JAN 1ST 2004
has been a country sport and a means of controlling the wild fox
population in the UK for hundreds of years. It has been a popular
equestrian activity amongst the others, and an important part of the
rural economy and society. The details can be examined in hundreds of
documents available in libraries and on the web.
It has been suggested in recent times that fox-hunting is 'cruel' and
should be abandoned. A number of people have gone as far
as to promote this idea publicly, taking advantage if the lack of
knowledge and experience of modern urban populations. It even became a
cause celebre within the RSPCA which became the target of the
anti-hunting activists who joined the organisation for the express
purpose of subverting it to their own ends .
The present Labour government
inadvisedly adopted the abolition of fox-hunting as part of its
election manifesto, promising a free vote on the issue. Individual MPs,
with little idea of the facts, included an anti-hunting stance in their
Sensing rather late in the day
that if such a fundamental activity, involving horses, hounds, riders
and all the trades and businesses associated including several
activities that involved the needs of farmers well beyond the control
of foxes was to be suddenly abolished on the grounds that it had been
discovered, at the end of the 20th century, that it was 'cruel', they
had better make sure that this was a correct diagnosis, the government
asked Lord Burns to take evidence from all those he could find who had
experience that might be relevant. He was then to produce a report.
The Burns report did not come
up with any evidence of cruelty other than the highly contested opinion
of anti-hunting activists, or aberrant and rare behaviour that was not
part of proper practises. The most he could come up with which might be
construed to support the case for the abolitionists was that hunting
with dogs might be 'prejudicial to the welfare of the fox.' It is
therefore of supreme importance now to examine this conclusion to see
if it logical and therefore a conclusion on which legislation can be
The words 'The Fox', as used
by Lord Burns, can mean one of two things.
1. It can mean a
specific fox used as an example, an instance, where the fox is hunted,
caught and killed by the hounds. In that case, Lord Burns is
undoubtedly correct. In the case of that individual fox its life is
most certainly terminated. There are no half measures. A fox caught by
hounds is killed instantly. Its welfare might be said to be prejudiced
to an infinite degree. However in this meaning of the words 'The Fox',
this is exactly what is required. It avoids cruelty to the individual
fox. It is worth noting in passing that alternative methods do not
satisfy this criterion. If this is the sense in which Lord Burns wished
his curious phrase to be understood then he is clearly not intending
that it should be used as a reason for abandoning fox-hunting.
2. It can mean 'The Fox' as a
species. This common grammatical usage is sometimes referred to as
'4-Dimensional' - the fox over time, emerging as it evolves from other
species and then settles into a niche in the animal kingdom and a
period of quasi-stability during which it plays its part as part of the
super-organism that is life on this planet and the particular limb that
is life, in this case, in the UK. When we examine this meaning of the
words 'The Fox', however, it is beyond all reasonable or possible doubt
that Lord Burns did not intend this to be how his words should be
understood. It is certain that far from being prejudicial to 'The Fox'
as a species, hunting is entirely beneficial, as it is to the horses
that take part, to the riders, the hounds, the saddlers and the
community as a whole. There is no need here to go into the precise
reasons why it is so beneficial, the world is full of biologists who
can testify tho this.
The Burns Report can therefore
be seen as wholly favourable to the continuation of hunting in the most
positive and unreserved terms providing of course that there are no
deliberately cruel practises associated that we have not covered here.
What action, therefore, should
the Government take? Having discovered that the premises on which a
free vote on the abolition of fox-hunting with dogs was contemplated
are non-existent, that the abolition would be highly prejudicial to the
welfare of 'The Fox' as a species, that the alternatives involve
unnecessary suffering for individual foxes, that a hunting ban
infringes basic human rights and would bring to an end a healthy and
excellent activity, they should explain this to their MPs and withdraw
the bill. It is the responsibility of the government in a parliamentary
democracy to inform themselves of the facts and not to offer as options
the framing of laws which are based on information known to be false.
When the results of passing
such a law are as divisive and destructive as the one contemplated
here, to proceed with it would lead to nothing less than civil war.
Those who think that for some reason that could not happen here are
very much mistaken. It would not be the hunting fraternity that would
take up arms alone. It would be all those who would refuse to stand by
to see such an abuse of the parliamentary system.
In the meantime, it would be
sensible if Lord Burns were to make it clear what the words in his
report mean so that it is not used by knaves to make a trap for fools,
or there for fools to fall into of their own accord.
