Hunts get tough in election campaign

  • The campaign to support pro-hunting candidates in the run-up to the general election — on 5 May, the Thursday of Badminton Horse Trials — is gathering pace, and the next three weeks will be crucial.

    Some 250 hunts are involved in assisting candidates in 130-plus marginal seats — mainly doing “legwork” such as stuffing envelopes, delivering leaflets and putting up posters. More than 370,000 leaflets have been delivered; 73,000 envelopes have been hand-addressed and 27,000 envelopes have been stuffed.

    Although volunteers are signing up in droves, some hunts have told subscribers that they will not be welcome to hunt next season unless they put in the time.

    George Bowyer, master of the Fitzwilliam, said that he had no problem getting people involved and has about 80 regularly helping in three constituencies. But he is writing to older subscribers, who may not be prepared to do active campaigning, to get them to help on the day, and would be prepared to tell those who are not pulling their weight that they may not be hunting next season.

    Geoff Peters, joint-master of the Cotswold Vale Farmers, has told his supporters: “If you can find time to hunt, you can find time to campaign. If you can’t make the effort to help get rid of this unjust law then you will not be welcome to hunt next season.”

    The website for Vote-OK, the organisation set up by Charles and Chipps Mann to
    co-ordinate help for pro-hunting candidates, is now up and running, with information about how to become involved, details of the campaign and links to numerous election-related websites. To find out more, visit: www.vote-ok.co.uk or (tel: 01367 850496).

    Voters who are at Badminton on polling day can register for postal vote, but must have returned a completed application form by 26 April (14 April in Northern Ireland).

    For information about voting, including applying for a postal or proxy vote, contact the Electoral Commission (tel: 08003 280280) or Northern Ireland (tel: 08000 323700) or visit: www.aboutmyvote.co.uk

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (14 April ’05)

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