The hunters’ tactics

This week’s note from Douglas Batchelor, Chief Executive

In a democracy one of the key ingredients of due and fair process is the freedom, and of course, the reliability of the information provided to both the voters and to the politicians who seek their votes.

It has been a constant feature of the campaign to end the cruelty of hunting that the hunters have consistently sought to misinform both the public and the political process. Over the years the misinformation and downright false claims that have been made public have been exposed for what they are and the record put straight. But now we have a more sinister development taking place; the behind the scenes campaigning tactics of the pro cruelty lobby.

Tactic number one: Shoot the messenger
Shooting the messenger takes many forms, from; they are all animal rights activists, to he or she has a criminal record and or is a paedophile, through to that information has been got illegally and can’t be used. Rather than address the issue of hunting or shooting, the first move by the accused is to attack the methods and the motivations of the person who has tried to film their activities. It is as if the crime can be made to disappear by rubbishing the witness.

Tactic number two: Tell a bare faced lie
There are people in the hunting fraternity who are prepared to lie under oath and to claim that the witnesses to the crime are in effect making false statements and that what they allege did not happen or was not seen by other people who were present.

Tactic number three: Intimidate the witness
There are people associated with the hunts who make it as clear as they can to witnesses, that it would not be a good idea to upset them, or violence will follow. This can take the form of verbal aggression, physical aggression and threats to visit them at home. “We know where you live!”

Tactic number four: Make a false claim to the police
The latest wheeze by some hunters is to get an early call in to the police to claim that their lawful activity is being disrupted by hunt saboteurs. They claim that children are being verbally abused and hunt followers and supporters are being stalked by vigilantes. The police are getting used to this particular tactic, but nonetheless are obliged to take such claims seriously until they are proven incorrect.

Tactic number five: Seek to mislead the police and would be law abiding followers
At the start of the day some hunt masters and huntsmen announce that their intention is to follow an artificial scent and to obey the law. This claim is made despite their knowing that arrangements have been made with terrier men to bolt foxes for hunting, and or that no trail has been laid, or that the trail is deliberately laid where there is the greatest likelihood of supposedly accidentally finding a fox.

Tactic number six: Claim harassment
They’ll write to the Chief Constable claiming legal hunters are being harassed by vigilantes and animal rights activists, and seeking police protection for the local hunt from any who seek to monitor their activities. The letters are usually signed by a well known name, either locally or nationally, so that the Chief Constable is bound to read them. The letters also seek to provide information which puts the known monitors in the worst possible light so that the police will be less inclined to believe any claims they may make.

Tactic number seven: Spread the rumours in the press
Write to the media controllers saying that country sports do not get enough coverage and that they should get more because they allegedly are a core part of rural life. This claim is widely accepted by media controllers who wrongly assume that the countryside actually supports bloodsports, despite the polling evidence that the vast majority do not.

Tactic number eight: Criticise the polling
Claim that any poll which produces evidence of public support for the ban on cruelty to animals for sport is supported by the public, is a flawed poll. Despite the fact that poll after poll by nationally and internationally respected pollsters shows support for the Hunting Act and opposition to repeal, the bloodsports lobby continue to claim that the polls are not right and do not indicate the true public view.

Tactic number nine: Write to the press
Write to papers claiming to be the true voice of the countryside and intimating that the countryside wants and needs wild mammal hunting for sport as a method of pest control. The assertion is constantly made in the press that the countryside wants hunting. No polling evidence is produced to support the claim and the fox, hare and deer are demonised as pests needing to be chased around and killed by hunters because of the awful damage that they supposedly do to chickens, lambs, crops and trees.

Tactic number ten: Write to politicians
Write to politicians claiming that the number of people who support the ban on hunting for sport is a tiny minority of the population and that their views can be safely disregarded because there are so few of them.

The bloodsports apologists fly in the face of the facts when they claim that there are not many people who care. Opposition to hunting for sport has been at over 80% for the last twenty five years. Since the passage into law of the Hunting Act 2004, support for the ban on hunting for sport has actually increased.

The suggestion that voter preferences with regard to animal welfare can be disregarded is disingenuous to say the least. While research tells us that most votes are usually determined by the big ticket issues, there is also clear evidence of other issues being relevant when it comes to two quite separate voter choices. The first being whether or not to vote at all and the second being who to vote for. Issues like animal welfare and hunting according to the research certainly affect turnout. If the hunters believe that they are irrelevant in election terms, why are they working so hard for Vote-OK and why are they telling election candidates that the votes of those opposed to hunting don’t matter and can be disregarded?

Finally it is worth remembering that some of the people who abuse animals for sport and some who support such abuse, are prepared to lie and to cheat and to commit crimes in order to bring back hunting. Make sure you know where the local politicians really stand with regard to hunting for sport. Take nothing on trust. You need to get a firm and public commitment from them to Keep Cruelty History.

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