UPDATE SEPT 5th 2004
Although it is hard to believe, a majority of Labour MPs are still not
aware of the folly of voting to ban Fox Hunting. In their manifesto,
the party committed not to a ban but to a free vote. Normally, a free
vote in parliament is a device used to allow an ethical decision to be
taken on a policy matter where the outcome is not linked to an article
of faith of the party granting the freedom to its members. Of course it
should not produce a totally ludicrous result, putting at risk the
reputation of parliament. So it is important to commission expert
advice and ensure that all MPs can read it or have it read to them.
This has been done, but it appears that the Burns report is not written
in language that all MPs can understand.
The report does not give grounds to support the argument that
fox-hunting is other than a healthy, proper and excellent activity.
The report does not support the argument that other methods of managing
the fox population are preferable, even if they have to be used to
supplement hunting with hounds.
The report does not support the argument that cruelty is involved in
any part of th activity, unless there are abuses by cruel or
thoughtless individuals, which should of course be effectively punished
and thereby prevented in future.
The above arguments would have to be proved, and shown to be tending to
the extreme before a ban could be so much as contemplated. The reverse
If, in the face of this, a majority in the House of Commons were to
vote for a ban, I think that is the end of all credibility for the
House. Should the ban become law, I hope that hundreds of thousands of
people who can ride but have never hunted before, will come to the
support of the hunts and swell their ranks to more than double. If the
horses are impounded by government, I hope they will take whatever
action is necessary to release them, with assistance from the majority
of the public, to whom it is clear a ban is abhorrent. There is no way
a ban on fox-hunting can be accepted as constitutional, desirable,
necessary or, to put it bluntly, sane.
Using the Parliament Act to push through a ban would be completely
unjustified. A Fox-Hunting ban has nothing to do with the political
birth or articles of faith of any party - it is a bee in the bonnet of
certain individuals, based on ignorance. The manifesto commitment is to
a free vote, nothing more. It cannot achieve any social
objective. It is not the wish of a majority of the nation. It is not an
EU objective. It will never be a global objective or standard. There
can therefore be not the smallest justification for using the
Parliament Act to override the deliberations and decisions of the House
of Lords. If the Lords are collectively stupid enough to vote for a
ban, then it must be accepted, but it would wrap up their credibility
too for most thinking people.
SEPT 8th 2004
According to yesterday's Evening Standard a 'deal' has been struck with
the anti-hunting Labour MPs that the legislation will be enacted as
long as they agree that it is not applied for two years. That just
about sums it up. On the one hand they claim that use of the Parliament
Act is justified to enforce the will of parliament representing the
people, on the other hand they say the same people would not vote them
into power if they really knew what banning hunting would mean. This is
what comes of forming an opinion before investigating the facts and
applying some logic. Opinions should come last; and if there are enough
facts available, logically ordered, they speak for themselves without
the need for personal opinions.
SEPT 15th 2004
Today was a sad day for Parliament. The houses used to be open to the
public, a place where people could go to speak to their representatives
and watch them in action. Today's fracas will only result in more
security and less trust between MPs and the public. But when the
representatives betray this trust to the degree they have in voting for
this crazy ban, what can we expect. Law and order is only kept in a
democracy because the people believe at least to some extent in the
sanity and educational qualifications of their leaders. When they
realise they are a bunch of chumps, capable of destroying their
livelihoods through complete ignorance, equanimity is lost - to put it
We should not, Frankie Howerd used to remind us, mock the afflicted. No
doubt Tony Banks had some bad experiences in his formative years. You
only have to listen to him to realised he is damaged goods. But while
we should not mock such people there is no call to be governed by them,
or people representing the misinformed, any more than one would ask a
drunken horseman to pilot a passenger aircraft. Even Andrew Marr,
usually a beacon of knowledge and sanity, proclaimed that we were
witnessing a battle between freedom and democracy. This would have been
a magically wise statement if it had been in any way applicable. But it
is not. There is no case against fox-hunting. Those who want it banned
on the grounds of cruelty are simply ignorant of the facts of life, of
biology, psychology and many other -ologies I can think of. They have
been told there is no case by those who know and are not ignorant; and
even Lord Burns (who does not know one way or the other) pronounced
himself convinced by those who did, as I have already explained at
great length here. It is nothing to
do with freedom, and certainly nothing to do with democracy. It
is the unqualified speaking in the name of people they have themselves
misinformed with rhetoric, on this and other issues, designed to win
them a seat. It is chaos and
it is madness.
