01
Nov
09

Minister challenges hunting lobby over claims.


U-turn by pro-hunt lobby welcomed by anti-hunt MP as survey shows support for hunting ban is increasing

A major u-turn by the pro-hunt Countryside Alliance has been welcomed by Labour’s Rural Affairs and Environment Minister Dan Norris MP.

The pro-hunt organisation this weekend admitted its Dan Norris MPprevious claims, that a hunting ban would lead to a loss of jobs and fewer hounds, were nonsense. Its own figures show that the introduction of Labour’s ban on fox hunting has seen many hunts employing more staff, and keeping more hounds.

“People will remember that one of the main reasons given by the pro-hunt lobby for opposing the ban on the cruelty of hunting was that it would decimate employment,” said Dan Norris, whose anti-hunt stance has made him and his staff the subject of violence from pro-hunters. “I very much welcome their new admission they got it completely wrong, and that Labour’s hunting ban has removed the cruelty that was keeping decent people away.

“Everyone knows that the ban was never intended to stop people from the enjoyment of riding horses with hounds in the beautiful countryside. It was intended to stop the cruel ripping to pieces of foxes by dogs, as cheering blood-hungry hunters urged them on.

Fox Hunting“I think some people will be surprised that The Countryside Alliance is making this admission. But they will also suspect they’re doing it because as ever they want to distort the truth for their own ends. Let us not forget that their objective is legalising the cruelty of killing foxes for fun, and they are backed in this by the Tory Party.“

Mr Norris warned the threat to the popular fox hunting ban is real.

“Conservatives have promised that if they win the next election they will give government time to open the way for the cruelty of hunting to be legalised,” he said.

“It follows an admission by Tory leader David Cameron that he himself has hunted foxes. It is, of course, known that his family are very active in blood sports and that large financial contributions to his party have come fromDavid Cameron pro-hunt donors on the back of pledges to legalise hunting.”

“I think Mr Cameron’s narrow life experience, including as it does going hunting, has led to a decision that will cost him dear. Hundreds of

thousands of people will be casting their votes with animal welfare in mind at the next general election. For a serious political party to say ’vote for us, we will increase cruelty’ is a form of madness combined with a touch of arrogance.”

Mr Norris also pointed out the usual distorted approach of the pro-hunt lobby in trying to talk up levels of support for a repeal of the ban.

“Only a completely hunting-obsessed organisation like the Countryside Alliance would try to shout loudly about a survey like the one it is currently touting around the nation’s newsrooms,” he said.

“To claim so-called record levels of support for repeal, when it is based on their own survey of their own selected people, is laughable. Why didn’t they ask ordinary members of the public rather than hunt members to get real measure of the true support for hunting? Not a chance. It’s a bit like conducting a survey of convicted murderers to find they feel they are misunderstood.

“I offer pro-hunters this tip if they really seeking the truth: get out in the real world, stop just talking to those who hunt, and ask ordinary people their views. They would then know loud and clear the opposition to the cruelty they seek is increasing.

“In the 12 years since I was first elected as MP, hardly a week has gone by without me receiving letters and emails from constituents about animal welfare issues in general – and hunting in particular.

“The Tory threat to re-introduce hunting has ensured it is once again a major talking point. And cruelty should be debated, since how we treat animals is the mark of a civilised society. That it will be a key dividing line in the coming Tory versus Labour two-horse election race here in ultra-marginal North East Somerset is something I completely welcome.

“I have been looking through the initial findings of the latest of my Young Foxregular constituency-wide consultations – this one is about the Tory threat to legalise hunting. The signs are that local opposition to hunting is stronger than it ever was, underlining the fact that for the vast majority of decent North East Somerset people the way we treat animals is a true measure of how civilised our society is.”

Mr Norris added “Getting hunting banned was never going to be easy and some readers may recall TV and newspaper pictures of physical attacks on me by a pro-hunt mob. Indeed, one of my female staff was beaten up. Stones were thrown at other staff. Dead animals have been disrespectfully disfigured and dumped at my offices. These actions reveal much about the kind of people who support hunting, as do some of the disturbing rituals, such as smearing a fox’s blood on a child’s head at their first kill.”

Notes

The Countryside Alliance news release, issued on Friday 30 October, which contains its claims about so-called ‘record levels of support’ as well as statistics highlighting increased numbers of people being employed by hunts since the ban, can be found on the organisation’s website here:

http://www.countryside-alliance.org.uk/hunting-campaigns/hunting-events/last-hunting-season-under-the-ban?/

* The Countryside Alliance sent a survey to 300 hunts, and responses have included the following statistics:

93% of respondents report that they have the same number or more subscribers than before the Hunting Act came into force
61% feel that subscriptions will be boosted yet further by repeal of the Hunting Act.

89% of respondents report an increase in support from their communities since the Act.

73% of respondents have the same number of hounds as pre Act
10% have more hounds
76% have the same number of employees as pre-Hunting Act.
10% have more employees than pre-Act
6% have fewer employees

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