Birmingham Diary: Save the bulls,whales, stags, hares, and even the foxes
By Andy McSmith
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
There is a meeting on the fringe of the conference this morning which is fated to be sparsely attended, and not just because it is at 8am. It will be gathering of Conservatives Against Fox Hunting. Yes, that word is “against”.
Tory MPs who opposed fox hunting used to be as rare as Labour MPs who defended it. Now there is a small but growing faction in the party who think it would be wrong or foolish to repeal the Hunting Act. In their manifesto, the Conservatives promised a free vote on the matter, with David Cameron committed to voting for legalisation.
The League Against Cruel Sports has a list of 19 Tory MPs who they say would oppose a repeal, most of them newly elected. Dominic Raab, Tory MP for Esher, is the main speaker at this morning’s meeting, though I understand that while he is opposed to stag hunting and hare coursing, he is not necessarily against fox hunting.
But his local party chairman, Chris Platt, is married to a campaigner who calls herself Blue Fox, aka Lorraine Platt, who is opposed to hunting with dogs.
“How can we influence other countries’ policies on bull fighting or whaling if we reverse a ban that was put in place to prevent cruelty?” she asks. “I’m not a politician and I’m not in any animal welfare organisation. I’m just a normal person in the street. Nearly everybody I know is against a repeal, yet this is not reflected in our party.”