Friday, 18 January 2013 5:10 PM
Leave Fox Hunting In The Past Where it Belongs
by Lorraine Platt, Campaign Director, Conservatives Against Fox Hunting (Blue Fox)
On yesterday's Politics.co.uk article on fox hunting 'Gone to ground? Fox hunting enemies are wary of Tories' Sir Bob Russell MP commented:
“I think that modernisers in the Conservative party realise that actually if they were to pursue this it would be defeated, and it would remind people as to what the Conservative party was."
"They thought it was in the past. Do the Conservatives really want people thinking they condone this kind of barbaric behaviour? I think the modernisers in the Conservative party hope this issue will just go to ground."
The MP said that parties were split on the issue yet it is generally well known that only a small number of Labour MPs support repeal. Most of the support for repeal comes from Conservative MPs.
Our organisation-Conservatives Against Fox Hunting otherwise known as the Blue Fox Group, is acutely aware of the repeal issue in relation to Conservative MPs. The current support amongst many Conservative MPs for the repeal of the Hunting Act 2004 (which bans hunting with dogs sports, including hare coursing, hare and stag hunting besides fox hunting) raises uncomfortable perceptions of being seen as out of touch with the general public's support for a ban on such sports of the past. Poll after poll demonstrates the huge public support for the ban on fox hunting. Supporting outmoded sports conflicts with the modern progressive and compassionate image that politicians are generally keen to cultivate to attract further support for a party. Indeed unnecessary cruel sports involving the suffering of animals are being increasingly banned by other countries.
Costa Rica recently banned hunting as a sport. California has now banned hunting bears and bobcats with packs of hounds. Zambia has banned all sport hunting of lions and leopards. Catalonia banned bull fighting. Ireland recently made the historic decision to ban the hunting of stags with dogs in 2010. These are only some examples of progressive policies taking place and it is extraordinary that English and Welsh MPs are considering returning banned sports here while other countries are increasingly banning them and moving forwards with public opinion on these issues.
Our Nation has a proud history of pioneering higher animal welfare standards and an intolerance of unnecessary cruelty. We cannot be expected to influence other countries controversial policies on whaling and big game trophy hunting etc if we are seen internationally, to overturn an iconic piece of legislation heavily supported by the public and leading animal welfare organisations in the UK.
It is important for all political parties to demonstrate that they are modern parties, are in touch with people from all walks of life and engage more supporters. It is vital to attract womens votes and all political parties are keen to secure more women MPs in Parliament to more fairly represent 50% of our society.
It is a fact that animal welfare charities have heavy female membership. Some animal charities have up to 90% of their membership comprised by women supporters. It is perhaps significant also that the media, including the BBC and national newspapers has often reported of the Blue Fox Conservative women MPs who reject a return of banned sports. Our very first parliamentary reception in the House of Commons in 2010 for anti hunting Conservative MPs was sponsored and chaired by two Conservative women MPs.
There now appears to be a sea of change within the Conservative Party with Conservative MP’s increasingly recognising the public's increasing support for wildlife and environmental issues. As Benjamin Disraeli said “In a progressive country, change is constant, change is inevitable.”
The Coalition Government is now delaying plans to bring forward a free vote since there are more pressing concerns for our country.
We want to encourage undecided and unknown Conservative MPs to make the right decision and represent the mainstream majority view against hunting with dogs. We will continue to campaign for more fairer representation by our Conservative MPs on this issue and to show they are in touch with the majority opinion not only within the party but in the country and keep illegal sports banned.
Let’s not see a return of hunting with dogs and leave it consigned to history where it belongs. It is necessary to continue to look to the future and leave outmoded activities of the past behind. Future generations learn from our example and vision today.