Archive for October, 2009

Major report into wildlife crime – tomorrow’s Independent on Sunday

 

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Tomorrow's Independent on Sunday

 

 

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Shhh! Don’t tell anyone that I support hunting!

Earlier this week, and as part of our Keep Cruelty History campaign, the League sent an email to tens of thousands of its supporters, asking them to contact the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates in their constituency to establish their opinion on repeal of the Hunting Act.

So far the response has been very promising and the responses have been flowing thick and fast. A vast majority of Labour candidates are promising to vote against repeal, as are a significant majority of Liberal Democrat candidates. And whilst not a majority, a good number of Conservative candidates are promising to vote against repeal.

But the most interesting thing is the number of pro-repeal candidates who are very vocal about the issue when they are speaking to the right audience, but who say absolutely nothing about it to the rest of their constituents. Take Louise Bagshawe, for example, the Conservative candidate for Corby in Northamptonshire.

Louise first came to our attention when she popped up on the website of ‘Vote-OK’, an organisation created to support pro-repeal candidates but which wants to avoid talking about hunting, and hence its pretty lame name. If you visit the website, you’ll find film of a very breathless Louise explaining why she wants the support of Vote-OK in her constituency and how she backs the campaign for repeal of the Hunting Act.

She then popped up on the Westminster Hour over the summer, and today said via Twitter that she “Will be meeting hunt activists tonight. Yes Labour, we will repeal the hunting ban on a free vote. Stuff your authoritarianism”. That then sparked a debate amongst some of her followers on Twitter, prompting her to publish other tweets including: “Not a big deal to repeal the Hunting Act; simple free vote in govt bill. Sadly, much bigger deal to undo the rest of Labour’s damage” and “Now off to Brigstock to meet members of one of the many local Northants hunts. I’ll be sure to pass on how Labour despises them!”, before descending into personal insult with the following message to one twitterer: “you stick to Soho. I think you’ll get a rash if you venture into the country”

This evening we visited Louise’s website, and searched for the word ‘hunting’. The result? “Your search yielded no results.”

Funny that.

Louise claims – in another post on Twitter – that her party, “…it’s a simple repeal. you won’t find Tory literature concentrating on it”. And that’s the point. You won’t find Tory literature concentrating on it – or literature from any pro-repeal candidate of any party – because they are running scared from the massive public opinion that remains very firmly in support of the ban, and the 59% of the public who, according to YouGov, would consider changing their vote if their chosen candidate was pro-hunt.

After all, we’ve just done the same search – for ‘hunting’ – on Simon Hart’s website. He’s a candidate in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire in Wales, but crucially he’s also the Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance; so if anyone’s mentioning hunting it should be him. But what was the result of the search? Nothing. Click here and see for yourself.

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Another Gray day at the Telegraph

Yesterday afternoon our press office took a call from Louise Gray, the environment correspondent at The Daily Telegraph. About twenty minutes into the conversation, Gray seemed genuinely surprised when we said that we didn’t want the Hunting Act to be repealed. “But it doesn’t work,” she said.

Then today’s edition of that paper – the house journal for the bloodsports community – contains a story that League hunt observers are planning to “disrupt” hunts. We’re not. And Louise has got terribly confused and has called us Saboteurs (we’re not) and animal rights activists (we’re not).

Private Eye are frequently reporting that the Telegraph is considering cutbacks to save costs. The League would be happy to suggest one ‘cutback’ which would not only save them money but probably lead to some accurate journalism – for a change.

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A thousand days to the Olympics

The 2012 Olympic Games open in London in a thousand days’ time.

A great deal will happen in the time from now until the opening ceremony, but one thing is for sure. Hunting will remain a key issue probably right up to and beyond the Olympics. And as hunts gather around the country for their opening meets today and tomorrow, it makes you think: if hunting is such a fantastic, wholesome, enjoyable and important sport, why don’t we make it an Olympic sport?

The fox could run around the athletics track pursued by the hounds. Hares could be coursed by greyhounds. Stags could be chased across the Epping Forest in some delightful spectacle of English ‘sport’.

Why not?

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Last hunting season under the ban? Err, no.


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Earlier today, a hunter responded to public opinion.

The Countryside Alliance have put out their press release for the start of the traditional hunting season and, true to style, it claims that this “could be the last season under the Hunting Act”.

