Animal rights campaigners PETA appear to be struggling somewhat, judging from their decision to pursue the Katie Hopkins strategy of winning headlines by shocking. Fresh from their call for that dentist who shot a lion to be hanged for his crime, this week they declared war on the beloved icon of Skegness, the Jolly Fisherman (pictured in his full jollity to the right).

Branding the poor old fisherman as “violent”, they wrote to the Mayor demanding he be retired:

‘…PETA say Skegness has ‘a unique opportunity to reach millions of people with a message of compassion by replacing Jolly Fisherman mascot with one that does not evoke images of animals being impaled in the face or suffocated in giant ocean-destroying nets.”

Three cheers, then, for Matt Warman, the newly-elected Conservative MP for Boston and Skegness, who has returned fire in a letter to PETA:

Dear Ms Carr,

I took great interest in your letter to Mr Carl Macey, the Mayor of Skegness, regarding your proposal to retire the Jolly Fisherman.

The Jolly Fisherman has been a large part of the lives of the people of Skegness and the millions of visitors for 107 years. While we all must retire at some point in our lives, I don’t believe that time has come for him just yet. The Jolly Fisherman is a hardworking mascot of Skegness; not many people have the stamina to remain in the skipping position for over 100 years without moving a muscle. Jolly is, and will be for many more years to come, an icon of the South Lincolnshire coast and seaside resorts.

I find your flippant suggestion to “let fish have their time in the sun” rather alarming. Fish, I’m led to believe, prefer to remain in water, but your suggested logo and mascot for Skegness depicts a fish out of water. I’m no expert, but I’m surprised to hear PETA thinks this is ethical treatment of animals.

Cod, Dab, and Bass, meanwhile, can all be caught off the coast of Skegness. Indeed many locals and tourists like to catch them for their dinner. Cod, Dab and Bass caught in our area of the sea are all considered sustainable fish according to information from the Marine Conservation Society. Your suggestion of using Plaice as the mascot for Skegness is inaccurate.

Anyone is always welcome to campaign or suggest improvements for the town. I am sure that the people of Skegness and our visitors will join me in looking forward to suggestions that show a rather greater familiarity with the history, culture and community of our fine seaside town.

Yours Sincerely,

Matt Warman MP

DawnCarr PETA RE Jolly Fisherman