Unless this bill is defeated at a later stage of Parliamentary scrutiny
and discussion, what happened today in the way of disorder will be
nothing to what will happen later. I would dearly like to tell you here
what will happen, as that is my business here, but in this case I will
button my lip for the moment and say only it will put previous
experiences of disorder since the civil war into perspective, because
respect for parliament, the most important element of stability in a
democracy, will have been trashed and all trace of trust in the
intelligence and integrity of a majority MPs (not all, I emphasise) has
CLICK HERE FOR KATE HOEY ON THE FOX HUNTING BILL
SEPT 18th 2004
So, let us set to and see how we can
avoid this absurd and unnecessary
catastrophe. History is not predestined. There are attainable goals for
life and for humanity to reach. They may or may not be reached here on
this planet, but that is up to us. Not every acorn becomes an oak, but
the potential is there. The way forward on this issue is to take
advantage of what has just happened. It looks like a set-back for both
sides: so we must turn it around and use the events for good to both
sides. That means looking at the arguments on that these
events will have raised to a higher level than before. By examining
them, the truth will emerge.
Let us look at the arguments of those in
favour of the ban and treat them seriously.
"A practice is either cruel or it is
not, and if it is we should outlaw
"Naturally, people ask
whether we were implying that hunting is cruel... The short answer to
that question is no. There was not sufficient verifiable evidence or
data safely to reach views about cruelty."
Fox hunting is not cruel, but
Widdecmbe's statement is anyway defective
from start to finish. There are degrees of
stress, and/or pain involved in all activities which range over scale
from 0 (imperceptible to the agent) to 100% (unbearable and likely to
bring about local or general insensibility as a relief). That has
little to do
with cruelty, which is:
The infliction of unnecessary
stress or pain
either for gratification or because a known alternative, less painful
procedure within the means of those involved, to
reach a properly justified, accepted and desired end, is not employed.
we can see
that a practice cannot be classified as either painful or not, only
more or less painful; and
cruelty depends on a scale of
knowledge of the agent as well as the
alternatives. Those with knowledge that under such a definition an
action is cruel, are entitled to campaign for laws to stop those who
unaware of it, as well as those who are knowingly cruel, from such
actions. It this case, the complete reverse has come about. Those with
no understanding have campaigned against a practice which is not cruel
under any meaningful definition, to abandon it in favour of
alternatives which are.
Widdecombe cites bear-baiting, cockfighting and badger-baiting,
obviously cruel activities under the criteria I have set out
above, as precedent for a ban. "If we
let minorities carry on with any sport regardless of it ethicality, we
would never have banned these" she proclaims. So let us look at her
reasons for supposing fox-hunting is unethical.
"1. Causing fear to an animal is
cruel, causing prolonged fear is
No, because we are not talking about fear as Anne Widdecombe imagines
it in humans. A fox being hunted by hounds is not the subject of any
more than the chickens a fox may chase and kill are the subjects of any
cruelty by the fox. There are those
who say that because a fox kills more than he needs or carries away at
the time, it does it for fun. That is not the case. It kills
them because the opportunity is there. It may not have the chance to
come back and pick up the others, but that is not known or considered
by the fox at
the time who has to take every opportunity on the spur of the moment.
The riders who follow the hounds do indeed get enjoyment out of the
ride, whether a fox is found and caught or whether there is nothing
found all day. A prolonged chase by hounds often means that the fox
escapes. It is the older or less healthy ones that are caught. This is
the same for all animal life. Widdecombe thinks now that humans are in
control it is time to take the words 'The lion shall lie down
with the lamb' literally.
I am reminded by the extraordinary statement of Father Trevor
Huddlestone the famously selfless priest who worked tirelessly in South
Africa to help the poor and abused. Interviewed on his religious
beliefs, he professed a profound problem in reconciling a loving God
with a world that included pain and suffering. There may be others who
have a problem here, but this was from a man who was
a luminary of the faith that above all others proclaimed the immanence
of the creator in creation, as well as the means of transcendence. If
ever did read the New Testament (and I assume he had), he sure as
anything did not understand it. Widdecombe seems to be in the same
state of confusion. We should be grateful that she is literate. Many
seriously confused people cannot explain their confusion. She has laid
it out for all to see. It is a useful object lesson. We should also be
grateful she is not on the pro-hunting side as she would probably so
confuse its thinking as to convert people to antis, as she is inclined
to do with other reasonable causes.
"2. Chasing an animal until it can no
longer outrun its pursuit and then letting it be set on by a pack of
dogs is scarcely the hallmark of civilisation...."
