Fox hunting again was an issue in the recent General Election. Conservatives Against Fox Hunting received tons of emails from Conservative supporters during the course of this election. Many expressed disappointment as to why a free vote on the future of the Hunting Act had once again been included in the latest Conservative Manifesto. Conservative supporters told us that they were going to reconsider voting for their Conservative Candidate if they supported repeal and others who said outright they could not vote for a Conservative Government as this issue was very important to them. Many Conservative supporters were saddened and dismayed that their views were not being represented by the party on this issue.
Let us be clear, the chances of the Hunting Act being repealed during this parliament are low. In the last parliament, 83 Conservative MP’s had committed to opposing any repeal of the Hunting Act should a free vote have been called. An additional number of Conservative MPs said they would have abstained. Indeed, during the last few weeks, an increasing number of previously pro-repeal Conservative MP’s reversed their earlier held position and said they would now not vote to repeal the hunting ban. We are confident that currently in excess of one third of Conservative MP’s would vote against repealing the Hunting Act.
The repeal issue is toxic and misrepresents the mainstream Conservative supporter as well as alienating the new generation of voters. It cements the opposition argument that there is a perception we are ‘for the few and not the many’ and it has the potential to show us as a party that does not listen not only to its supporters but the country. We must look forwards and not backwards and we must question why time and time again the party leadership listens to the small pressure group of hunt lobbyists.
To understand this perhaps we should look at how the hunting lobby has operated in the past. On the 5th of July 2016, following David Cameron’s resignation as party leader and at the beginning of the Conservative Party election campaign for a new leader, Simon Hart MP, present Chairman of the Countryside Alliance, wrote an article for the Spectator Magazine, ‘How the rural vote could decide the Conservative leadership race’.(https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/07/rural-vote-decide-conservative-leadership-race/). In the article, he claims their own research suggests there are at least 26,000 Countryside Alliance members who are also members of the Conservative Party – if this is the case- that is 20 percent of members who have a voting right to decide a new leader of the party. In the article, he asks a series of questions of potential leadership candidates including: ‘Can you confirm that you are opposed to the Hunting Act and that a commitment to resolve this injustice will remain in any future manifesto?’
It is interesting to note that the Telegraph reported on the 27th January 2001 “The RSPCA won its High Court battle yesterday to stop pro-hunt campaigners from infiltrating its ranks.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1319660/RSPCA-wins-right-to-block-hunt-lobby.html ). The Independent reported on the 19th of June 1999 , Fox hunters plan to hijack RSPCA’s annual meeting (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/fox-hunters-plot-to-hijack-rspcas-annual-meeting-1101217.html)
If rural votes were truly going to decide the Conservative Party leadership race or for that matter a general election then surely an anti-hunting candidate would win, as poll after poll reflects overwhelming public opposition to Hunting with dogs. This is opposed in equal measure in both the rural and urban areas. Latest polls show a staggering 84 % of rural voters oppose the repeal of the act.
We must now move on from the toxic repeal issue within our party. This will only be achieved by either the party itself looking at the voting effect this has or by grass root Conservative party supporters themselves.
If you are a Conservative supporter whose views reflect that of the anti-hunting majority alongside your other Conservative held opinions and you want to help keep hunting with dogs banned you must take action and join the party to help make a difference. It is necessary to become a voting member and have influence in the political party you support.
Each and every anti-hunting Conservative supporter has to take individual responsibility to end the strangle hold that the divisive repeal issue has held over our party. There is nothing contradictory about being a Conservative who cares about animal welfare. Join the Conservative Party and become a voting member here:
Remember; the pro-hunt lobby in their own words:
Acknowledge ‘hunting is a sport’
“never given up fighting for our sport”
Chairman of The Council of Hunting Associations
Acknowledge ‘Hounds tear live foxes apart’
“nor does she want to tear apart a live fox – that’s the job of the hounds,”
Consultant to the Countryside Alliance, Council of Hunting Associations and the All Party Parliamentary Middle Way Group
ConservativeHome – 3 June 2017
Acknowledge ‘that field sports remain their backbone’
“The Alliance has a wide agenda but field sports will remain its backbone, and repeal of the Hunting Act is a key objective.”
Former CEO of the Countryside Alliance
Politics.co.uk – 20th Sept 2010