John Jackson and Simon Hart have outlined the Countryside Alliance’s plans for the coming months in anticipation of the Speaker invoking the Parliament Act today.
John Jackson said there will be three main ways the CA, and its members, will challenge the ban:
- A political challenge
- Two legal challenges
- The practical element
The political challenge will consist of the alliance encouraging all citizens, not just rural dwellers, to show their disgust for legislation based on prejudice by using their votes at the next election. He said he expects many people would rather have the majority of the members of the House of Commons value liberty than prejudice. The alliance has already vowed to target anti-hunting Labour MPs in minority seats.
A legal challenge is set to go into motion as soon as the Parliament Act is invoked, and this is a challenge to the validity the Parliament Act, which was passed in 1949. The Alliance is going to argue that it was passed unlawfully, and if the challenge gets accepted this could provoke one of the greatest constitutional crises this country has seen. This case, interestingly, would likely end up in the House of Lords, in its capacity as highest court in the land.
A second legal challenge is also due to be launched, should this fail, on the grounds that the Hunting Act contravenes the Human Rights Act.
The third element involves members of the alliance, and people living in the countryside refusing to cooperate with certain government departments. For instance this might mean landowners refusing to let the Ministry of Defence continue to conduct tests on their land.
This tactic is known as “passive non-cooperation” and involves action within the law to make people’s feelings known.
However, Mr Jackson also commented that civil disobedience is on the horizon: “We have tried, and the House of Lords has tried to find a rational solution to this, but the government has refused to listen.
“Breaking the law is wrong, but civil rights leaders have said for years that if there is an unfair law, then it is proper for the individual to draw attention to this unfairness by breaking it, and then coming forward to accept their punishment.”
He said the country must expect a vigorous reaction from the hunting community, should the Parliament Act be used tomorrow, and indicated that the alliance and its supporters are very far from backing down on this issue.
This is supported by the findings of our current survey (right), in which 60% of Horse & Hound Online users say they are prepared to risk going to prison by continuing to hunt if a ban is put in place.