Friday, 11 May 2007

Ten Years - of the Countryside Alliance

I don't hunt. I never have. I do value it highly, though, and defend absolutely the rights of others to do so. The threat to hunting is a threat to shooting and fishing - both of which I do take part in. Blair's assault on the country during the past ten years is one of the most pernicious, corrosive and spiteful socialist conceits since the wasted years of nationalisation. At home over Christmas, the numbers turning up to see our local hunt off (see pic) on Boxing Day were record. As Labour returns, beaten and cowed, to their inner-city slums after the recent elections the lesson is clear - don't mess with us. Simon Hart's summary is excellent and I reproduce it in full below.

Tony Blair will leave office on 27th June. Now that this particular chapter is drawing to a close it is worth reflecting that not only has Mr Blair presided over a decade of neglect of the countryside; his rural legacy will be the Hunting Act: the most ridiculous and derided law of modern times. For his Deputy, John Prescott, the legacy is simply one of contempt.

It is actually with sadness that I can find almost nothing positive to recall by way of Blair's achievements for rural people, apart from perhaps his appointment of the ever-sensible Jeff Rooker and a glimmer of hope offered by David Miliband at DEFRA.

The Countryside Alliance was created ten years ago in response to fears that the new Labour Government was hostile to, or ignorant of, many rural concerns. The role of the Alliance has proved all too necessary. From the disastrous handling of the Foot and Mouth outbreak to the disgraceful fiasco of the Rural Payments Agency, Blair's decade has been marked from first to last by chaos in the countryside.

But it was the appointment of Margaret Beckett and Alun Michael to DEFRA that showed the true extent of Blair's misunderstanding of rural issues. The problems and frustrations faced by rural communities were amplified by the appointment of urban-minded ministers who were drafted in to a Department that has failed to prove itself fit for purpose. Changing the name of MAFF to DEFRA in 2001 was a case of changing the plaques on the door of the London-based HQ - the remorselessly metropolitan outlook remained the same.

In the end the only rural policy that Mr Blair's Government will be remembered for is the pointless and derided Hunting Act, described by his mentor, Roy Jenkins, as 'the most illiberal act of the last century'.

It is shameful that Mr Blair allowed 700 hours of Parliamentary time to be wasted on a pointless law, which has failed at every level, when the countryside deserved so much more.

In 1997 many people thought that Blair was a fresh hope but that hunting was on borrowed time. What a difference a decade makes. Ten years on the hunting community remains intact, and repeal a real possibility. Meanwhile, Tony Blair will be remembered for creating tension, division and unhappiness in the countryside. The illiberal, unjust and vindictive Hunting Act will be his rural legacy.

Simon Hart


Guthrum said...

I ride, but don't hunt, (not courageous enough)though a melee on horseback with swords, and cannons roaring is one of the most exciting things I have done. The Nu Lab project is largely over now, and repeal of the class war anti hunting act must be on the cards- we need colour in our lives, and a few less foxes. Anybody wh has ever seen the aftermath of a Chicken coop after a fox has been in, will know that they are not cuddly little dogs.

Newmania said...

How would feel about a couple of asbo kids torturing a puppy to death on your door step then R ? Should that be legal ? Or Bear baiting or dog fighting ?
The difference in the last is that it is a working class animal sport . Nothing else.

There are any number of excellent sports I could invent that would very likely get a following but I am tempted by a horse fighting , in which a horse is slowly hacked to pieces for the edification of the baying crowd between rounds at the boxing.

(Boxing is well worth going to actually and much improved by strict attention to the health of the fighters )

Or is it just the priveleged who get to enjoy the many obvious atttractions of animal pain then ?


"As Labour returns, beaten and cowed, to their inner-city slums after the recent elections the lesson is clear - don't mess with us."
Are you expressing contempt for the poor or the Labour Party ?

I `m sort of kidding as ( naturally I couldn`t give a rats arse about hunting ),still there are conceptual problems IMHO

Sabretache said...

Newmania's comments are typical of the class hatred that facilitated the Hunting Act. His ignorance of the difference between baiting a tethered, captive animal as a betting fixture and using the closest thing to natural predation that man can devise to manage a rural pest is also typical.