Note the careful choice of words to disguise and distort the truth. A
technique used by those in some form of denial. The truth is that the
up the search for a fox. The hounds scent the fox. They chase it. If
they catch it, they kill it. The hunters on horseback are there to keep
up and control the pack rather than have it out of control, going
anywhere. Others follow as best they may, learning and practising the
art of horsemanship, so that the art and science can be maintained
across the generations for the good of all concerned.
"...an argument can be made for
tolerating such ungodly
conduct if there was (sic) no other way of
controlling the fox population. Yet Burns found that only six per cent
of all fox destruction is done by hunting. In other words hunting is a
most ineffective from of pesticide and there is no utilitarian, let
alone moral, argument for its retention."
Here she has shot herself not just in the foot but in the heart. I will
pass on the absurdity of the invocation of her god, as whatever it, he
she is, it has
certainly nothing to do with any church she has stumbled across in her
confusion. The reason only six percent of foxes are 'destroyed' by
hunting is that there are too few hunts, and they hunt too little.
Hunting and the keeping of horses could be a lot cheaper if riding was
more popular. Horses do not have to be owned by their riders, they can
be shared or rented. But since we tend towards becoming a nation of
obese armchair pontificators like Widdecombe, or urban troublemakers
with nothing to do because the state does not take an initiative to
encourage them to ride and hunt, there is shortage of good people and
true to do a good job on the weekend and enjoy the exercise and fresh
The moral case for fox hunting is solid - it is the way the fox has
evolved to expect his threat to individual survival. It is what it has
the right to expect, the right to pit its wits against the pack, and
follows the proper laws of natural selection for wild animals.
Widdecombe complains it is ineffective - it is not. It is the only
right way to control foxes in the countryside that is able to select
its victim by the combination of luck and skill and performance on both
sides. As for urban foxes, it is not practical to unleash a hunt
through our crowded streets and back alleys. If it were, Widdecombe
would find out the moral case was unassailable there too.
As for Widdecombe's claim that passing the bill was a triumph of
democracy, I have dealt with that in many previous paragraphs. So far,
it is an example of how parliamentary democracy can be abused. Should
the Parliament Act be invoked, it would be the most unbelievable abuse
of that Act that can be imagined.
JOHANN HARI writes:"Country life is only possible
because of townie generosity"
How little he knows. Yes, 'we townies' (as he describes himself and,
patronisingly, his readers) do indeed give more than 5 billion directly
to farmers every year. Perhaps he might take the trouble to find out
why. It is a tangled web of historic intricacy in which the people who
actually do the work of maintaining the countryside and farming crops
and livestock are the only heroes. There have indeed been some abuses,
manipulation of flawed agricultural policies by landowners, by banks
and investment companies on behalf of trade unions as well as other
investors. In the competitive scramble for security or profit there
have been all sorts of massive movements of funds, sometimes by
government, sometimes by others. The movement from the search for food
security after the war, through the drive for efficiency through
economics of scale and mechanization, to the creation of surpluses that
took tax payers money to flood world markets and hurt the producers of
what we called the Third World, it has not been a blameless story. But
the 'townies' do not these days pay any more to farmers than they have
to, and well they know it.
Farmers and other country dwellers have stuck to their essential tasks,
on which the town dwellers depend utterly without knowing or
understanding. Town dwellers throughout the world are destroying the
planet, running out of water, and inventing ever more inessential
occupations in their race to make money.Their lifestyles are totally
unsustainable. Their activities have only been made possible by the
increase in efficiency of farmers which enables so many people to be
other than farmers. If it were not for this, growing enough food to
survive would occupy every family in the land. If the countryside were
not there, life would not be sustainable for other reasons. The health
crisis afflicting this country and about to bankrupt the national
Health Service is an urban disease. Of course there are some
country people who are objectionable, and Mr Hari may have met a few,
but this is no excuse for his rant in Friday's Independent which he
ought not to be proud. He makes a lot of noise for such a young man who
would be advised to find out a bit more about life. It is not
generosity that causes money to be paid to farmers and others to
maintain the countryside. It is the knowledge that the without the
countryside and its working inhabitants they could not survive, and
there is no reservoir of young townies coming on who have the great
variety of skills and knowledge required who could be to encouraged or
even forced to take over the vital tasks.
Cannon TONY CHESTERMAN writes in the
"Fox hunting is about having fun, and
killing a creature, any creature for fun is wrong in that it erodes our
moral sensibilities. It dehumanises
those who engage in the practice. Fox hunting is the adult equivalent
of pulling wings off flies. It is basically and fundamentally wrong,
end of argument."
