As we let out a collective sigh at the impending general election, let’s look at it this way. It should be an opportunity we embrace, one last time, to help us find a resolution to the unworkable Hunting Act, and it can bring much-needed change to our community. It really can. At least the prime minister has been good enough to make it a five-furlong sprint and not a three-mile chase.
There are many problems facing our country, and hunting, for most, will be very low down on the list. However, it is important to us and we have been relentless in our support of the Conservatives for decades now, helping the grassroots of the party by leafleting, canvassing and telephoning. Alien and uncomfortable for most of us, but we did this because the Conservatives were the only party prepared to offer a free vote on hunting in Parliament.
David Cameron’s 2015 election, Brexit and Mr Trump should have persuaded us that the polls are in disarray and do not get it right and that predictions are dangerous. Well, who cares? I predict that the Conservatives will increase their majority to between 65 and 95, thereby giving Mrs May the mandate she requires to negotiate our withdrawal from the EU.
A 65-95 majority would mean the government are no longer held to ransom by the SNP and that most devious of fish, Ms Sturgeon. Thankfully, she can only reduce her majority in Scotland because she won all the seats last time around. Since cynically blocking the government’s attempt to hold a free vote on amending the Hunting Act two years ago, her party don’t seem to have come forward with any evidence or research to suggest that the act should not be amended. So why did they block it?
Our community will be asked to help the Conservatives once more because — be certain of one thing — nothing is certain in politics today. They will want to ensure they win this election and win it by a distance, and nothing will be left to chance.
Starting with repeal
Therefore let us put everything we have in to it.
But this time we do so with one proviso: our community will not be available for future elections, unless this one brings about a resolution to the most illiberal act ever passed in our Parliament — the Hunting Act of 2004.
What is that resolution? Repeal must be the starting point and our goal, but my own personal view is that hunting under licence overseen by an independent body is a workable way forward. If this was set up correctly, it would put a stop to wasting police time and resources, the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts’ time and resources and we will have secured hunting’s immediate future back in its rightful place alongside shooting and fishing.
To the government we appeal. We will help you, we are not threatening you with ultimatums, but we as a community have grown weary and elections are not our natural arena of life.
So we will fight once more for an outcome where you can govern this country for five more years at a very important time in our history, but then you must deliver on your promise to us and set about resolving the hunting issue once and for all. Let’s be honest, with a large majority you can do that.
Ref Horse & Hound; 4 May 2017