Hunting – an old argument returns

David Cameron seems poised to open an old set of wounds if he wins the General Election by revisiting that divisive old chestnut of fox hunting. He has re-stated his intention to allow a free vote in the House of Commons if he becomes Prime Minister and, given that there would most likely be a Tory majority in such a scenario, the chances are that the ban would be repealed.

I have to be honest, fox hunting isn’t really my thing – I’ve never been hunting and I’ve never wanted to. I understand (I think) the thrill of the chase, but I must say that I find it a little odd that entertainment is derived from its end result. Each to their own, I suppose.

Given this is such a long-running debate, the arguments still seem rather confused. For example, hunt supporters simultaneously tell us that fox numbers need to be controlled while also claiming, when pressed on animal welfare, that the hunts rarely catch a fox anyway. Opponents of hunting will tell you that it’s purely about cruelty to foxes but you don’t have to scratch the surface too much to hear the rhetoric of good old-fashioned class warfare.

I think I would appreciate the arguments of both sides a little more if they were honest. I would have a great deal more respect for the hunters if they admitted they do it because they enjoy it. Equally many support a ban on hunting because they don’t much care for the “type of people” who do it.

The law as it stands is a pretty poor piece of legislation for the simple reason that it doesn’t appear to be enforceable, but Tory attempts to revisit this appear to be nothing more than a basic core vote strategy aimed at their traditional support, in the same way that Labour’s original ban was designed to keep the class warfare wing of the party happy.

For sure, the law probably needs to be revisited at some point but – given one of the main arguments against the ban was that it was a waste of parliamentary time – wouldn’t an incoming Prime Minister have more important things on the agenda than repealing a piece of legislation which doesn’t make the blindest bit of difference anyway?



  1. If the hunters would just stop breeding foxes for their sport (by creating artificial earths all over the countryside), there would be no need to play the ‘pest controller’ card. In fact, in the run up to the original ban, the hunts claimed that foxes would become extinct if it werent’ for them. Their argument goes from one extreme to the other.

    There is no case for repeal. Hunt numbers are up all over the country. Drag hunting is legal. The sense of community, pageantry, heritage, and jobs are all still intact and yet these disgraceful people can’t manage to enjoy themselves unless they are terrifying and killing animals.

    This isn’t about Labour class war. The ‘Conservatives Against Foxhunting’ have a large following. Our ‘all party’ anti-hunting campaign (Campaign For Decency) has supporters from all classes and all areas of the countryside.

    For anyone unconvinced of the cruelty, please read this account from a hunstman who later found his conscience.

    Then decide for yourself.

  2. I must be honest. I’m no fan of fox hunting because the end result seems very cruel. In fact, I don’t much care for the “type” of people that take part in it either.

    However, given the massive social inequality in our country and the fact that an enormously right wing spending cut agenda may soon be manifest through a Tory or , more shamefully, a Labour government; I agree that parliamentary time would be best spent waging greater battles.

  3. represents the two thirds of Conservative supporters who are against fox hunting, thats over 11 million Conservative supporters as demonstrated in the latest official polls. The majority of Conservative supporters are against repeal and back the present legislation that fox hunting is an illegal activity. It is cruel and outmoded in civilised society. If a farmer deems there is a case for control there are more humane methods of controlling the fox population as are exercised in Switzerland and Germany has banned foxhunting with dogs for several decades on the basis that it is cruel. Only a pro hunting minority want to see fox hunting with dogs return and is not in keeping with the majority view that it is an unacceptable practice to reintroduce in the 21st century.

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