I have known a few masters of foxhounds. They were remarkably human. In
fact they were exceptionally human and humanitarian, artistic and
animal lovers. I particularly remember the late Dorian Williams - I
recommend Tony Chesterman to examine his life and works. Riding to
hounds can be 'fun', I suppose, but most who do it would describe it
bit more respectfully. It is quite risky, it can engage a great deal of
skill, and involves a complex and admirable relationship between a
great many people and animals. The death of the fox is not fun, it is
quick but important and a central symbolic event if it occurs. As for
the comparison of pulling the wings off flies [has anybody actually
ever done this??] which is not a physically or mentally uplifting
exercise, nor necessary, the absurd and pompous Tony Chesterman will no
doubt come to realise what a foolish letter he has written. I must
thank the editor for publishing it as it can only help the hunting
cause, but with clergy like this, I think the church is in for a poor
THEN THERE ARE THOSE WHO COMPLAIN
BECAUSE HOUNDS THAT ARE PAST THEIR USEFUL WORKING LIFE ARE PUT DOWN. They
that this cruel. It s the very opposite. Though their is nothing to
stop someone who wishes to keep a fox-hound as a pet after its working
life, it would probably be a very great disappointment to the animal,
used the companionship of its fellow and a disciplined an active life.
I suggest those who think a foxhound has an unhealthy, unhappy life
take a close look at them before during and after a hunt. No, the
breeding, handling and management of fox-hounds is a worthy occupation
that should be supported wholeheartedly by the RSPCA and kept to a high
standard. If their are any abuses they should indeed be curbed. Putting
hounds down after their hunting days are over is the right procedure.
The alternatives would be either intolerable, unmanageable,
unaffordable or cruel if attempted on any significant scale.
THEN THERE ARE THE LEADER WRITERS
who claim (I paraphrase) "We are
told the protesters include people from every walk of life, but the
protesters turn out to be upper class" or words to that effect.
So are some people excluded from all walks of life? Are the so-called
upper classes not a life form? Should those who are well off and
support and take part in hunts leave the protesting to those less well
off whose income is threatened? I rather think not. It was the duty of
those who entered the House of Commons to do so, If for no other reason
than to expose the lack of intelligence of those who thought it was
impossible without inside help. It was also their duty as leaders of
the active hunting community to stand up and be counted. They are to be
congratulated. It cannot be said that they made fools of MPs because
the voting on this bill proves beyond doubt a majority of them were
I will not go on, there are so many confused, pompous and ignorant
people who have joined the anti fox-hunting lobby that they speak for
themselves. The more they talk, the more they fall down. You can judge
the worthiness of the cause either by those who represent each side, or
by the quality of the arguments they present. There is Steve Jones, the
self-publicising so-called expert on genetics who has used arguments
rather like some of the above. A 'journalist's scientist' - he makes
more money that way, and journalists are such suckers, knowing
(understanding) no science themselves. It is no contest.
So there you have it dear reader. Good will come out of the bad
happenings inside and outside Parliament because we will now REALLY
start to here the arguments of the ant-fox hunting lot, and that will
be what sinks them, the exposure of their poor education and/or their
utter confusion and/or their blatant lies to support their own state of
25th SEPT 2004
It is vital now to avoid negative tactics and turn all the energies of
the supporters of fox hunting to promoting the activity. Young people
need healthy outdoor activities. Riding could become much more popular
and hunting is exciting riding and could become much less expensive if
more people took it up. Protests against the Bill should concentrate on
getting MPs to understand the valid points raised by Kate Hoey, and
then on why they should actively support hunting. Hoey's speech during
the debate was described as brave. I would
describe it as accurate and the least she could do, knowing what she
does.about fox-hunting, parliament and her colleagues. Here is the link
to it, in case you missed it.
KATE HOEY ON THE FOX HUNTING BILL.
Now at least it is clear. The commons has been unable to face the facts
- well how could they? The 'facts' now include admitting their own
stupidity and ignorance and nobody will ever admit to that. If they use
the Parliament Act, they will be challenged in the courts for abuse.
There are those who say the Parliament Act itself is unconstitutional
and was never properly instituted. But even if it has been, it was
never designed or intended to force through legislation based on a free
vote of misinformed members acting against the evidence of the enquiry
they commissioned, on an issue that does not carry popular support in
the country as a whole. It is better, in a way, to have avoided the
compromise bill that had been proposed. Let's finish with this rubbish.
law comes into effect. The appeal against the validity of the
Parliament act has failed. The Parliament Act is
indeed valid legislation, but a ban was not a manifesto pledge, only a
free vote after an examination
of the evidence. The evidence was ignored, there is not a majority in
the country in favour of a ban,
so the use of the Parliament Act was wrong even though it is a valid
act. If it going to be abused in this
way it should be repealed by a future parliament. I would prefer it to
remain and not be abused.
