A bad week for hunting

Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the Hunting Act coming into force. A great deal of preparation at the League paid off as we reaped a great deal of coverage across the media spectrum.

Of course, our success means the failure of the hunters and their mouthpiece, the Countryside Alliance. Several times yesterday they trotted out their spurious arguments that the Act doesn’t work (it does; hunters are criminals); there have been only 3 convictions (there have been almost 120); more foxes are being killed than before (no evidence of that); it is illiberal and a breach of civil liberties (a civil liberty to be cruel? Oh please); and that it was a class war.

The problem with their class war argument is that it fails to stack up, even more than their other arguments. The majority of people convicted under the Hunting Act are hare coursers and ‘lads with dogs’. They aren’t “toffs on horseback”. So if it was a class war, then it was a failure for us, surely? This utterly stumped one of the Alliance’s regional spokespeople in a radio interview last night.

Another spokesperson told us that we are townies. We’re based in rural Surrey; they’re in Central London. The League spokesman they were speaking to lives in the rural South West. They said we are “animal rights extremists”, despite that spokesman being a meat eater, keeping livestock and wearing leather. They are so stuck for arguments that they resort to this sort of desperate invective.

The press coverage was impressive, with two slots on the BBC’s Today programme, and key features in The Guardian, the Western Morning News, on various blogs and websites, and good coverage of League patron Paul McCartney backing the hunting ban. We did over thirty interviews over the course of the day, and our Celebrity Shock film was broadcast on a number of different news programmes and websites.

We know that the hunters are sore from the way in which their Chief Executive wrote in his weekly email that the League’s “contribution to the anniversary is an [sic] film advert featuring a handful of not very well known people watching a film that you cannot see”.

Hmm. Colin Baker, one of the most popular Dr Who actors ever – not very well known? Annette Crosbie, married to Victor Meldrew in one of Britain’s most successful sitcoms ever – not very well known? Bill Oddie, every child’s favourite nature presenter – not very well known? Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and new darling of the Daily Mail – not very well known? Gemma Atkinson, Hollyoaks star and stage actress – not very well known? Oh come on, last week Gemma only had to walk down the street (wearing one of our t-shirts, incidentally) to end up in the papers. The only thing that’s not very well known is why on earth these people continue to promote archaic activities where live animals are torn to shreds for fun.

Perhaps it’s just sour grapes because the best they can do for a celebrity is Clarissa ‘fat lady’ Dickson Wright and Otis ‘tortured for his beliefs’ Ferry.

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