Author Archive for Robert Brown

19
Oct
09

Priorities

I was presenting a ‘Keep the Hunting Act’ petition on the doorstep last week. I found the response very interesting. A vast majority ofPetition respondents signed the petition, admittedly I was in Brighton which is not representative of the nation, but I maintain that the ban has public support, a recent poll suggesting support was at 75%. People who signed the petition were from a cross-section of parties including the Conservatives, in fact the very same poll concluded that 62% of Conservative voters support the ban, yet still the Tory leadership call for a vote. This, to me, seems shocking but support has already been discussed at length on this blog; I want to deal with something else.

One response that I received at the doorstep was very interesting; I was told that our priorities were wrong, that whilst he agreed with the petition he would not sign it. I was told we should be talking about the economy, about jobs. There is some sense in what he said, we need to talk The cruelty of huntersabout the economy, and we need to talk about all the big issues that affect everyone. This does not mean that we should allow the Conservatives to trample on our legacy and pursue their own self-interest. It would be foolish for us to base our whole election campaign on hunting, but we must show people what the Tories will do if they come to power.

The Conservative eagerness to repeal the Hunting Act demonstrates three things. Firstly it shows their continued support for bloodlust something partly due to hunting being embedded deep into Tory culture but also due to the finance the hunt lobby continue to provide for the Tories. Secondly it represents a challenge to Parliamentary democracy, turning back more than fifty years of campaigning, mass public support and . Thirdly it suggests a broader return to the old order, where Conservative MP’s defend their own interests and protect their own hobbies over what is right.

When we look at priorities, the Conservatives want to give themselves and their buddies the right to chase foxes and have their dogs slaughter them; weDavid Cameron want to create jobs for the unemployed, opportunities for the young working generation and help for the most vulnerable. It is not Labour that has their priorities wrong. It is the Conservatives who have gone out of their way to formulate a scheme to bring fox hunting back; we are only defending what is ethically right. Labour has better policies around the key issues and the Conservative lack substance in all the main policy areas. It is our job to raise awareness of hunting and many other issues where the Conservatives are wrongly prioritising and more importantly wrong.

17
Sep
09

Labour and Democracy V Hunters and Conservatives

The votes on hunting throughout the Labour government were free votes. Meaning we saw true representative democracy; MP’s voted for what they thought was right, what they thought their constituents wanted and most importantly what they thought would help them get re-elected. This means that there can be no protestation that MP’s only voted for a ban because they were whipped as such, and certainly not that voters did not really want a ban. The Lord’s may have tried to block the ban, and the old conservative establishment might have prevented the ban since 1949; but in the end democracy won out. Eventually, in 2004, the thousands of protesters, the millions of supporters and more than fifty years worth of cries were heard. Yet it is amazing how closely the vote was to traditional party lines despite the free vote, there will be no Conservatives who voted for the ban left after the next election, they are still a party full of hunters.

It is recent legislation, it is popular legislation and every independent poll shows it has public support. In fact the main criticism of the ban has been that it does not go far enough, and that it is not being policed stringently. These criticisms are to a large extent fair, but this is no reason to step back into the past and legalise bloodlust.

So on what democratic authority can Conservatives call for repeal?

There are those who will argue that if the Conservatives win the next election with a majority they will have a mandate to vote on repeal, it will be democracy in action. But that is simply not true; if the Conservatives win the next election they will not have majority support it is the nature of our electoral system; effective governments can be formed with 35%  vote share. Exempting one independent a sprinkling of Liberal Democrats and some Northern Irish MP’s only Conservatives voted to keep foxhunting completely unlicensed. Unless by some bloodthirsty hunter’s fantasy the Conservatives get a fifty percent share of the vote, there can be no real claims of democratic mandate, most people will vote for parties who are against fox hunting.

We are all wise enough to understand that with unemployment, public service cuts and issues of trust, foxhunting is not high on the priority list for most voters. This will only help the Conservatives sneak repeal minded candidates into Parliament unnoticed. Do not believe claims by some Conservatives that they do not support hunting, only the right to hunt; they are still funded by the hunting lobby, their core voters are hunters, many Conservatives (including Cameron) are brought up in a culture of hunting. They obviously put their own self interest, their own bloodthirsty pastimes above majority opinion. By repealing the ban they will oppose democracy, let us hope it takes the repealers more than the 56 years we spent, to get their evil way.

Rob Brown




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