Richard Gurney: ‘We may have won, but we still need to sink the putt’ [H&H VIP]

  • Some of you may have read my online column written on the Wednesday before the general election. If you did, you’ll know I predicted a Conservative win but with a small majority. Not bad for a Master of Foxhounds (MFH) residing south of the Thames.

    Well, even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day.

    I watched the results in New York. It was an ostracising feeling to be in America and so far away when the incredible news was delivered — Clegg resigns; Miliband resigns; Farage resigns (but he remains UKIP leader after the party rejected his resignation); Hughes loses seat. And my personal highlight, Balls loses his seat.

    When I started in the Pony Club in the early 1970s, a blue rosette meant you’d finished in second place. In politics in 2015, it signifies winner and a winner against all the odds. I have had so many side bets with friends and others over the past year, I have lost track but I am looking forward to remembering them all and collecting soon.

    So how did it happen?

    Vote-OK and all those masterminding their strategy deserve all the praise they will receive in the coming weeks. They were set a Herculean task and they prevailed.

    Our own target seat was Sutton and Cheam where Paul Scully, the Conservative candidate, was duly elected. That is three general elections in a row where the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent have focused on a marginal seat and been asked to “go and help where you can”. That now makes it three wins from three.

    I’m sure many other packs of hounds may have put in more man hours than we did, and now is the time to thank and congratulate them all for their efforts.

    But there should be no gloating or crowing from the hunting community, just relief that a light at the end of a very dark and very long tunnel has at last come in to view. Let’s be honest, we are weary and we may have won, but we still need to sink the putt.

    Doing us proud

    I do not know what happens now — I will leave that to the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) and others. We must trust them to do the right thing. If those who represent us can, they will right the wrong that is the Hunting Act 2004 in whatever form that takes.

    It will play out in the next few months as all things do in politics, but what is for sure is that those who did so much from our community to secure this once-in-a-lifetime result for the Conservative party should be proud of themselves, as should all those who helped them.

    In the next few days and weeks, you may see many people beating a path to No 10 Downing Street, but few have as much right as the hunting community does to walk that particular walk.

    As I said last Wednesday, “I left Great Britain in the drizzle and the wind” with a feeling of impending gloom that my generation may well have to preside over the end of hunting as we knew it. But I was certain I would be landing yesterday (Wednesday 13 May) in the sun with plenty of blue sky on show, whatever the weather.

    They say a week is a long time in politics…

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 21 May 2015