Posts Tagged ‘Wilidlife

25
Apr
10

Making a stand against cruelty

Foxhunting scenes look very picturesque on table mats and on the sort of nostalgic olde worlde prints that you see framed on the walls of traditional country pubs.  All part of our country’s rich heritage, you might say.  But hang on a minute… so were bear baiting and cockfighting!  And making outspoken women wear scold’s bridles with spikes that impaled the tongue should any attempt be made to speak. 

Or deciding that a lonely old woman with a cat was obviously a witch, tying her thumb to her opposite toe and throwing her into deep water to see if she would drown (thus belatedly proving her innocence) or float to the top (indicating her guilt). 

Nowadays we would use words such as bullying or victimisation to describe such tactics.  So much for Merrie England! 

Today our more civilised society quite rightly protests vociferously whenever it sees cruelty, oppression, bullying, victimisation, discrimination, persecution or torture.  In the 19th century the RSPCA campaigned to stop bear baiting and cockfighting, which were finally outlawed by the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835. 

But massacring wildlife, including the fox population, continued to be a favourite leisure pursuit of the privileged, who did not even have the excuse of needing to hunt in order to feed themselves. Have you ever been offered fox casserole?  Oscar Wilde was quoted as saying, “The English country gentleman galloping after a fox is the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.”  So the Hunting (Ban) Act 2004 was actually long overdue when the Labour Government, in one of their most significant achievements, made it law on 18th February 2005. Surely nobody in these enlightened times would want to see a return to the bad old days, when a gang of bullies on horseback would pursue a terrified fox for miles until their baying hounds caught up with the exhausted animal & tore it to shreds..?  

What sort  of people would seriously want to indulge in such a barbaric practice in our civilised 21st century society?!  Well David Cameron for one… & the sort of people who would vote for him. I actually think you can tell a lot about people by asking them their views on foxhunting, so a few months ago I wrote to Newark’s then Conservative MP, Mr Patrick Mercer, and to the Labour candidate, Dr Ian Campbell, to find out what they both thought.

Dr Campbell wrote:

I believe “fox hunting” is wrong. There is nothing that can persuade me that chasing down an animal over several hours, and allowing a pack of hounds to tear it to death, and all for the pleasure of those in the hunt, can be reasonable. I accept the right of horsemen and women to ride together, where they have permission from the landowners, and to chase after a scent, as some hunt organisations still do. I don’t accept the hunting of foxes in this way. If they are to be regarded as a threat to farming livestock then they could be dealt with by alternative, quicker means. I do therefore support the ban on fox hunting and would not support its repeal.”

Mr Mercer’s Parliamentary Assistant wrote:

Patrick has asked me to thank you for your email of 13 November and confirm that he supports the repeal of the ban on foxhunting.”

Which led me to the inescapable conclusion that both animals and humans would be safer in the care of a Labour MP!  And that’s why I made the video clip for Youtube to support Dr Campbell’s election campaign. To find out more about Dr Ian Campbell, visit his website:

Protect Wildlife – Vote Labour!

Trish Gurney

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