However Lord Wolfe's judgement was correct, the use of a valid
Parliament act is a matter for Parliament. I hope the next election
will be fought on the basis of voting for MPs who are for or against
the ban, regardless of which party they stand for. That way will get
sane MPs, which is all we need to ensure they refrain from voting for
insane legislation on any matter.
UPDATE APRIL 20th 2005 - The General
The enlarged italics in the Reuters report below are mine. I never
realised that there really was a class-war element here. I thought it
was just ignorance about animal welfare. But it seems not
Labour braced for hunt ban
anger at ballot box
|Wednesday April 20, 07:04 AM
- Rural Britons are in
revolt and mounting a determined but almost certainly doomed bid to
stop Tony Blair's Labour party winning an unprecedented third term in
elections next month.
Never admirers of Labour, the hunting,
shooting and fishing brigade have been finally spurred to action by a
deeply divisive ban on fox-hunting with dogs that came into force in
"The ban typified everything that is
wrong with this government. It is an unnecessary and cowardly attack on
a minority," said Patrick Webster, chairman of the 170-year-old
Albrighton Hunt in the northwestern county of Shropshire.
has been a catalyst, turning a
reservoir of pent-up anger over the foot and mouth disaster and the
loss of public services in rural areas into a pool of energy," he told
Reuters in his home, an old farmhouse set amid yellow oilseed rape
That is not to say that this historic
rural haven 150 miles northwest of London no longer echoes to the
hullabaloo of hunting with blaring horns and baying hounds. It is just
that they now have to shoot the foxes if they find them.
Blair, his personal standing in tatters
over the Iraq war, goes to the polls on May 5 in the hope of
entrenching his Labour party's 161-seat majority but with some pundits
predicting that huge margin could be as much as halved.
Galvanised by the hunt ban, a body
calling itself Vote-OK is targeting more than 130 marginal Labour
constituencies to support opposition pro-rural candidates.
assist within the constituency when
asked to," said local organiser Clare Sawers. "We are not putting
forward any candidates of our own. At the moment it is mostly leaflets."
Although the majority of these opposition
candidates are from the right-leaning Conservative party, small
regional parties are also being supported -- the aim being to evict the
sitting Labour member.
Labour has always been an urban-based
party, springing out of the industrial heartlands while the
Conservatives -- who ruled Britain for a large part of the 20th century
-- have found their support among the landed gentry and middle classes.
is hard to see tiny Wroxeter as a
battleground, but the area is no stranger to strife, sitting on an
ancient crossing of the River Severn next to once warlike Wales and
below the ruins of Viroconium -- Roman Britain's fourth largest city.
stench of the funeral pyres of
millions of cattle and sheep slaughtered to stop the foot-and-mouth
epidemic that briefly delayed the last election in 2001 has gone.
it has been replaced by smouldering anger over what is seen as a
blatant attack on the rural way of life.
Some 400,000 people took to the streets
of London in 2002 to protest at the coming hunting ban and the
dilapidation of public services in rural areas -- a particularly sore
point with pensioners who form a significant part of the electorate
The anger is deep in Shropshire's Wrekin
constituency -- the model for Middle Earth in Tolkien's Lord of the
Rings -- where Labour member of parliament Peter Bradley is a keen
supporter of the ban and also seen by many as unashamedly anti-rural.
"We ought at last to own up to it: the
struggle over the Bill was not just about animal welfare and personal
freedom; it was class war," he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph last
And, as with the reasons for going to war with Iraq, trust is also a
"They lied to us. They said it was all to
do with animal welfare but then Bradley admitted it was part of the
class struggle -- them against us," said farm college student James
However, Wyn Grant, professor of politics
at Warwick University said the hunting ban could play well among urban
voters for whom animal welfare was an emotional issue.
is an emotive issue that could bring Labour voters out," he said.
it is not just local issues that are fuelling the fires of resentment
in the countryside.
Rural Britons are just as concerned over the election's big issues like
schools, hospitals and law and order.
are not fooling ourselves. The
farming community is just one percent of the electorate. But there is a
deeper malaise in the country too," hunt chairman Webster said.
can make a difference in the marginal constituencies, and maybe
don't think the Conservatives will win
this election. But I think there is a real chance that Labour can lose
it," he added with a fervent gleam in his eyes.
