Backdoor bid to bring back fox hunting

A group of Conservative-supporting, Countryside Alliance-supporting 'pest controllers'. These have already donned their red-and-white 'pest control' overalls and mounted their 'pest control' vehicles. They are preparing to deploy their 'pest control' apparatus - otherwise known as releasing the hounds.

A group of (we suspect) Conservative-supporting, Countryside Alliance-supporting ‘pest controllers’.
These have already donned their red-and-white ‘pest control’ overalls and mounted their ‘pest control’ vehicles. They are preparing to deploy their ‘pest control’ apparatus – otherwise known as releasing the hounds.

Isn’t it interesting, how legislators can always quote ‘legitimate concerns’ of interested parties when they want to stop something – or (in this case) bring it back?

Here in Mid Wales, the county council used to clamp down hard on outdoor musical events, claiming that members had received “a complaint”.

Now the Conservative Government is to hold a vote on a Statutory Instrument (not primary legislation) that would bring back fox hunting, using a backdoor route that would put England and Wales “in line” with Scotland. The pretext? “Responding to the legitimate concerns” of hill farmers.

Would these hill farmers be Conservative voters? Perhaps even Tory MPs?

It’s interesting that this attempt to bypass the Hunting Act – by bringing it in line with the law in Scotland – puts the SNP in a difficult position once again.

Remember when ScotsNat supporters bombarded This Blog with outrage at the suggestion that their MPs should vote on the proposed repeal of the Hunting Act, back in May? Their attitude was that they had a hunting ban in Scotland and the SNP had principles which mean they should not vote on “English-only” matters (never mind that the “English-only” act also affects people in Wales. Wales doesn’t count, apparently).

It turns out the Scottish hunting ban is less effective – and therefore more barbaric – than the ban in England (and Wales); whereas, south of the border, foxes may be flushed out and killed for “pest control” reasons using a maximum of two dogs, there is no limit on the number of dogs that can be used in Scotland. For “pest control” purposes, foxes may be hunted by packs of dogs.

What is the SNP going to do about this? It brings the law south of the border in line with their own. The best we can expect from them is an abstention, allowing the de facto return of the barbaric blood sport that has been banned for the last decade.

Perhaps they should have strengthened their own hunting ban, rather than whining about having to vote on everybody else’s.

What’s the betting that, if the vote is passed, huge organisations of “pest controllers” will meet every Sunday, dolled up in red coats, to send their equally huge packs of dogs out “pest controlling” all over the countryside?

This Writer reckons it’s a certainty.

The Countryside Alliance has supported the proposal (quelle surprise): “These amendments will bring the law in to line with Scotland and ensure that farmers are able to choose how to manage the fox population in the most effective and humane manner,” said Tim Bonner, its head of campaigns.

Here’s comedian Robin Ince’s response to that attitude:


And celebrity wildlife protector Brian May stated, on his website: “If this SI measure is to be used to bring back legalised abuse of foxes, it means the Government have decided that the goodwill of the Countryside Alliance is more important to them than the will of the British Public.

“Historically, Statutory Instruments have only been used to make a minor modification to a law in a non-controversial way. The idea that this device could be used to circumvent the will of the majority of the English people is actually an outrage, and will be viewed by all decent folks as disgraceful conduct by any government, and an abuse of Parliamentary procedures.”

Fox hunting is fox hunting, no matter what label you attach to it. This is just a filthy little underhanded trick to neutralise the SNP.

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26 thoughts on “Backdoor bid to bring back fox hunting

  1. David Woods

    Who can be surprised! From a government who treats sick and disabled people with such contempt, cruelty to animals is nothing!
    It has long been proven that those who mistreat and abuse animals will carry on that abuse to the weak and vulnerable, this Tory government is proof of that fact!

  2. Neilth

    Maybe if we let the b*****ds go after the foxes they’ll leave the poor and vulnerable humans alone. Then again they’ll probably just want to kill more things and people. It’ll only whet their blood lust.

  3. hayfords

    Don’t forget that the legislation was passed in an undemocratic manner. Because Labour could not get the Bill passed into law, they used the Parliament Act to force the Act into law. This was a misuse of executive power as the Parliament Act is intended for enacting laws of an urgent nature and specifically financially Bills. What is being proposed is a free vote on an amendment to the legislation. That is certainly more democratic than the method used to enact the law. Even Tiny Blair said that he regretted making an election pledge to pass the legislation.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      The legislation was not passed undemocratically. You should be ashamed for trying to push such a perverted interpretation of the facts on VP readers.

      You know perfectly well that the Parliament Acts were invoked correctly: With the Lords and Commons unable to come to agreement by the end of the Parliamentary year the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, invoked the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, an infrequently used legislative device that allows the Commons to overrule the Lords where agreement can not be reached. The House of Lords was criticised for undemocratically blocking the legislation.

