Six years on, public even more opposed to hunting

Most people don’t much like hunting, so the more they complain about their lost rights, the more opposition to their cause hardens.

Our guest writer is Liam Raftery, campaigner at the League Against Cruel Sports

Today’s revelations in The Independent that the hunting community is being cajoled into supporting pro-hunting PPCs in marginal constituencies on the promise that a Conservative Government has promised a free vote on repeal of the Hunting Act, proves just one thing: the hunters’ own naivety.

The hunters set up “Vote OK”, a pretty innocuous sounding front for election campaigning by bloodsports enthusiasts, after the Hunting Act was passed in 2004, motivated they claim by Alun Michael MP who said that “…if people wish to continue their opposition to legislation, they have the option of the ballot box through which to express their views”. By supporting PPCs who promise to vote for repeal of the Act, Vote OK claim on their own website to have had impact in recent by-elections and are organising hard for the forthcoming general election.

The problem for the hunters is that public opinion is so far removed from their motivations, a fact highlighted by the Independent. Monthly polling by YouGov on behalf of the League Against Cruel Sports shows that support for repeal of the Hunting Act averages just 24%, with a further poll by ORB commissioned by the Countryside Alliance showing that just 19% support repeal. As the Independent said this morning:

“Most people don’t much like hunting, so the more they complain about their lost rights, the more opposition to their cause hardens.

Vote OK claim to be promoting democracy but at the same time their website states their clear aim to “take country sports off the political agenda” which, by stifling debate and discussion, is fundamentally undemocratic. They claim to be politically independent and yet they are only working to oust anti-hunting Labour MPs in favour of pro-hunting Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. One of their key campaigners is an agent for a Conservative MP in Wiltshire. This is not political independence.

Their campaign also fails to acknowledge that there is support for the hunting ban right across the political spectrum. A grassroots campaign, Conservatives Against Fox Hunting, launched in January and data collected for our Keep Cruelty History campaign shows that a good number of Conservative PPCs would not support repeal. Amongst Liberal Democrats, support remains high and in some constituencies, such as Torbay, an anti-hunting Liberal Democrat is facing a challenge from an anti-hunting Conservative. Vote OK do not like to be beside that seaside.

Visitors to the Keep Cruelty History website can find out how PPCs in their constituency say they would vote on repeal of the Hunting Act, and many thousands of visitors are doing so. Savvy anti-hunting PPCs around the country are using hunting to raise other animal welfare issues, whilst pro-hunting PPCs are – predictably – tending to keep quiet.

Hunting might not be a key issue alongside health, education and law and order, but it does have a resonance with the public who firmly want to see hunting remain a thing of the past. The Independent leader this morning got it bang on in their “election advice to hunters: let sleeping dogs lie”.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today. 

32 Responses to “Six years on, public even more opposed to hunting”

  1. Vanessa Morriss

    RT @shamikdas: Hate hunting?Vote Labour! RT @leftfootfwd: Six years on, public even more opposed hunting: <GET A Life!

  2. Rezina

    RT @leftfootfwd: Six years on, public even more opposed to hunting:

  3. LACS

    RT @leftfootfwd: Six years on, public even more opposed to hunting:

  4. Neil Wigglesworth

    RT @ChrispLOL RT @shamikdas: Hate hunting? Vote Labour! @leftfootfwd: 6 years on, public even more opposed to hunting:

  5. Shamik Das

    Hate hunting? Vote Labour! RT @leftfootfwd: Six years on, public even more opposed to hunting:

  6. Ben Cooper

    RT @leftfootfwd: Six years on, public even more opposed to hunting: #backtheban

  7. Chris Paul

    RT @shamikdas: Hate hunting? Vote Labour! RT @leftfootfwd: Six years on, public even more opposed to hunting:

  8. Bryony Victoria King

    RT @shamikdas: Hate hunting? Vote Labour! RT @leftfootfwd: Six years on, public even more opposed to hunting:

  9. Vanessa Morriss

    Good to note Labour supporters still getting their priorities right: Left Foot Forward: via @addthis

  10. Kimberly Toogood

    RT @BenCooper86 RT @leftfootfwd Six years on, public even more opposed to hunting: #backtheban

  11. topsy_top20k_en

    Six years on, public even more opposed to hunting:

  12. Adrian Hollister

    RT @leftfootfwd: Six years on, public even more opposed to hunting:

  13. Billy Blofeld

    I fish – I eat everything I catch. I’m fine with hunting if you eat what you kill.

    I used to be anti-fox hunting, however, the way Labour has gone about this has been appalling. It has been pure class warfare – the welfare of foxes has long stopped being the central cause for concern.