In the sense that this could be the last Friday before the end of the world, they’re right. Lots of things ‘could’ be. What’s clear from the media interest in the start of this season is that the Countryside Alliance have been successful in spinning a line – mainly to their own members – that repeal of the Hunting Act is “within reach”.

We frequently liken this to the liar who tells the same lie so many times that he begins to believe it himself. The hunters are sticking their fingers in their ears and ignoring the facts as they’re presented to them. They’ve swallowed the Alliance line that bloodsports will be legal again next year.

We’ve published our polling figures on this blog often enough and won’t labour the point. The key issue is that the Alliance’s response to our polling – by leading international pollsters Ipsos-MORI – is always to claim that the answers always depend on asking a skewed question. Their spokesman did it in a radio interview against our Head of Campaigns only this morning. The question asked in our most recent poll was Please tell me whether you think [fox hunting] should or should not be made legal again. Is that skewed? We think not.

The polling figures make it very clear that there is no majority appetite for repeal of the Hunting Act in any part of Britain, in any social group, or amongst supporters of any political party. The hunters, though, tell us that there’s public support for repeal. There simply is not.

Finally, a word of warning for those hunters out there who are following the Countryside Alliance’s final tweet of the week, and who plan to “have fun at opening meets”. If that fun includes terrorising wildlife, be aware. Our Hunt Observers are better equipped and better trained than ever before, and the net is closing in on you.

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Oh do shut up, Clarissa.

The Guardian published an utterly hilarious interview with convicted hare courser Clarissa Dickson-Wright yesterday. She makes some claims that are so patently ridiculous we think she should turn her attention to writing comedy fiction rather than autobiographical twaddle. Let us debunk some of CDW’s bluster.

CDW: “I pleaded guilty [to hare coursing] to a technicality.”

Hmm. A technicality? How technical do you want the Hunting Act to be? Hare coursing and attendance at a hare coursing event is illegal. Quite simple … and given that CDW is a barrister, it should be very simple.

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Another 'fake' photo.

CDW: “The photos are all fakes.”

Ah yes. Of course they are. Because Photoshop existed when our library of fakes was built up over the last eighty years. Get real, Clarissa: no-one believes you.

CDW: “The hare gets away 95% of the time.”

Even if it were true, the 5% kill rate would still be unacceptable. It would be inflicting death on an animal for ‘sport’. But it’s not true, and we have endless film and photographic evidence to show that the hare dies at almost every event.

CDW: Asked if she was sorry for breaking the law: “No, I don’t regret doing it in the least. We had legal advice, which turned out to be wrong…”

The arrogance of this woman is startling. She has no regret for breaking the law of the land, and then excuses it by saying that someone said it was ok. What sort of barrister was she, exactly?

CDW: Looking forward to a Conservative government because “David Cameron understands the countryside”.

Does he? If he does, why is he ignoring the 72% of the rural public who don’t want to see a return to fox hunting?

She also mentions the death threats she receives from animal rights protesters. That’s something the League would never condone, and we’d recommend she reports all such instances to the police. After all, we wouldn’t hesitate to report her to the police if she’s caught illegally hare coursing again.

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In the Commons yesterday … hunting

From Hansard.

David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): Has the Secretary of State seen the League Against Cruel Sports large-scale survey indicating that 62 per cent. of Conservative voters, 77 per cent. of Liberal Democrat voters and 83 per cent. of Labour voters strongly support the existing legislative ban on hunting with dogs? Does he intend to review the legislation in light of the survey?

Hilary Benn (Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs): I have indeed seen the information to which my hon. Friend refers, and it shows where public sentiment and opinion lie. In the light of that, I find it very hard to understand why Opposition Members want to change the law so that foxes can once again be ripped to pieces by hounds, because that is the change in the law they appear to be seeking.

Charlotte Atkins (Staffordshire, Moorlands) (Lab): Could the Secretary of State give the House an update on the implementation of the ban on hunting with dogs, and particularly on the impact on rural employment?

Hilary Benn: I am not aware of a study having been done on that. We should be aware, however, that when the ban was voted on a lot of predictions were made about the consequences that would flow, but they have not flowed, which is why I do not agree with those who say the legislation is flawed. The onus is on those who want to revisit it to explain why they want to return to a practice that most people do not approve of, as is shown by the evidence that my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Leicestershire (David Taylor) has just drawn to the House’s attention.

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