Tag Archives: Brian May

Cameron outfoxed by SNP over Hunting Act change

Cameron on the run: The only hunt that the public is likely to support.

Cameron on the run: The only hunt that the public is likely to support.

UPDATE: David Cameron has withdrawn the planned vote on fox hunting from tomorrow’s (Wednesday) Parliamentary schedule. So much for it being a ‘free’ vote – if he can’t win, he’s not going to let it happen. In fact, his tactic deserves further scrutiny so expect another article shortly.

The Scottish National Party will vote against a bid to relax the fox hunting ban in England and Wales, according to their Westminster leader, Angus Robertson.

David Cameron has been hoping that his announcement of changes, to bring the law in England and Wales in line with that in Scotland, would make it impossible for the SNP’s 56 MPs to oppose them in a debate and free vote tomorrow (Wednesday).

But the Scottish Nationalists, currently in charge of the Scottish Parliament, said they are considering a review of the existing ban north of the border, amid concerns that it is not strong enough.

In that context, Mr Robertson said, it would be in Scotland’s interest for the existing ban in England and Wales to be maintained.

The current version of the proposals, contained in a Statutory Instrument, would relax the law to allow foxes to be hunted by packs of dogs in England and Wales to protect livestock, game birds and wild birds, while “having regard to the terrain” and provided it is “carried out as efficiently as possible”.

Supporters have claimed it would also allow the removal of diseased or wounded foxes – an assertion that provoked anti-hunt supporter Dr Brian May to denounce them as “lying bastards” on the BBC’s Newsnight programme last week.

Mr Robertson said: “The Tory government are refusing to agree to any amendments to improve the Scotland Bill – and imposing English Votes for English Laws to make Scotland’s representation at Westminster second class.

“In these circumstances, it is right and proper that we assert the Scottish interest on fox hunting by voting with Labour against the Tories’ proposals to relax the ban – in the process, reminding an arrogant UK government of just how slender their majority is.”

This is the kind of opposition to the Conservative Government that we need to see.

If the SNP continues in this manner throughout the remainder of the current Parliament, then many of its critics (including This Writer) will be forced to revise their opinion.

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Tories might lose the country’s support over fox hunting, Macca? When did they have it?

150712mccartneyhunting

It’s funny, the way even high-profile figures can get the wrong end of the stick.

Paul McCartney, for example, has warned the Conservative Party that it could lose the support of the UK electorate if a free vote next week results in the re-legalisation of fox hunting.

Perhaps someone should remind him that the Conservatives have a wafer-thin majority of just 12 MPs; six by-elections and they’re impotent.

In fact, even with this vote they are playing dirty. Knowing that a free vote to repeal the Hunting Act will not win enough support, David Cameron and his friends have worked out that they could restore hunting by bringing the law in England and Wales in line with that in Scotland. The SNP’s 56 MPs would not be able to vote against this in good faith, and will probably abstain, leaving the Tories with a majority of around 50 (believe it or not, there are Conservatives who oppose hunting).

Cameron absolutely cannot rely on the support of the electorate: His party won only 24.3 per cent of the available vote at the general election in May, making his government one of the least democratic in our history. And polls have consistently shown that a clear majority of the British people want the barbaric practice of hunting foxes with hounds to remain illegal – more than 50 per cent of us.

Macca, 73, has spent decades campaigning for animal rights. He said: “The vast majority of us will be against them [the Conservatives] if hunting is reintroduced. It is cruel and unnecessary and will lose them support from ordinary people and animal lovers like myself.”

“Inexcusable”

Fellow musician Brian May has been far more outspoken; he accused supporters of next week’s vote of being “a bunch of lying bastards” on the BBC’s Newsnight programme last Thursday.

Some mouthpiece for the hunt-supporting Countryside Alliance had been on, spouting the usual tripe: “This is about addressing exemptions in the Act, which were agreed by both sides when the Act was going through, for pest control reasons, for catching a diseased or wounded animal or something like that.”

Dr May responded: “It’s a very underhand act I’m afraid, because Cameron for years has promised a free vote – a fair fight on the repeal of the Hunting Act.

“He has now realised that this probably won’t end up with what he wants so this whole thing has been put together by circumventing the normal democratic process.

“So you introduce a little modification to an Act but this modification actually disables the whole Hunting Act and effectively this is repeal under a new name. I think this is a very Machiavellian and rather inexcusable way of behaving.

“I believe it’s a pretence. I think you’re a bunch of lying bastards.”

Here he is saying it, at around 5 minutes, 40 seconds in:

Other notable celebrity opponents include Ricky Gervais, who tweeted:

150712gervaisfoxhunting

In fact, it seems the mouthpiece from the Countryside Alliance has shown us the way forward.

