That was Monday. Anne Brummer and I took up our accustomed places in Portcullis House and had a series of informal meetings with our animal-friendly MPs, who are now a growing and magnificent bunch. Men and women from all parties who feel as strongly as we do about the awfulness of this attempt to castrate the Hunting Act by subterfuge … made more scurrilous by a denial from Government lips that the Statutory Instrument is anything to do with Fox Hunting !
According to Owen Paterson speaking to me on Sky TV, it’s all about predation of lambs by foxes. Preposterous.
Cameron’s Minister of the Environment Liz Truss has just been “unable to supply” figures for predation of lambs … another porky pie, really, because there was a 5-year study of this by DEFRA, ending in 2004. Their conclusions were that foxes were an insignificant part of lamb mortality (less than 1 per cent) and efforts to kill more foxes were a waste of time.
Looking at it in perspective, this ‘minor technical amendment’ is a bunch of dirty tricks, unworthy of any government of the UK. Here are the shabby facts.
1. SI’s are not designed to make major changes to policy … like this undoubtedly is. To pretend this is just a technical adjustment is misleading and mendacious. It is a ruse to enable hunts to roam with full packs of dogs torturing foxes to death, all means of bringing a conviction being impossible with this amendment in force. It’s very sneaky, and it’s plain that the Government only resorted to this trickery because they perceived they were not going to win the ‘Free Vote on repeal' so long promised by David Cameron.
2. To add insult to injury, this SI was rushed into print with only 5 days notice … unheard of – designed to disable opposition (us) because there would no time available to marshall a response. (on this they miscalculated). They even chose budget day, bringing accusations from all sides that they’d tried to bury the news under the weight of budget discussions.
3. To pretend the SI is just about helping farmers in their ‘pest control’ is an obvious lie. It’s now well established that the Hunts keep the numbers of foxes up so they can continue their vile ‘sport’, and they actually breed the poor animals just to tip them out in a pitiful state in front of a pack of brutalised hounds.
4. To describe the SI as "Bringing the English Hunting Act in line with the Scottish one” is also a lie. There are many differences between the two acts – including jail sentences for offenders in Scotland, and still the Scots are investigating strengthening their act. There are many other differences. This is another attempt to hide the truth.
5. The Countryside Alliance have effectively blown Cameron’s cover, by for once telling the truth ! They have been calling on everyone to “Vote for Hunting” !! So really there is no doubt where this piece of Skulduggery came from.
6. To cap it all … wasn’t this Government prioritising economic recovery, tackling poverty, dealing with Europe, and the Greek crisis ? How in Hell’s name did it end up prioritising a return to blood sports ? Unbelievable. The last vote of this session. Spent on trying to revive an evil ‘sport’ which MUST remain history in the UK in 2015 and beyond.
Fox Hunting was banned in 2004, the latest in a series of anti-cruelty legislations which go back to 1822 with Richard Martin.
There is no going back to barbarity.
In the back of my mind is the invitation I had to go and join the NASA New Horizons team as their amazing spaceship passes close to PLUTO ! I was all set to get on a plane – the chance of a lifetime – but somehow, once this dastardly SI came to light, I just couldn’t see myself sitting in Washington DC on Wednesday while the Hunting Act was destroyed back home and Foxes put in greater peril of being abused – by gangs of bullies with full packs of dogs, with no possibility of conviction.
Whether we win the vote on Wednesday or not, I will be on that plane to Washington on Thursday !!
Tomorrow I have a day packed with media stuff …
And we have our Rally at 11 am … at which I will speak. Then back into Portcullis House … to meet with some SNP heroes among others !! Amazing that the SNP guys have decided to vote with us. Truly a great decision, since Cruelty to Animals is a world issue.