“Cruel and elitist”: Campaigners damn May’s support for fox hunting return

Nathanael Williams

Outrage as Theresa May promised MPs the chance to repeal the 12 year ban on foxhunting 

UK PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY has been condemned for her statements yesterday (Tuesday 9 May) in favour of overturning the ban on fox hunting brought into law in 2004.

Campaign groups opposed to fox hunting called the prime minister’s support for fox hunting “cruel” and “elite” stating that they would oppose a reintroduction of the blood sport.

May had said that she would offer a free vote to repeal the ban in the Tory manifesto and had been “always in favour of foxhunting”, following claims by Tory Lords that a majority of 50 after the General Election on June 8 would be enough to overturn the 2004 Hunting Act.

A ban on hunting foxes and other wild mammals with dogs in England and Wales was introduced under Labour in 2004, becoming law the following year. Anti-hunting groups maintain that most voters support it.

“Are we really going to turn the clock back to a time when killing animals for fun was legal?” Eduardo Goncalves

The hunting of foxes with hounds was banned in Scotland under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, which was passed in 2002. However, there are not thought to have been any successful fox hunting prosecutions since the ban was introduced.

During a campaign trail visit to a Leeds factory, the PM said: “This is a situation on which individuals will have one view or the other, either pro or against. As it happens, personally I have always been in favour of foxhunting, and we maintain our commitment . . . to allow a free vote. It would allow parliament the opportunity to take the decision on this.”

But campaign groups such as The League Against Cruel Sports accused the prime minister of elitism.

Eduardo Goncalves, director of the charity, said: “Britain’s voters have been waiting to hear what the next government will be doing on key issues like the NHS, education and Brexit. It’s a shame that Parliamentary time will be spent on trying to make fox hunting legal again. 84 per cent of the public – and 72 per cent of Conservative voters – want fox hunting to remain illegal.

“It’s a shame that Parliamentary time will be spent on trying to make fox hunting legal again.” Eduardo Goncalves

“This smacks of a small minority with a cruel hobby wielding an inappropriately large influence over the people in charge. It’s cruel and elitist. Are we really going to turn the clock back to a time when killing animals for fun was legal?”

May voted against the New Labour ban in 2004 and in 2009 rejected suggestions from critics that she had shown a “love of cruelty” replying that in her view “it’s about a method of actually keeping fox numbers down.”

The pro-hunting MPs in the UK Tory Government include the environment secretary Andrea Leadsom, who is responsible for the enforcement of the Hunting Act.

Groups such as the Hunt Saboteurs Association who campaign to, in their words, “tighten up any loopholes in the current law” have encouraged the Scottish Government to dedicate more resources to making sure more illegal hunts are prosecuted in Scotland. Hunting groups in Scotland are permitted but they are not allowed to actively engage in lethal activity or fox runs.

The Scottish Tories and their leader Ruth Davidson have stayed silent on the topic and did not reply within time of publication.

Picture courtesy of Jarkko Jarvine

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