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Issue 271
March/April 2012
Animals: A New Ethics

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Blue Fox
by
Tally Ho! by Julia Finzel www.juliafinzel.co.uk

Tally Ho! by Julia Finzel www.juliafinzel.co.uk

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Blue Fox

75% of people in the UK think fox hunting should remain illegal, yet the majority of Conservative MPs are pro repeal, says the Founder of Conservatives Against Fox Hunting

Blue Fox is the name of the founders of the group Conservatives Against Fox Hunting, which was established in 2010 by a Conservative Association chairman and his family. The group represents Conservative supporters who think hunting with dogs should remain illegal. The ban, which has been in place for several years, protects stags, hares and foxes from hunting with dogs. It also bans the cruel sport of hare coursing. The campaign’s slogan is “Don’t run with the pack”.

A few people claim they do not understand why Conservative supporters are opposing hunting with dogs in their Conservative capacity. They subscribe to the myth that all Conservatives are pro-hunting. We aim to dispel this myth as nonsense.

The offer of a free vote and the threat of a possible repeal is coming mainly from the politicians of the Conservative Party.

It makes sense that if two-thirds of Conservative supporters, as demonstrated by an Ipsos MORI poll for the League Against Cruel Sports in December 2009, think hunting should remain illegal, then politicans should be aware of this. Since over 90% of Conservative MPs have revealed a pro-repeal stance, this demonstrates that they are out of touch with public opinion on the issue.

It is clear that Conservative supporters against hunting with dogs should make their views known. Amplify the volume.

If we, as the public, all lie low and do not voice our concerns about wildlife legislation being overturned, then how will the politicians know that they are out of touch with their supporters on this issue? Silence can be interpreted as acceptance and consent. It is speaking out that gets attention, not giving up and keeping quiet. We have a responsibility as a nation to protect vulnerable wildlife. A very vocal pro-hunting minority, mainly within the Conservative Party, want to see a return of the banned illegal activity of hunting with dogs – not the majority.

Why should the pro-hunting lobby be left to dominate the lobbying platform to MPs in Westminster, and have no vocal opposition within the Conservative capacity? That’s not democratic or fair, especially when the pro-hunting fraternity are the minority.

Conservative politicians are more likely to listen to their own grass-roots supporters than to supporters of other parties. We are in a unique position to help them make a decision. We provide the supportive view of the ban, not its opposition. We act as a bridge with grass-roots supporters, and party officers with MPs. We encourage the decision makers to represent us, the majority of Conservative supporters, who think hunting should remain illegal.

Indeed 75% of the country thinks fox hunting should remain illegal.

It is vital that the Conservative MPs who are against repeal are supported for their stance. They are more isolated on this issue amongst their fellow Conservative MPs, yet join with an overwhelming majority of MPs from other parties who are against repeal.

This support transcends party affiliation.

We are disappointed when we are criticised by a small number of people in other political parties who claim to share the same goal of opposing repeal and yet shun people like us. They are misguided if they think that only a certain colour or party can oppose outmoded ‘sports’ involving our wildlife. No one has the monopoly on speaking out.

We encourage support to defend the Hunting Act ban from all directions, all political parties, all walks of life; we do not discriminate. The threat of repeal has to be opposed from every direction. It is vital that it is.

In these dire economic times the majority of people would be aghast that politicians are pressing for precious parliamentary time to be spent on overturning an effective six-year-old law set in place by the previous government to protect wildlife from hunting with dogs. Less than 0.6% of the population are involved in this activity, and it is certainly not a priority to call for a return of this outmoded activity for the more than 99% of the public who are not involved in this minority ‘sport’.

All our leading animal welfare organisations, including the most famous animal welfare organisation in the world – the RSPCA – advocate support for the Hunting Act 2004 to remain in place to protect wild mammals from unnecessary suffering, experienced in the chase and attack by dogs. Most people trust the expertise and experience of professional animal welfare organisations rather than a minority pro-hunting lobby, and they expect their MPs to represent this majority view against repeal.

Our nation has a proud history of pioneering higher animal welfare policies. Bull baiting, bear baiting and dog fighting – all activities that train dogs to attack animals as a social ‘recreation’ – were banned long ago. The drive to ban these activities was highly contested, yet nobody would dream of repealing the ban now.

The bull-baiting ban was flouted by a minority of people bent on continuing their ‘sport’ for decades before it was finally accepted. Hunting with dogs was only recently banned, and feelings still run high. A minority of people continue to flout the Hunting Act and try to ‘prove’ that it is unenforceable. The dog-fighting ban is also still flouted, yet we do not reward perpetrators by repealing the legislation. The longer the ban remains in place, the more embedded it will become in society.

How can we be expected to influence the controversial policies of other countries on whaling, bull fighting and lion hunting for example, if the international community sees us repealing one of our own laws, set in place to protect our wildlife? Let’s leave the past behind and move forward to where future generations will learn from our example today.

Lorraine Platt is a trustee of the League Against Cruel Sports, a founder of Blue Fox, and director of Conservatives Against Fox Hunting. www.conservativesagainstfoxhunting.com

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