Sunday, February 21, 2010

Foxhunting and the Tories

There's one issue where David Cameron hasn't changed his mind: repealing the hunting ban.

As the clock's ticking towards the general elections, the debate over the fox hunting ban (one of the issues that took centre stage in the early Noughties) is making an unexpected comeback.

On Thursday, an article by Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs Hilary Benn accused David Cameron's Conservatives of going against the will of at least 75% of public opinion as the Tories prepare to repeal the ban if they win the elections.

Echoing Cameron's own declarations that "the hunting ban is a bad piece of legislation", the party's "animal welfare spokesman", Andrew Rosindell, has allegedly pledged to have the repeal of the ban featured amongst the priorities for a Conservative government.

To many, fox hunting could prove the ultimate test over whether the Conservatives have truly moved forward or not under David Cameron. It is no coincidence that, in spite of very aggressive campaign tactics, the pro-hunting lobby has completely failed to convince the general public.

First, like Benn notes, "they tried to pit country against town", even though opposition to fox hunting is overwhelming in rural areas as well.

Second, they perpetrated the notion that the ban is "an unsubtle excuse for class war", as Catherine Bennett argues in today's "New" Observer, a claim embarrasingly at odds with the fact that so-called "lower classes' activities" such as dog fighting or badger baiting are completely illegal.

Third, there was the myth that fox hunting acts as pest control against a "large and unmanaged fox population", stopping short of saying that a ban would pave the way for foxes taking over the country, perhaps with some sort of socialist coup d'etat. Somehow that never materialised.

Four, they said (and still do) that the ban is not a priority and that Labour should worry about more important stuff - in which case why did they bother with all the hysterical demonstrations?

Finally, the pro-hunting lobby whipped up fears that a ban would cause massive job losses in the countryside and cripple rural economy. As if the risk of redundancy notices handed out to hangmen was the reason to retain capital punishment.

Either way, no significant impact on rural economy was recorded when Scotland banned hunting in 2002 or when the same took place in England and Wales in 2004 (which also outlawed hare coursing and stag hunting).

Evidence suggests that, while not perfect, the current legislation is certainly a step closer to civilisation than the old status quo where foxes and hares were chased for miles and their life ended when their organs were ripped to shreds.

In the space of five years, David Cameron has managed to perform one about face after the other: on Nelson Mandela, on the Minimum Wage, on the homophobic Section 28 and on same-sex civil partnerships.

Now he's got to realise there's one more to do: only five years ago he voted against the hunting ban. He may as well remember that, quite simply, animal cruelty is something Britain's voters don't like.

13 comments:

Babz said...

The trouble is that he probably does know but he doesn't consider the wishes of the majority as important enough to stop him from doing his hunting cronies a favour and restoring their right to kill desperate animals with packs of dogs. He is in the pocket of the Countryside Alliance who's thuggish members ride roughshod over anyone who doesn't agree with thier way of life. I really hope this important issue loses him the election, he is so patronisingly "cool" and smug, with his attitude that, like it or lump it, he is right and what he says goes.

Repeal the Ban! said...

What you lot don't grasp is that fox hunting could be the thin end of a very thick wedge and that shooting could be the next target for illiberal governments.

The Hunting Act is one of the most divisive pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in Britain. Fox hunting is still a much cherished way of life in rural England. It's a fact of nature and NOT a cruel sport. People are animals too and animals kill each other.

The fox does not anticipate death and is not unduly traumatised by the pursuit. Dogs kill it outright.

Five Chinese Crackers said...

Repeal the ban!

"What you lot don't grasp is that fox hunting could be the thin end of a very thick wedge and that shooting could be the next target for illiberal governments."

Hi Repeal - say hello to the slippery slope fallacy!

"Fox hunting is still a much cherished way of life in rural England."

Dog dighting is a much cherished way of life around some inner-city estates. Let's legalise it!

"It's a fact of nature and NOT a cruel sport. People are animals too and animals kill each other."

Fox hunting should be allowed because humans are animals and animals kill each other. How about legalised bull baiting, badger baiting and, er, murder? Fact of nature that animals kill each other, right?

"The fox does not anticipate death and is not unduly traumatised by the pursuit."

It runs for a laugh, presumably - which, of course, you know because the blokes in the red coats are also highly trained animal phychics.

"Dogs kill it outright."

That's alright then.

mhayworth said...

Well said!

There is no case for repeal. Hunt numbers are up all over the country. Drag hunting is legal. The sense of community, pageantry, heritage, and jobs are all still intact and yet these disgraceful people can’t manage to enjoy themselves unless they are terrifying and killing animals.

If you support the hunting act, please get your names on the R.O.A.R. (Register Online Against Repeal), an ‘all party’ list at: http://www.campaignfordecency.org.uk

Please make your voices heard!

mhayworth said...

