George Bowyer: 12 hours to save hunting [H&H VIP]

There are 34 days until the general election.

Vote-OK, the countryside campaigning organisation, is asking all hunt supporters to devote just 12 hours to active political campaigning for candidates who support our rural way of life.

We now need to look to the future, but the future under a hostile government after May 2015 would look bleak indeed. Along with oft-repeated threats to maintain or even strengthen the Hunting Act, the Labour Party has also declared war on other rural activities, with its latest pronouncements about “cruelty on shooting estates”.

The Campaign to Strengthen the Hunting Act certainly wants Labour to do more.

This would include imposing a six-month prison sentence as a penalty for an offence under the Hunting Act, introducing a new offence of “reckless hunting” — which would penalise anyone whose dogs hunted a mammal accidentally — and finally making it an offence to lay a trail anywhere “where wild mammals are likely to be found”.

The lack of understanding of how animals and the countryside work that is demonstrated in these proposals is stunning.

And for those who talk about sticking with the current status quo, consider this: under a Conservative administration, the current status quo will be the floor, the base level from which things might improve. Under a Labour administration, the current status quo will be the ceiling, from which we dangle precariously by our fingertips.

‘Don’t just complain — campaign!’

You may feel that the ban has not affected your life very much — but none of us should sit back and say “I’m alright, Jack. It doesn’t affect me”.

Do you want to retain a law passed to discriminate against people who hunt, or would you prefer to get rid of it and replace it with something that actually improves animal welfare and wildlife management?

The outcome of this general election is going to be crucial to the future, not just of hunting but many other countryside issues. Rural people often complain that the government is too urban-centric. One of the mottos of Vote-OK is: “Don’t just complain — campaign!”

We all have the opportunity to set to work and help choose who will be making the laws that protect and preserve our countryside. We owe it to ourselves, our children and the countryside itself, to make sure that we pick people who actually understand the countryside and how it works.

So what can you do to help?

The answer: get involved in the political process. Don’t just vote — although that is crucial — but make sure that you are registered and get a postal vote if you will not be able to vote locally on 7 May.

So get out and engage in the political campaign. All candidates need volunteers to deliver leaflets, put up posters, stuff envelopes, make telephone calls and many other things.

If you are in contact with your local hunt, they can advise you of a local constituency where your help might make a difference, or you can look at the website of Vote-OK (www.vote-ok.co.uk) and volunteer. Don’t just sit back and wait to be asked. There isn’t enough time for that. Be proactive — contact them and ask how you can help.

Twelve hours to save hunting, the same as two days’ hunting: can you afford not to make that investment?

Ref: Horse & Hound; 2 April 2015