      As for what’s being proposed: It is a bid to silence the SNP by watering down the law in England and Wales to match that in Scotland. None of what you say contradicts that.

      Your claim about the way the Hunting Act was enacted are entirely wrong and you should now apologise and retract it.

      1. hayfords

        The Lords acted in a democratic manner and voted against the Bill. The Lords often vote down Bills and the government usually accepts this unless it is of major importance. It happened several times in the last parliament. The Parliament Act has only been used 7 times since 1911, including once in 1949 to enable the the amendment of the Act itself. If you look at the instances of the use of the Act, you will seeeach one has been for major pieces of legislation (often constituenal in nature). The importance of the Bill in this instance did not warrant the use of the Act. It was a vanity project by Labour. It is only right to remedy this now and allow a free vote on this amendment. Hopefully, if this passes, there will be a complete repeal of the legislation at a later date.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        No – the unelected Lords voted against the will of the people, who democratically elected Labour on a manifesto that included ending hunting with dogs.
        The Lords do not vote down bills often – in fact, a previous Tory government removed their ability to veto legislation. All they can do is amend it, and even then those amendments must be approved by the Commons. When the Lords and the Commons were deadlocked over the then-Hunting Bill and the end of the Parliamentary Year was approaching, it was right to invoke the Parliament Act, end the debate and pass the Bill into law. You want to say it’s wrong because it hadn’t been used that way previously; you are in error.
        The Hunting Act was not a Labour vanity project; it was the will of the electorate – and remember Labour had a larger majority then than the Conservatives have now.
        It is against the will of the electorate that the Hunting Act be altered. Therefore your claim that it is “only right” to change it according to the whims of Tory politicians is balderdash.
        Unfortunately, the Statutory Instrument will probably be passed, as it would be hard for the SNP to vote it down.
        Hopefully, if it is, a future non-Tory government will end this barbaric form of animal cruelty once and for all, with lengthy jail sentences for transgressors.

  4. Dr eddie smith

    why not set the ALF on ’em so they know what it’s like to be the one being hunted?

  5. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl)

    I totally agree with your reply Mike. This country is being run by moronic sadists who have no regard for the wishes of the vast majority of the electorate. What decent person could possibly have faith in a government which enjoyed sadistic pursuits; the majority of its MPs and its Leaders living in luxury, and which is happy to deprive decent folk of reasonable benefits where valid?

    Time we all made a much greater move to get rid of it. We need to get a Labour leader (Jeremy Corbyn for preference) elected A.S.A.P.

  6. christopherblackmore

    “it means the Government have decided that the goodwill of the Countryside Alliance is more important to them than the will of the British Public.”

    This government has never had the slightest interest in what the British public want. They are Tories, and they exist to make money for the rich any way they can. That is all they care about.

    [Except Gove, who is in it for the dressing up.]

  7. hayfords

    To use the Parliament Act bearing in mind what Blair said below is outrageous.

    Tony Blair accidentally supported the ban on fox hunting after the Labour Party got themselves “in a muddle” and he “misspoke” on television, Jack Straw has disclosed.

    Mr Blair apologised to the then-Home Secretary after inadvertently supporting a ban on foxhunting while appearing on Question Time, Mr Straw has claimed.

    In an extract of his memoirs published today, Mr Straw disclosed he had felt the debate on hunting was a “nonsense issue” which was “best left alone”.

    Although Mr Blair agreed, he claimed, he was “put on the spot” while answering questions on live television and unexpectedly announced he would support a ban.

    In his book, entitled Last Man Standing, Mr Straw wrote: “I remember the 1997 election that brought us into power.

    “We in the Labour Party had got ourselves in a muddle over foxhunting.

    “To me, banning it was a nonsense issue for a serious party making a determined bid for government after 18 years in opposition. It was best left alone.

    “But it crept into the manifesto in a suitably ambiguous form – until Tony, who didn’t think it important either, went on Question Time, was put on the spot and announced he’d support a ban.

    “I went to see him the next day to ask him why. ‘I’m very sorry, Jack,’ he said. ‘I misspoke.’”

    Mr Blair later confessed the hunting Bill was one of the measures he most regretted during his time as Prime Minister, admitting he did not know enough about the debate.

    Was it a mistake? “I think yes on balance it was in the end. Its not that I particularly like hunting or have ever engaged in it or would. I didn’t quite understand, and I reproach myself for this, that for a group of people in our society in the countryside this was a fundamental part of their way of life.” Blair accepts that the ban was “not one of my finest policy moments”.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Utterly irrelevant.
      The ban was a Labour manifesto commitment and Labour had a duty to honour it.
      (I know that’s something you’ll find hard to understand. As a Tory, you won’t believe in honouring manifesto commitments. Tories believe manifestos are written in order to fool the electorate into supporting a Tory government that will then do whatever it likes in order to make money for its donors.)