In response to the post by 'Repeal the Ban! at 7:37pm'.

You need to stop falling for the hype of the Countryside Alliance and see that even most farmers are sick to death of the hunts trampling their land, causing massive damage, intimidating them if they complain, and using this issue to divide them politically from their urban friends who actually do care about the real issues affecting them. As the Burns report concluded, lamping is the most effective way to dispatch a fox - if and when necessary. If the hunts would stop breeding them for their sport, of course, it would certainly be less often 'necessary'.

Repeal the Ban! said...

Round of applause for Five Chinese Crackers and mhayworth. Well done for the tons of hyperbole.

Comparing dog fighting and fox hunting is unfair. Dog fighting is wholly barbaric, as bad as bull baiting, the epitomy of the vices and wickedness of the city.

It can go on for ages and can cause severe injury to the animals and involves extremely cruel training practices.

This doesn't happen with fox hunting. If you got out of your cosy urban bubble you'd know that AT WORST the fox is dead within a minute. Not the case with dog fighting which can go on for hours. The comparison is intellectually flawed.

As for the Hunting Act, even the police don't seem to know what they're trying to uphold. The ban is unenforceable: it puts law-abiding people at risk of prosecution; it diverts police attention from real crime; it brings no benefit to the environment; it is a blatant example of political prejudice, and it does nothing for the welfare or conservation of the species it claims to "protect".

Instead, hunting with dogs has the advantage of weeding out old, sick and weak animals because the strongest and healthiest foxes are those most likely to escape.

Emma said...

Fox hunting is only a 'cherished part of country life' for a very small minority of very rich people. So, that argument does not stand at all. In fact, you fox hunting folk do a good job of hacking a lot of farmers off by racing over their land.

If I was a fox being chased relentlessly by a pack of snarling dogs and pricks on horses I think I would be a bit traumatised, wouldn't you?

As for the individual who mentioned the 'urban bubble', are you saying that people who live in urbanised areas don't have the right to express opinions about this topic? I don't live in Zimbabwe but I still think Mugabe's an arsehole. Is that allowed?

"...hunting with dogs has the advantage of weeding out old, sick and weak animals because the strongest and healthiest foxes are those most likely to escape."

Why on earth do you lot need to weed out sick foxes? Is this some convoluted way of saying you care about their welfare? Ridiculous. Just leave them alone.

You people hide behind this cloak of 'We love the countryside, you guys are destroying our way of life' tosh, but roughly translated all that means is 'We love tormenting harmless animals for fun, it's give us the right jolly, and all you bloody city folk can bugger off because you live in flats, not manor houses and can't criticise'

Five Chinese Crackers said...

Repeal the ban:

Isn't banning dog fighting the thin end of the same wedge as foxhunting?

No fox has ever taken over a minute to die? How long does the chase last?

Oh wait - chase doesn't count because your animal psychics tell you the foxes love it.

That's arse, by the way. The fox is running in fear for it's life, to the point of exhaustion. It's not a lovely fluffly game of tag.

claude said...

Repeal the Ban yesterday at 10:22pm:

"The ban is unenforceable: it puts law-abiding people at risk of prosecution; it diverts police attention from real crime; it brings no benefit to the environment;"

That's not true and a bit of a blanket statement. You have zero evidence for that. Whereas evidence from both the RSPCA and the CPS are saying that the ban has been perfectly workable.

Also, diverting from real crime? That's a bit vague? What exactly should "real crime" be ? Do you decide that? Because for 75 to 82% of the UK population, fox hunting should be treated as one..

"It brings no benefit to the environment"
Neither does the ban on domestic violence. Are you sure you wanna legalise that too?

williamsjk said...

Really Claude. There have only been THREE convictions of a registered hunt violating the ban, and the most recent was in 2007.

So surely that means the ban is pointless. Repeal it and let the police get on with dealing with proper crime that actually affects those who pay their salaries (aka the taxpayers) only when that is at zero should they do anything else.

claude said...

williamsjk,
that's the trouble with relying upon Wikipedia.

Here's the official lowdown on prosecutions, fines and convictions for offences under the 2004 Hunting Act, England and Wales.

76 prosecutions, 56 convictions, and 49 fines and that's just for the years 2005, 2006, 2007.

williamsjk said...

Claude - sorry about wikipeida as a source, so here's a completely neutral one that also backs up my claim. 3 convictions with a total of 5 defendants convicted regarding .

Even Hilary Benn agrees the rest are just ways of getting people for poaching with a lower burden of proof. So my point still stands.

claude said...

I'm sorry but your link points to some "analysis" from the Countryside Alliance, which is as "neutral" and "objective" as Steve Gerrard passing comment on the state of football on Merseyside.