Monday, November 16, 2009

The War of

This is a snippet from a Labour Party leaflet doing the rounds in a by election constituency recently. Politics doesn't get much less subtle than this.

The whole question of fox hunting has been in the news again because it is five years this week since the hunting ban was passed. The decades of bitter protest against hunting followed by years of equally bitter protests in favour have largely been put behind us. Much of the Armageddon promised by the pro-hunt lobby has failed to materialise, thousands of dogs were not put down, the countryside has not become an economic desert and we are not overrun with packs of marauding foxes. Some animal rights activists continue to complain that the law is being abused, and the Countryside Alliance continue to vociferously campaign for restoration; but drag hunting has become an acceptable subsititute, and most people seem content with the new status quo.

Our opponents are trying to show the offer to hold a free vote by David Cameron as a party political divide, as the Labour poster above clearly demonstrates. The Lib Dems, too are trying to indicate that a Conservative Government will definitely support the re-introduction of fox hunting (and by implication, suggesting I support it, too) as this snippet from a local Lib Dem leaflet shows.

Labour devoted several hundred pointless hours in debating this topic for years and ended up with a class-based divisive law that pleased no-one. I am certain Conservatives will not make that mistake, David Cameron has rightly offered a fresh debate on a party free 'vote with your conscience' basis because he respects that passions run very high on this question.

I think many members of the public will think us wrong to re-open the debate at a time of economic and social crisis like this, but if the hunting issue is debated as part of the much wider issue of our loss of freedom and liberty in many areas of our life, or as part of the questions surrounding protecting our countryside way of life, that objection would not be fair.

If I am elected I have said that I will not vote to re-instate hunting. This caused disbelief (or was it -perish the thought- disappointment?) when I was approached and asked about it by the League Against Cruel Sports earlier this year. I have since found out that several of my fellow PPC's across the country are inclined -like me- not to vote to abolish the ban now that we have one. Some people are surprised by this, wrongly imagining all Conservatives to be supporters of hunting as the kind of stereotype put about by our political opponents.

While it is true that in the current Parliament a majority of Conservatives have rural constituencies where many residents are passionate supporters of the sport, if we win in 2010 we will be adding hundreds of new Conservative MP's from urban and city constituencies where opinions may differ.

Until we know the make-up of the next House of Commons, and know the terms and details of a future Bill to legalise hunting with dogs, guessing the outcome of a vote is pointless. But the slogan Labour put on the poster above is both misleading and dishonest.


Anonymous said...

A bit of sense for once! Proposing to reinstate hunting just reinforces the view that the Tories are totally out of touch with real people and only interested in upper class snobbery

Barrie Wood said...

That many Tories see it as a priority - revoking the ban on fox hunting - says much. What is needed is a strengthening of the act and prosecutions of hunts flouting the law as currently constituted.

I'm not, as a liberal, in favour of many things, but who is there to speak up and be advocates for sentient beings like foxes and hares.

Marcus might take the popular view on this, but the majority of the current Tory Westminster incumbents do not !!

Dave said...

Agree with you completely Marcus. Leave the hunting ban in place. The Tory leadership would be insane to reopen this can of worms.