After The Fox
I can’t pretend I am much bothered about the welfare of the fox, but similarly I am not too bothered about the welfare of fox hunters. I suppose I sympathize with anyone who could lose their job, as people connected with hunts may do if fox hunting is made illegal, but then again I don’t argue against world peace on the grounds it would put defence contractors out of a job.
However I do support the proposed ban on fox hunting, and the reason has nothing to do with animal cruelty. It also has nothing to do with class warfare. George Monbiot makes a good case (as he usually does) that banning fox hunting is, and should be, about class, but I don’t agree. In fact I honestly don’t think of hunt supporters as being a load of toffs. I guess all sorts of people get involved for all sorts of reasons.
No, the reason I want to ban fox hunting is because I am sick of hunt supporters spouting arrogant rubbish on our TV’s, spreading their bogus arguments and narrow minded bigotry. Perhaps if we ban fox hunting they can go and do some knitting or something similar and just leave us alone.
I am fed up with hearing that this is an attack upon the countryside by city folk. Well, I’m sorry, but last time I looked we were one nation, who all pay taxes to a national government, who make decisions in a parliamentary democracy on behalf of us all. This Government was elected in 1997 on a Manifesto which stated they would have a free vote in the Commons on hunting, and that is what it has done. If the majority of people in this country want to ban fox hunting, and their elected representatives pass a bill to do so in Parliament, then that is good enough for me. If I am not allowed to have an opinion on what goes on in the country, then presumably country folk are not allowed to comment on what happens in the city. In fact, perhaps they should not have been allowed into a city like London last week to protest, at great expense to the Metropolitan Police and Greater London council-taxpayers.
I am tired of hearing that this is about class war, and is just an attack by Labour backbenchers on the Upper Classes. This may be the motivation for some Labour MPs, but as Nigel Farndale reminds us in a brilliantly honest article in the Sunday Telegraph, the bill is about banning hunting with dogs, not just fox hunting. Hare coursing will also be banned, but this working class sport will be outlawed within 3 months of the bill becoming law; no mention there of the 18 month stay of execution that fox hunting has. Is it just possible that this is about animal welfare?
I am wearying of talk that this is an assault on human rights. But human rights don’t currently allow us to go badger-baiting, or cat-stabbing, or various other cruel acts. I think you can still be hanged if you kill a swan can’t you? Or is that just an urban myth. Perhaps you just have to apologize in person to the Queen, and promise that you will never, ever, do such a thing again, while looking really sorry. And then they set a swan on you. Perhaps.
I am sick of being told that Labour is fixated with fox hunting, and that it spends to much precious parliamentary time discussing the issue. Well if the Lord’s just obeyed the will of the Commons it wouldn’t have to spend so long discussing it, and we could get onto other issues. If they were that obsessed with the issue they would have banned hunting within weeks of the election in 1997, Parliament Act and all. That 7 years on we are still here suggests foot dragging to me, not obsession.
My sides are aching from being told, countlessly, that shooting and gassing are more cruel, and less efficient, ways of controlling the fox population. What? More cruel than being ripped to shreds by a pack of dogs? Less efficient than 40 men on horseback and 80 hounds chasing one fox. Which we then get told they very rarely catch, presumably to make us feel better about it all. And I know many hunt supporters cite the Burns report which states hunting is no more cruel than the other options, but it seems not unreasonable to take a different view. Suffice it to say that should the tragic day come when my trusty Collie has to be put down, chasing him across a field before tearing him to pieces will be an option I will reject.
And how many more inappropriate hunt supporters must we have to listen too. At the time of the last, huge countryside march in London, I remember reading the Daily Mail boasting of how many people from other countries had gone on the march, with pictures of Elle McPherson and the like. Excuse me, but what the hell do they have to do with it. Oh right; as a British Citizen, albeit one who lives in an urban area, I am not entitled to an opinion on bloodsports in this country, but a foreign national, in this case an Australian model, is? Right, I get it. Personally I don’t feel I have the right to tell the Spanish whether or not they ban Bull Fighting, but perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps anyone who agrees with your viewpoint has a valid opinion and anyone who disagrees doesn’t. Fine, I understand now. And how many “country folk” have you seen interviewed who only became country folk 3 years ago when they moved to the New Forest from Solihull and bought a red tunic.
I know there are a number of other minor issues to consider. The bill should not be used as a sop to Labour backbenchers to apologize for the war in Iraq, because there shouldn’t have been a war in Iraq, but there you go. Historically the Parliament Act has only been used for matters of national importance, which fox hunting isn’t, but the preeminence of the elected commons over the unelected lords is, so there. And yes, the Lords should be an elected chamber and that it isn’t is largely down to Blair, but what can you do? None of these things effect the main issue. That fox hunting should be banned in order that we are spared fox hunters.
There is one issue, however, where I feel they have a point, and it is in the way the Police reacted to the demonstration last week. Seeing otherwise law-abiding people bludgeoned with truncheons was shocking and disturbing.
It just wasn’t appropriate. Surely the Police should have called up all their available mounted officers and dog handlers, and then released their hounds on the hunt supporters to the sound of a tooting horn. To see how they like it.