    Thus I have moved from anti, to supporting anyone that is willing to stick two fingers up to this oppressive and bullying government.

  14. giles bradshaw

    The Hunting Act as far as it applies to me is barking mad. I flush red deer out of cover as an alternative to shooting them. Dispersal of Red Deer makes perfect sense to a small woodland owner. Deer roam freely and they do not have to be shot just moved on.

    Because I take my dogs to the wood this is now illegal unless I then kill the deer.

    This law is badly thought out and badly drafted.

    Why should I have to shoot the deer I flush out? It makes no sense and it is far less cruel not to kill them at all.

  15. giles bradshaw

    “Thus I have moved from anti, to supporting anyone that is willing to stick two fingers up to this oppressive and bullying government.”

    Good on you. I openly break the Hunting Act in a regular basis on my farm in Devon.

    I do so with the full knowledge of LACS and the police.

  16. Max p

    RT @leftfootfwd: Six years on, public even more opposed to hunting:

  17. Henry

    Maybe someone should start a ‘Fox Fund’ to help those MPs being targeted by the pro-hunting mob….

  18. Robert

    My Conservative PPC in Birmingham Edgbaston is, apparently, still undecided.

    Bearing in mind she’s been the Conservaive PPC since before the 2005 general election I would have thought she’s had enough time to make her mind up, don’t you?

  19. Chris

    Can the author tell us who are the “good number” of Tory PPCs who are against repeal? How many? There is myth that large numbers of Tory PPCs are anti hunt. It is just that.. a myth. As for the ‘tories against hunting’ group it seems to be a couple of people with no influence who on their site say they ‘support David Cameron’. An oxymoron if ever there was one! The bottom line is that a Tory government means hunt ban repeal, it is what they have planned for for many years. It is disingenuous of the author (who works for a charity so not best placed to comment) to make out that there are large numbers of Tory PPCs who are anti hunt. If you want to stop the return of the barbarism of hunting (hare coursing, fox hunting and stag hunting) vote Labour and help your local anti hunt candidate in the marginal seats.

  20. Mr. Sensible

    Desperate hunters, again.

  21. Mr. Sensible

    Billy that’s wrong.
    And Henry I wonder what the game is?

  22. Linda

    Giles Bradshaw, I sincerely feel very sorry for you, how about just spending time appreciating the beauty of a deer, because they really are very beautiful, rather than having to destroy them, as I said I feel very sorry for you, a little spiritually bankrupt me thinks.

  23. Gary Hills

    We are pleased that this issue of Vote OK and the underhand way the hunting lobby operate has been raised. The cloud of hidden secrecy is as deep as Lord Ashcroft. David Cameron encourages Vote OK and it easy to argue he is reliant on them. Yet he is not so keen for the public to know whose knocking at their door. Knocking that is as a Conservative Party canvasser.

    Little wonder with the public reaction to blood junkies being at an all time low. Yet these so called canvassers are undermining democracy and deceiving the nation on a grand scale.

    Our democracy deserves better than Vote OK and deceptions created to hide their actions. David Cameron’s continues to show again and again that he cares more for a tiny fraction of society then the views of the majority. His love for bloodsport is one of his biggest motivations.

    So any message that exposes the risk and harm to our wildlife from a Conservative win is welcome. Below is a direct quote from Vote OK. It clearly states the majority of pro hunting candidates they support are Conservative.

    “Nicky Sadler, of Vote-OK, described the organisation yesterday as like a “rural dating agency” that puts hunts and other countryside pressure groups in touch with political parties in marginal seats. “Introductions have been made in 140 seats across the country,” she said. “We are helping some Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru candidates, but no Labour. The majority are Conservatives”

    There is something however we do disagree with about this article. That is the view that there are a large proportion of Tory candidates who support the hunting ban. That just not the case, the percentage is tiny and the majority of them stand no chance at even winning their seats.

    Yet that is beside the point, the Tories with David Cameron will repeal the hunting ban if elected. No tiny band of Tory MPs who oppose hunting will change that. We equally disagree with the group Conservative Against Fox Hunting. For while with the best intentions it fails to help any animals with their man message.

    That message and how it comes across is (It’s OK to vote Tory as there are a few fluffy ones) that simply is not the right approach to saving our wildlife. What was lacking I’m sorry to say from this article was any mention of Labour and their candidates. It is fantasy to assume you can protect the hunting ban without Labour in office.

    Labour MPs on mass over decades have supported the campaign to bring in the hunting ban. So it stands to reason it is only Labour MPs who will protect the ban now and make it stronger.