END OF REUTERS REPORT.
So, we shall see...
has been enforced for the first time. A legalistic decision which
might be reversed on appeal but, the law itself has to be
A huntsman is to appeal
following his conviction for illegally hunting
Man to appeal foxhunting conviction
Friday August 4, 05:36 PM
Exmoor Foxhounds huntsman Tony
Wright was prosecuted after he was
filmed chasing two foxes across Exmoor with two hounds. The 52-year-old
was fined £500 and ordered to pay £250 costs by District
Palmer at Barnstaple Magistrates' Court, Devon.
Wright, of Exmoor Kennels,
Simonsbath, pleaded not guilty to
the charge of hunting a fox on April 29 last year, contrary to the
Hunting Act 2004. The private prosecution
by the League Against Cruel
Sports was the first in England against a
fox or stag hunt under the act.
Wright claimed he was operating
under an exemption in the Act, with
dogs and a marksman. The exemption stipulated the fox had to be shot as
soon as possible after it was flushed, and the hounds had to be closely
controlled to enable the shooting to take place.
But district judge Paul Palmer,
who watched two League videos
from April 29, when two foxes were seen to be followed, told Wright:
"What I saw was not exempt hunting."
reasonable steps were not
taken to shoot the fox as
soon as possible, and hounds were not closely controlled as required by
the exemption. The judge said long after the foxes were flushed they
were being followed by the hounds - hunting in his view.
Richard Furlong, for the League,
said their costs were
After the case, Wright said he
did not feel like a criminal and
added: "I can assure you we will be continuing and trying to stay
within the Act as I always have done."
The Countryside Alliance (CA)
said they would be supporting
Wright's appeal. Ca president Labour peer Baroness Ann Mallalieu, said:
"If this judgment is to stand it would be impossible to use dogs of any
sort to flush foxes from almost anywhere. The Act has got to be
repealed and will be repealed."
The League's head of public
affairs Mike Hobday said: "This
case makes it clear chasing foxes with hounds is a criminal offence.
Those people who still get their entertainment from being cruel to
foxes are being put on notice their activities have been found
hunters meeting in Kent at the start of the new season say the
ban which came into force last year has made the sport more popular
Fox hunting ban 'boosts support'
DECEMBER 27th 2006
We're still here and we'll carry
on: hunts put on Boxing Day show of strength
turn out for traditional gathering
· Opponents promise to use Asbos against lawbreakers
Wednesday December 27, 2006
supporters gathered near the Balmer Lawn Hotel in Hampshire to toast
the start of the traditional Boxing Day hunt yesterday morning, master
of the New Forest hounds, Paul Ames, issued a rallying call which was
repeated across the country: "We are still here and we shall carry on."
years after the Hunting Act was introduced - supposedly signalling the
end of hunting with hounds - supporters put on a show of strength,
which organisers claim saw as many as 300,000 people turn out to
support the UK's 314 hunts.
The Countryside Alliance
claimed the level of support - which was
disputed by animal welfare campaigners - proved the two-year-old ban
had become irrelevant.
think we've had a record turnout this year," said spokeswoman Charlotte
Fiander. "We are seeing people who have never hunted before going out
and that is certainly boosting the numbers. It just shows that this law
needs to be changed."
Anti-blood sports campaigners hit
questioning the Countryside Alliance's figures and unveiling a new
prosecution unit which they said would use antisocial behaviour orders
(Asbos) to tackle hunts and huntsmen that flout the ban.
League Against Cruel Sports chief executive, Douglas Batchelor, said:
"We hear every week of hunts behaving in a profoundly antisocial way.
They allow their hounds to rip apart a family's pet cat or rabbit and
then think all they need to do is say sorry.
"We have been
advised that scores of hunts are prime candidates for antisocial
behaviour orders and our unit will be actively assisting the victims of
such behaviour to take appropriate legal action. Asbos are not just for
hoodies, as many hunts are about to find out."
The Hunting Act,
introduced almost two years ago, made hunting with dogs a criminal
offence, although hunts have used a series of loopholes to keep going.
Yesterday countryside supporters said the legislation had had little
Jo Aldridge, spokeswoman for the
Beaufort Hunt, said:
"There were more than 2,000 attending the hunt today, with around 150
of those on horseback. The hunt was extremely well attended - it took
us by surprise to some extent.
