The Countryside Alliance (CA) has poured scorn on Labour’s recent “toff-bashing”, anti-hunting election tactics, saying voters are uninterested in hunting in the run-up to the election.

In last month’s Norwich North by-election, Labour issued a leaflet saying: “Vote Labour…or the fox gets it!”.

And in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election in May, Labour Party activists followed Conservative leader David Cameron in top hats and tails on his visits to the constituency.

Both moves were spurned by the Conservative Party, which crushed Labour by taking over 40% of the votes in both seats.

CA spokesman Tim Bonner said: “Some within the Labour Party think it’s a good idea to raise the hunting issue and to portray David Cameron as a foxhunting twit. But we think hunting is irrelevant to voters.”

The CA carried out research in marginal constituencies to gauge hunting’s importance with voters.

“The results confirm it is not an issue — and we will be sharing those results with all parties,” said Mr Bonner. “The majority of voters are interested in public services and the state of the economy — very few people decide their vote on hunting.”

A Labour Party spokesman said the leaflet — one of “numerous” in the Norwich North by-election — was in response to a comment made by Tory candidate Chloe Smith.

When asked if anti-hunting tactics would feature more widely in their pre-election campaign, the spokesman told H&H: “We wouldn’t at this stage go into details of what we will be focusing on for the General Election.”

A Conservative spokesman said: “The class-war tactics that Labour used in both by-elections were desperate stuff.

“It’s no surprise the electorate rejected this approach and there is evidence that such campaigning actually lost the Labour Party support.

“The public are interested in who is the right person and right party to lead Britain; not in narrow class warfare.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (3 September, ’09)