      1. hayfords

        On that basis, the current government is fulfilling their manifesto and have a mandate for it.

        As regards the will of the people, all recent governments have resisted the will of the people by denying them Capital Punishment (I do not support CP).

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        As someone else commented on the Greek referendum, 61 per cent is a mandate; 24.3 per cent isn’t.

      3. hayfords

        I thought you might bring up the subject of what majority is a mandate. I did some research of percentages of registered voters.

        In 2005 Labour won 35.2% of the vote on a 64.1% turnout. This year the Conservatives won 36.9 of the vote on a turnout of 66.1. That means the last Labour government won 21.6 of the registered voters and this government won 24.2%. If the Conservatives have no mandate then Labour had even less of one. Labour won a lower % of the turnout and a lower % in absolute terms. Labour have only once gone above 30% in the last 10 elections.

        The following is the percentage won of the percentage turnout giving the percentage won of the electorate. As you can see, no party has ever even reached 40%, although the Conservatives came closest.

        48.1% of 72.6% = 34.9% Lab 1945
        46.2% of 83.6% = 38.6% Lab 1950
        48.0% of 81.9% = 39.3% Con 1951
        49.7% of 76.8% = 38.2% Con 1955
        49.3% of 78.7% = 38.8% Con 1959
        44.1% of 77.1% = 34.0% Lab 1964
        47.7% of 75.8% = 36.2 %Lab 1966
        46.0% of 72.0% = 33.1% Con 1970
        39.3% of 72.8% = 28.6% Lab 1974
        43.9% of 76.0% = 32.7% Con 1979
        42.4% of 72.7% = 30.8% Con 1983
        42.2% of 75.3% = 31.8% Con 1987
        41.9% of 77.7% = 33.0% Con 1992
        43.2% of 71.3% = 30.8% Lab 1997
        40.7% of 59.4% = 24.1% Lab 2001
        35.2% of 64.1% = 21.6% Lab 2005
        36.9% of 66.1% = 24.2% Con 2015


  8. Maria

    I have nothing against hunting as long as it is done out of need and not sport and as long as it is done in a way that the animal suffers the least. I think fox hunting as it stands is the cruellest form of hunting and should not be brought back.

  9. paulmac49

    These Tories couldn’t do this when they were in coalition with the lib/dems, now they can do whatever they want to-do.

  10. Joan Edington

    Although it couldn’t happen in time, for me the ideal situation would be for the SNP to vote against the changes while, at the same time, moving to change the law in Scotland to match rUK.

  11. Joan Edington

    As a side comment, it was not the SNP that introduced the watered down ban in Scotland. It was the then-Labour government. I honestly don’t know what the SNP stance is since the subject of amending the act in Scotland has not come up since they have been in power, as far as I know.

  12. hayfords

    No. I don’t agree that Labour had a mandate. I looked at the Labour manifesto and it just said that they would offer a free vote on the subject.

    So, on your reckoning, no party has ever had a mandate in numerical terms. The current government does have a mandate on your alternative measure, because the majority want cuts in benefits.

    And what of Capital Punishment? Every government has a popular mandate to reintroduce it. There are lots of issues where the public does not get what it wants. The principle is that your MP will represent you and vote according to his conscience.

    Proportional voting is not the answer. The public voted against it in a referendum. Labour also don’t like it and won’t vote for it. There is no possible majority for it in Parliament.

    At least the fox hunting amendment vote next week will be a free vote. Later this session there is going to be a vote on the complete repeal of the 2004 Act. I would expect this to be a free vote as well.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      The Commons had a free vote on the subject and passed it; the Lords had no right to block it.
      By your reckoning, no party has had a mandate – so you must support proportional representation, to ensure that the government represents a majority of the people. Will you be persuading your fellow Tories to follow the same policy? Oh no – I see you have contradicted yourself. What a shame, but it’s no surprise really.
      The public didn’t vote against proportional representation in a referendum – did you really think anyone here is stupid enough to accept that silly line? We were offered an ‘alternative vote’ system that doesn’t correspond with proportional representation in a worthwhile way, so we rejected it.
      What of capital punishment? How many political parties have offered to reintroduce it? None, by my reckoning. The people vote for parties on the basis of their offer. If none of the parties are offering capital punishment, then the public can’t vote for it. And if they’re not offering it, that suggests that the public hasn’t asked them to. Do you have evidence to the contrary?
      Why do you keep lying that the hunting vote will be free? Tories will be told to support the amendments, in line with their government, and the SNP – unless it follows Joan Edington’s excellent suggestion – will have its hands tied, meaning the vote will pass. That’s a mockery of democracy and will be reversed the instant a democratic government is restored to Westminster.

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