"The ban has not affected the
popularity of the hunt at all, in fact we seem to be being supported in
greater numbers than ever, so the ban hasn't worked from that viewpoint
... Quite often a dad who used to hunt but gave it up some time ago
will now come out again with the rest of the family, just to support
More than 2,000 supporters
attended the Worcester Hunt
in Droitwich. Joint master David Palmer said: "The crowds were as large
as we have ever known them. Most are people who we might not see for
the rest of the year, but who come out on Boxing Day to show their
support for the hunt."
Two hundred people gathered at
Arms, Gatehouse of Fleet, to support the Dumfriesshire and Stewartry
hunt, which re-formed this year and was meeting for the first Boxing
Day since 2002.
Its chairman, Jamie Blackett,
wonderful to be out with the Dumfriesshire and Stewartry on Boxing Day
again. The support here today shows exactly why we had to restart the
hunt and why I'm confident that we will be out for many years to come."
The Vale of Aylesbury with Garth
and South Berks had 3,000 at their meet near Berkhamsted in
Gerald Sumner said: "Support like this so close to London shows that
hunting isn't some sort of weird rural tradition that is dying out.
Hunting is more popular in the south-east of England than it has ever
The Cottesmore Hunt met in
Oakham, Rutland. Phillipa Mayo
said: "There was a crowd of 1,600 to send us off. One person told me
that he had never even thought about coming out until the ban, but now
he wouldn't miss the opportunity to show his opposition."
League Against Cruel Sports said that a team of senior QCs would advise
its new prosecution unit on how best to use both civil and criminal law
"to control the behaviour of those hunters who believe they are a law
unto themselves". The move follows the league's first successful
private prosecution against Tony Wright, a huntsman with the Exmoor
Foxhounds, in August.
Yesterday Barry Hugill, a
spokesman for the
league, said the focus on the hunts would continue into the new year.
"Because of the media attention most hunts do not break the law on
Boxing Day. but we will be monitoring them throughout the year and that
is when we anticipate that Asbos may come into play," he said.
The Hunting Act, which came into force in February
2005, made hunting with dogs a criminal offence, although exercising hounds, chasing a scent trail and flushing out foxes to be shot are still legal. Hunts have
continued despite the ban and it is estimated that around 25,000 days of hunting have been carried out
by around 300 hunts
since it came into force. Some hunts lay artificial trails for their
hounds while others have invested in golden eagles and eagle owls to
exploit falconry clauses in the act. The first successful
private prosecution took place this year when Tony Wright, of the Exmoor Foxhounds, was found guilty of hunting a
wild mammal with a dog
Hunting ban tops 'unpopular' poll
The Countryside Alliance has
admitted conducting a drive to get people
to vote for a repeal of the laws banning hunting with dogs, in a Radio
The Hunting Act took 52.8% of
the votes to top a Today poll of the act people would most like to see
The alliance said it used its
website to encourage pro-hunt activists to back an end to the ban in
England and Wales.
The programme's panel had
considered excluding hunting because of evidence of a campaign to
affect the outcome.
Radio 4 presenter Ed Stourton said there had been "suspicions that
there was an organised campaign at work".
Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, who was on the panel which assessed
nominations for the poll, told Today: "Undeniably, the Countryside
Alliance pulled out every last stop to get this result.
"We did hesitate on the panel to put this one forward
because there was already evidence of links from the Countryside
Alliance - encouragement etc - and of course we had the Boxing Day
meets, when just about everybody who actively supports hunting would
have been out and could have been reminded."
| Whatever your views on hunting one
way or the other, this act is a
fiasco and it is not surprising that it received a mass vote
Countryside Alliance president Baroness Mallalieu
JUNE 23rd 2011
Countryside Alliance president Baroness Mallalieu said she was not
surprised by the result.
She said: "What we did was to notify people on the website that
this vote was taking place and suggest that they vote.
"The truth of the matter is that, of all the acts on the list, this
the one that no case can possibly be made for retaining, because it has
been a total failure all round.
"Whatever your views on hunting one way or the other,
this act is a fiasco and it is not surprising that it received a mass
The vote for the Hunting Act was well ahead of the
second-placed European Communities Act of 1972 which took Britain into
the Common Market, which gained 29.7% of the votes cast by telephone
Other acts voted for included the Serious Organised
Crime and Police Act, which requires police permission for protests in
Parliament Square, which attracted 6.2% of the vote, and the Human
Rights Act, which got 6.1%.
There were also votes for the Dangerous Dogs Act and the Act of
Here is another example of great ignorance about animals. Circuses
should be regulated and kept to very high standards, cruelty to animals
in inexcusable, but banning animals in circuses is an admission of
human failure of truly awful proportions. Fortunately ministers are
certain to ignore this vote.