attention to that," he said.
He said Clover got his story because the Telegraph has good contacts in areas of countryside life. "But we are not supporting any faction," he said firmly. "We want to give the best account we can of what’s going on in the world of rural matters and the story is at present that there is a lot of dissatisfaction because people feel on a number of issues they can’t get the Government’s attention."
He had been trying to alert members of the Countryside Alliance to this in his speech, he said.
Moore is advocating picketing of constituency surgeries of all ministers involved with the hunting bill or the refusal to hold a public inquiry into the foot and mouth crisis, so they would always face a protest and he wants them deluged with protest e-mails: "Things which can impede, without being nasty, the working life of the people you are criticising so they have to pay you more attention. But violence would be quite wrong."
Asked if he would be prepared to carry out some of his own suggestions, he said: "Being an editor, I’m busy editing. But I took part in the Countryside March and may do so again. My point is a challenge to the organisations who are directly concerned in these matters to raise the game a bit."
If they did not, he thought, they would give ground to "more unrespectable organisations".
By Jean Morgan