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.