    Labour MPs have given support to LACS and many animal groups in the past 13 years and beyond. They deserve support and they should be credited for the work they have done.

    This view of helping promote Conservatives Against Fox Hunting is not helpful. Nor is it helpful to imply there are mass ranks of Tory candidates in support of the hunting ban. It’s just not the case and it is not a credible message. It also fails to see the real message that needs to be out there.

    That message is clear only Labour will protect the hunting ban and ensure it remains. For the welfare of our wildlife it is vital that message is heard.

    Gary Hills
    Campaign Director

    Support the Hunting Act(BAN)UK

  24. Geoffrey Woollard

    I do not believe that Giles Bradshaw is a real farmer. A real farmer would never have the time to write such drivel on so many different sites. Get real, Mr Bradshaw, and do some real farming for a change.

  25. Chris

    Totally agree Gary,very well put. Thanks for speaking out.

  26. Sue

    LACS should be taking the fight to the Tories but you will not find a single mention of Cameron on their website.LACS made a huge blunder in changing to a charity, this article is typical of the kind of things they are putting out before the election which give the Tories a free ride. I would ask people to look at the far more up front and effective IFAW site where they name it for what it is and actually name David Cameron!

  27. Mr. Sensible

    Agreed entirely with Garry.

  28. Steve

    Yes – LACS did make a fundamental, strategic mistake in changing to a charity, which means they can’t state the otherwise simple message = a vote for the Conservative Party is a vote for hunting with hounds. I have written to David Cameron perhaps six times now, asking why he advocates cruelty. I have had a reply each time, totally ignoring my question. I wonder just why they can’t answer it directly..? Equally, the Conservatives Against Fox Hunting group – it’s two individuals. The PCCs have been instructed by Central Office – they robotically trot exactly the same sentences, whatever they might actually believe personally. There isn’t long to ram the message home – William Hague has repeatedly stated repeal of the ban will come quickly. If you vote Tory, you vote for fox-, hare- and stag-hunting, and it should be on your conscience forever.

  29. giles bradshaw

    “rather than having to destroy them,”

    Linda you have completely missed my point I don;t kill the deer I am opposed to having to kill the deer.

    It is the Hunting Act that states that I can only flush them out if I then shoot them.

    This isn’t drivel as GW states it is there in black and white in the law.

    Have you even read it?

  30. Derek

    I’ve never seen anyone actually explain what the point is of the shooting requirement? It strikes me that it is complete madness to have it in the Hunting Act.

    I think Giles makes a very good point. If he wishes just to flush the deer then he should not have to kill them.

    We should support not criminalise such alternatives to killing animals.

  31. giles bradshaw

    Despite the claims of Labour’s ‘Back the Ban’ campaign the Hunting Act did not ban hunting with dogs, it modified it. Stag Hunts used to flush out deer with dogs, pursue them until they turned and faced the dogs at which point the deer was shot in the head at point blank range.

    In terms of animal welfare there was a trade off between the most humane means of shooting the deer and the previous pursuit. This contrasted with stalking where a lung shot is used which means a higher chance of wounding but where there is no pursuit unless the animal is wounded and needs to be followed up with dogs.

    The key change that the Hunting Act brought into force was that the deer can no longer be pursued till they stand at bay but must be shot as soon as possible after the animal is flushed out. This means that the deer has to be shot while it is fleeing the dogs. This carries a massively higher risk of wounding in which case the deer will be followed up with the dogs until a second shot is possible.

    A court ruling obtained by the League Against Cruel Sports means that when the dogs flush out deer the hunt must have enough guns to slaughter the entire herd if one is flushed. Prior to the Hunting Act the hunts could select just one deer to be killed. This replaces wildlife management with pest control.

    A further bizarre consequence of the law is that whereas previously landowners could take their dogs into woods to flush deer in order to disperse them without killing them now if they do that they have to shoot the deer.

    Banning Stag Hunting completely could have even worse consequences for the deer population. Red Deer roam as herds across many small holdings. It is essential that a component of the management of the deer is carried out in a coordinated manner with a view to the structure of the whole population. The Hunt with the support of local landowners represents one such system.

    Exmoor and the Quantocks have such fine populations of truly wild Red Deer precisely because they are hunted. The fact that the deer are quarry means that individual landowners are far more tolerant to them and tend to leave their management to the hunt. Non hunted areas of the Westcountry do not have substantial herds.

    Implementing an alternative system of coordinated deer stalking across many holdings would require far ranging and highly controversial legislative changes. If no such system was put into place it is quite possible that the Red Deer population would collapse in the event of a ban on Stag Hunting.

Leave a Reply