The last fox our hunt caught legally had a gangrenous wound in its hindquarters. If hounds had not found it, it might have lasted another week or two before dying of starvation. Hunts used to account for thousands of shot-gun and RTA wounded foxes; and they always caught the less fit/healthy animals that, by definition, became the nuisance ones. But no longer. Still, out of sight out of mind eh? So long as country folk obey the dictates of ignorant hate filled class-war warriors. Who gives a toss about the welfare disaster that the Hunting Act has visited upon foxes anyway?

Raedwald said...

Mr N - our local hunt is pretty working class, too. Many hunt followers work around a 60 hour week,hard uncomfortable physical graft, and earn about the same as a London typist. It's pretty democratic - a car dealer, an estate agent and the blacksmith as well as tenant farmers and local vets. By no means public school and Oxbridge - more the local comp and Agricultural College. This class thing that so obsesses London is a bit different in the sticks. A retired colonel and a signalman's widow live side by side and exchange pleasantries over the fence.

Having shot a few foxes myself I'm pretty sure if I were a fox I'd prefer the certainty of a strong pair of jaws clamped around my neck and a very quick end to carrying shotgun pellets that penetrate my gut wall and leave me to die a stinking gangrenous painful death in a muddy ditch.

If you haven't yet seen Molly Dineen's recent documentary 'The Lie of the Land' I urge you to do so; I haven't blogged about it yet as it's still too raw and too close to my own experience.

I know you're just trying to kick a debate off, but poor old Sabretache's rising BP has just pushed the mercury out of the tube ... ;-)

mens sana said...

There are many conceptual problems as NM calls them in this debate, but the truth is that people brought up in rural areas have a greater acceptance of the fact that animals (and people) die. It is natural and may be unpleasant and painful.

Does hunting add significantly to the cruelty in nature? I don't think so. Indeed there is no doubt that the welfare of the greatest number of foxes is best served by living in hunting country. Now hunting has stopped, foxes are routinely shot (see raedwalds point qv) and poisoned. Deer on the LACS sanctuary are dying of neglect. But at least they are not hunted.

Now what the anti hunting brigade can't cope with is the fact that people might enjoy it. Now I would contend that enjoying hunting is no different morally from enjoying the feel of a pair of leather trousers or a good steak, but the metropolitans (who don't see animals dying at all often) see that in some way it is morally repugnant to enjoy participating in the death, though not to enjoy the end result. They would rather the animals were neglected and left to starve to a miserable and disease ridden (but unhunted) death. In a bizarre way, the antis are more interested in improving (as they see it) the moral standards of the hunters than in improving the welfare of the hunted animal. That is what I call a conceptual problem.

The ban had everything to do with class, but the debate shouldn't. It should be about animal welfare, and it should be informed by people who understand something about animals

Lilith said...

I blame that stupid film "The Belstone Fox" for all the hysteria.

Newmania said...

OOops yes ...I have a a long and enjoyable history of annoying hunting fans R and I meant to get back to it but ...sadly work intervened.

" Class hatred " Pshaw ! Oh what fun

Still if I ran about the place shooting people it wouldn`t add significantly to the " Cruelty of nature". I do8ubt myself there is really any special moral difference between various sorts of beast baiting but I think the justification is in tradition and context a rather less easy arguement to make .

Naturally the notion that the state should stop people doing something they like and harms noone is not for me !! . Sorry Sabertache

Colin Campbell said...

Being brought up in rural Scotland, the arrival of the hunt to jump through our local fields was always a source of interest. We had the hounds run through our front yard on a number of occasions. So I have a strong attachment to the image of the hunt. I always enjoy seeing pictures of middle aged men in red jackets. Not in the least bit interested in participating however. I think that it was very rare that they actually ever caught a fox.

Lilith said...

Most domestic cats don't Need to hunt. But they still do it. The desire to hunt and the enjoyment of it is a relatively straightforward part of our programming. Just because it has got dull and predictable (a trip to Tescos) doesn't mean the gene is not powerfully present in some of us. Nothing to do with class. Perhaps it is the ancient perception (carried in the genes) that the Hunter is powerful, thus the anti's have an automatic inferiority response.

Lilith said...

I have never hunted, but I have seen carnage in the hen house and limping foxes on the horizon.