Today, the Mirror has revealed a secret plan to elect a hunt-friendly Tory government, in a leaked email distributed among hunt masters.
It urges them to “mobilise supporters” and campaign for pro-hunting Tories in marginal seats.
The report refers to “fox hunt masters’ secret plan to round up support for Theresa May, because they believe a Tory landslide would lead to the fox hunting ban being scrapped”:
The email, sent to hunts across the country by Tory peer Lord Mancroft, urges hunt masters to “mobilise supporters” and campaign for pro-hunting Tories in marginal seats.
He said a Tory majority of 50 or more MPs should be enough to secure a repeal of the 2004 Hunting Act in a Parliamentary vote later this year.
“This is the chance we have been waiting for,” Lord Mancroft wrote.
Here’s the full email:
While anything can change in a six-week election campaign, and we know that the polls cannot be relied on, there is a real chance that on 8th June, Theresa May could achieve a majority significantly in excess of the seventeen seats she currently has. A majority of fifty or more would give us a real opportunity for repeal of the Hunting Act (HA), or perhaps an alternative legislative measure – but only if that leaves hunting in a better position than it is now. It must be clearly understood that repeal is our primary objective, but also that politics is “the art of the possible”, and we will take whichever option is the most advantageous to hunting when the time comes. It will only become clear what our best option is after 8th June.
First, we need a cast iron manifesto commitment from the Conservative Party, as we had in the last four election manifestos. Like everyone else, we will have to wait until the manifesto is published on 8th May to be certain,but Simon Hart MP and I have received assurances that such a commitment will be carried forward to the 2017 manifesto. I have made it clear that we will only provide support on that basis, and that if the manifesto does not contain an acceptable commitment, we will withdraw our support.
It is important that everyone understands why the idea that “the Government did not honour the manifesto commitments after the 2010 and 2015 elections” is incorrect. On both occasions David Cameron made it clear that he would authorise and fully endorse a vote in a manner, and at a time, of our choosing.
During the Coalition Government a vote could only take place if the Liberal Democrats agreed, which they did not. After 2015 the Scottish Nationalists reversed their earlier commitment to abstain from any votes that did not impact Scotland, and opposed the proposed Statutory Instrument, and consequently the Government Chief Whip did not think we could win a vote in the House of Commons.
All the advice we received was that we should not risk such a vote unless we had a reasonable expectation of winning. We therefore concluded it was not in hunting’s best interests to put the matter to a vote. I am sure that was the correct decision.
We have repeatedly made clear that we need a Government that has both a manifesto commitment to repeal the HA, and a big enough majority to get repeal through the Commons and then the Lords.
It now looks, unexpectedly, as if there is a very real chance we could get such a Government. While nothing in politics is certain, this is by far the best opportunity we have had since the ban, and is probably the best we are likely to get in the foreseeable future.
On that basis, we must do everything we possibly can to maximise the chance of getting repeal of the HA. I am confident that every Master will give the leadership and direction that our community needs at this seminal moment.
Vote OK, under the direction of George Bowyer, has already started to plan what we are all going to do during the campaign. A number of constituencies do not yet have candidates, so there is a role for us in making sure that only candidates supportive of hunting are selected. Vote OK will advise how best to achieve this.
We will only help candidates who give us an unequivocal commitment to support repeal when the time comes. Nor do we need to help candidates in “safe seats” with large majorities. Instead we will concentrate on those seats where we can make the most difference.
Unless specifically advised to the contrary, every Hunt should assume that it will be needed to assist with political work and start making arrangements to mobilise supporters now. Please make sure that your Hunt has an active and effective Vote-OK Coordinator in place and that they are making regular contact with your Regional Vote-OK Director (RVOD). Please do not wait to hear where your Hunt should go, but contact them as soon as possible. If you do not know who your RVOD is, contact George Bowyer by email at [address redacted].
In the face of everything that has happened over the last two decades, the hunting community has never given up fighting for our sport, for our hounds, and to enable our children and their children to enjoy both, as we have.
This is the chance we have been waiting for. We have six weeks to show, yet again, what we are made of, and our undying commitment to our way of life.
We have six weeks to win back all that has been taken from us. Masters, if ever there was a time to give a lead, this is it. Please don’t waste a single day of those six weeks.
Chairman, Council of Hunting Associations
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