Time is running out for the Conservative high command to repay the rural community for its efforts in 2010, was the warning delivered to the Government at the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) AGM on 4 June.
Chairman Stephen Lambert told masters that “something positive needs to happen — and very soon”.
Mr Lambert was referring to the frustration felt by hunting people at a lack of tangible progress in Westminster. He reminded politicians that “the hunting world mobilises on the streets for one reason alone: to return a Government that will achieve repeal”.
But Mr Lambert also conveyed a message of commitment to hunting’s cause from Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and reminded members that hunting has more allies in Westminster than ever before.
His sentiments were echoed by Countryside Alliance (CA) executive chairman General Sir Barney White-Spunner, who reiterated that repeal remains integral to CA policy.
Mr Lambert congratulated masters’ efforts to record evidence of legal hunting on an ongoing basis throughout the season. And he commended members for their “courage, resilience, determination and sheer hard work” in difficult circumstances.
Despite a huge increase in surveillance, there has been no increase in prosecutions, he told masters. The Heythrop case (news, 20 December 2012) was an exception, but the RSPCA and its chief executive Gavin Grant sustained damaging publicity as a consequence.
Sir Barney also praised the vigilance of the hunting community and expressed hope that the RSPCA would revert to being “an animal welfare charity, rather than an animal rights organisation”.
Mr Lambert revealed that a review group set up to examine the future role of the MFHA recommend minor changes, but endorsed the current system. Mr Lambert will be replaced as chairman in June 2014 by former MFH and hereditary peer Lord Mancroft, commended as a passionate hunting man, skilled tactician and a charismatic leader.
- This news story was first published in H&H magazine, 13 June 2013 issue