Dear Mum and Dad,
I hope this finds you well. I am sorry to say but fighting has now intensified and increases week on week. This past weekend was the 12th anniversary of the new beginning and the Hunting Act of 2004 — the reason why we are here.
As the years rush by, it seems like only yesterday that we were witnessing the most unjust law ever passed and driven through the political process. The biggest peacetime demonstration in London, with over 400,000 of us marching to be heard, had no effect on their bigoted politics. You will remember the 700 hours of parliamentary time, the Lord Burns report they ignored, and, just when it looked like we had won the argument peacefully, and against his own better judgement, Prime Minister Blair evoked the Parliamentary Act. Only seven bills have become acts under this procedure in our country’s history.
So here I am 12 years on from that most illiberal of acts going into law. Casualties remain light, with no prosecutions under the act since 2015. We still weep witnessing a professional huntsman “going over the top” as they are usually replaced by enthusiastic amateurs who do not know what it was like before the war began.
In the north, our comrades and allies carry on with fighting kept to a minimum. It is down here in the south, and the south-east in particular, that sees the worst of it. Our trench is under relentless targeting from the enemy.
They are now employing new dirty tricks, which include social media trolling, and emailing and telephoning horrible threats to venues that support our cause. We suffer intimidation, harassment, aggravated trespass, verbal abuse, stalking — they appear outside our trench every Saturday and stalk our platoon — and we feel humiliated. It appears little can be done to stop it.
As you know, since the ban we have led the way regarding hunting within the law. We soon accepted that the only way forward was for us to simulate a day’s hunting as it used to be for our members and supporters to enjoy. We are, after all, in the entertainment business. So we indulge in a lawful activity whereby we lay trails across open country, in woodland and in hedgerows and ditches, all on land we have been invited to cross.
But our opponents continue to ignore the rules of engagement and monitor us not from public highways or footpaths but by trespassing and ignoring the law. They are camouflaged so their identities remain hidden; they are ashamed of their way of fighting this war. We, conversely, wear our red coats and uniforms with the utmost pride.
This is a bloody war on the front line and our spirits can dip when comrades in other parts of the country say, “stop the fighting and let the act remain”. We can’t do that and we will never give in. We will continue to fight with our last breath for what we in our community believe in and know is right.
It is estimated that the enemy spent £30m on pushing through the Hunting Act, and they have spent £0 on proving that it has had any benefit at all. The reason for that, of course, is that it has in fact been a total waste of police time, the courts’ time and public money — and not one fox is better off as a result of it.
We see no signal from our leaders that anything will change soon and so we fight on. And what, I hear you say, from the glorious leader that was Tony Blair? “On balance I feel that we shouldn’t have banned it,” he has admitted.
We will continue on and absorb and deflect any attacks on our comrades in the shooting, fishing and racing worlds as we have for decades now.
Some good news to end with: I have some well-deserved leave coming up in March and can’t wait to see you all. Looking forward to some fruit cake, tea and whisky mac — we don’t get much of that on the front line!
RG, MFH, OSB&WKH
Ref: Horse & Hound; 2 March 2017