Foxhunting could top a government poll to find England’s greatest cultural icon, despite last February’s ban. Yesterday, fox hunting had risen to first place in the online poll Icons: A Portrait of England, thanks to an e-mail campaign by a pro-foxhunting group Felix the Fox.

Icons: A Portrait of England is a new scheme designed to paint a virtual portrait of the country by exploring the most cherished items of English culture online. It also aims to encourage debate amongst members of the public as to what defines England. The two-year £1 million project has been commissioned by Culture Online, part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

“No-one can fail to respond to some of the icons that feature in this project, whether it’s Stonehenge, the London Eye or the great English cuppa,” said Culture Minister David Lammy.

The directors had drawn up a list of 12 icon suggestions including Stonehenge, the Routemaster bus and the FA Cup as English icons. But it is foxhunting which has provoked the biggest response.

An email from Felix the Fox to 1,000 Fight the Ban supporters, prompted hunt enthusiasts to cast their votes in the Icons Poll. The Countryside Alliance then sent notification of the poll to 40,000 subscribers to its newsletter.

“We only told our readers to visit the site, though I’m not surprised they nominated foxhunting,” said Tim Bonner from the Countryside Alliance.

A spokesman for Culture Online said: “The Icons project was always intended to inspire debate. It’s certainly captured the public imagination including a few lobby groups. Fox hunting has been a crucial debate for quite some time.”


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