This Writer cannot imagine why a wounded animal would need to be “removed” by a hunting pack; in the wild, the law of natural selection would probably see that it is “removed” without human interference.

And if this is about pest control – removing a diseased animal so it cannot spread an infection – then it should be necessary for the hunters to prove any fox was diseased before they set the dogs after it.

This leads to a further question about epidemic: If hounds are sent after a diseased fox, won’t they catch and spread the illness themselves?

Perhaps the Tories – and their Countryside Alliance co-conspirators – should be made to answer these questions before any change in the law is considered.

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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:

150609huntingANDsuicide

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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Of COURSE the Tories wrote the Telegraph ‘small business’ letter!

The Tories wrote the letter that was supposed to have come from “100 business leaders” a few weeks ago – why would anyone think this was any different?

The fact that the Torygraph withdrew this front page story from its website within 24 hours is testament to the weakness of the Conservative Party’s position, having tried – and failed – to hoodwink the public twice with the same trick.

If anyone wants to see where the Conservatives recruited their thousands of small-business signatories, just visit the Conservative Party website here.

If you can’t be bothered (and it’s the Tory website, so who can blame you?) here’s the text that appeared above the sign-up form:

150428businessletter

As you can see, Karren Brady (she of The Apprentice fame) actually put her name to it so her reputation is shot now (more even than it was when she became a Conservative peer for no reason). The author of the document is listed in the metadata as “CCHQ-Admin”.

Here’s a typical response from someone many claim to have been a lifelong Tory voter (until recently):

150428businessletter2

And the agony got worse. The Guardian reported that, not only did the letter originate in Conservative Central HQ, but it contains many duplicate signatures and one belonging to a person who said they never signed it.

150428businessletter3

The Conservative Party’s former tax avoidance minister, David Gauke, was forced to defend the letter – awkwardly – when challenged by Andrew Neill on the BBC’s Daily Politics. It’s very funny – have a look:

How will the Conservative Party claw back its credibility after this?

And, more importantly:

Why is this minority-interest party still managing more than 30 per cent support in the opinion polls?

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Ending badger culls will save the next Labour Government more than £120 million

Stop the cull - vote them out: Bill Oddie shows his support for the end of the badger cull (and also the end of Conservative-led government). This image was taken from Brian May's Twitter feed.

Stop the cull – vote them out: Bill Oddie shows his support for the end of the badger cull (and also the end of Conservative-led government). This image was taken from Brian May’s Twitter feed.

A Labour government would save £192 million from the environment, food and rural affairs budget – mostly by ending the costly and pointless badger culls, the party has revealed.

Labour would save an estimated £24.5 million a year – £122.5 million in the next parliament by ending the Government’s inhumane and ineffective badger culls.

The party would establish strategies to increase the income of arms-length bodies like Natural England, including moves towards fuller cost recovery there, which could save £40 million in the next parliament.

It would improve water quality by supporting best practice in the farming and water industries and saving £4 million a year and £20 million in the next parliament in environmental protection spending. This involves freeing up £150 million for spending on environmental protection and rural development in 2018-20 by re-allocating payments made under the Common Agricultural Policy.

Labour would increase – by £2 million a year – income from environmental protection and abstraction charges, bringing in £10 million in the next parliament, and review the cost of other DEFRA agencies – to get a better deal for taxpayers and raise the proportion of regulatory costs that are recovered from the industries under supervision.

The report on DEFRA also highlights a series of wasteful and short-sighted measures under this government, including its failure on flooding and climate change: Failing to maintain to the appropriate standard three-quarters of existing flood defences, triggering an increase in emergency spending and storing up further costs for the future, and cutting the number of departmental officials working on climate change adaptation from 38 to just six.

“This Tory-led Government never should have pressed ahead with these ineffective and inhumane badger culls when they knew from the start that this policy had the potential to make the problem of bovine TB worse,” said Maria Eagle, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs.

“Instead of ignoring the overwhelming evidence the Government must work with scientists, wildlife groups and farmers to develop an alternative strategy to get the problem of Bovine TB under control.”

zBadgerCull

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Badger cull expansion is abandoned

The government has abandoned its planned expansion of badger culling to reduce TB in cattle, according to a BBC report. Let us hope Brian May is delighted.

“The environment department’s original plan was to announce up to 10 new cull areas in South West England each year,” the report states.

“Defra’s own independent assessment shows that culls in two pilot areas were not effective, and raised questions about their humaneness.”

But it wasn’t all good news: “These pilot culls will continue, though there will be no independent oversight to assess their future performance.

“In a Commons statement, the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson proposed a programme of vaccination around the edges of the most badly affected parts of the country.

“This, he said, would create a buffer zone of immunity that would stop the disease from spreading.”

Wasn’t that what the experts wanted in the first place?

The rest of the report is here.

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