Like most normal people (and figures suggest over 80% of us are normal on this matter) I am disgusted by the practice of fox hunting. The very notion of it, not least the ‘enjoyment’ derived by those that do it, is something that feels beyond illogical to me. The ban that came in in 2004 – not perfect by any means, but a big step in the right direction – is now under threat, as many of us expected, by this government.
A free vote was promised on the repeal of the ban, but now, with many new Conservative MP’s coming out in favour of the ban, it seems far from clear cut that the PM would get the result he wanted. So instead he has found another way, an amendment that would pretty much make the ban worthless. A devious, underhand case of backdoor politics, rushed through on the back of the budget in the hope that enough people are too distracted to care.
I haven’t heard great arguments from the pro hunt lobby in the government as to why they would like it repealed (or ‘amended’ call it what you want – this government plays fast and loose with definitions) supposedly they might use the argument that it is ‘sport’ that was always the usual line. Sport? I don’t think so. In sport both sides know the rules and are willingly participating. Sport is something that brings classes, and ambitions together. Sport is aspirational. Do you think there are many kids at school dreaming of becoming a hunter when they grow up? The other argument that people wheel out is that of tradition. I remember hearing Portillo using that line a few weeks ago, just after decrying any abuse of animals. He said we should be wary of losing our traditions. Like the Spanish and bull fighting, that was his example. Bullshit. Tradition it may be, but then so to were workhouses, slavery, and denying women the vote etc etc… there are many things in our history that should shame us, but the thing is, the hope is that in a civilized country you grow, mature, become better informed and educated, and act with principles and morals, a knowledge of right and wrong, and in the UK that supposed good old sense of fair play. For some reason fox hunting remains an issue to be debated. It is quite embarrassing that we are even still talking about it. It should have been consigned to the history books with the rest of our shame.
With the sport and tradition argument not doing its job, we now hear the ‘pest control’ theory (I’m not sure Rentokil have plans to dress up and bring a load of their mates round to chase a rat into exhaustion and then watch it ripped apart, just yet) Of course, the pest control theory was somewhat blown out of the water recently with the expose at the Middleton Hunt. People hunt simply for the thrill of the kill. It is that simple, and that abhorrent.
I’ve always felt it was unhelpful to make this a class issue, it invariably ends up becoming toffs vs plebs, or townies vs country folk. Both sides demonising the other and claiming they have no understanding of how they live and what they do. None of that stereotyping is really necessary, and yet here we are, a Conservative government in power, who despite many of a new generation of their MP’s being vehemently against any repeal, despite a very slim mandate to serve, over 80% of the electorate being against it, are determined, by whatever means, to restore this hideous, barbaric, archaic practice. One nation Conservatives? I don’t think so. This is an old school ideology that panders to a class and upbringing that is alien to the vast majority of us. At what point does a government in charge of a country facing as many challenges as the UK is at the moment, stop and say “Do you know what? The vast majority of people don’t want this. There isn’t really any room in our advanced society for something like this. Let’s just leave it be and move on to something else.”
Whatever the result of the vote, those against this practice must keep fighting for what they know is right. Email your MP (they are there to serve us, it is their job to listen!) and keep up the pressure as long as people keep making this a fight we have to have.