Lib Dems and repeal of the Hunting Act

At the last Liberal Democrat Party Conference, in September, Nick Clegg told us in person that repeal of the Hunting Act “is not on the Liberal Democrat agenda”, and we were greatly encouraged by that. But we told him then, and have told senior Party figures since, that they should have a clear statement to that effect.

The Ipsos-MORI polling commissioned by the League and IFAW last September confirmed once again that Liberal Democrat supporters overwhelmingly back the hunting ban. In fact, 77% support the ban on fox hunting, 93% on stag hunting, and 92% on hare hunting and hare coursing.

We have broad support from a good number of Liberal Democrat parliamentarians, including Adrian Sanders and Paul Holmes, and yet despite this, the Party seems afraid of committing itself to keep cruelty history. Some would argue that this is down to the presence of Lembit Öpik, chair of the ‘Middle Way Group’ of parliamentarians who want to see licensed hunting. But even Lembit says that, deep down, he doesn’t really care about hunting. For him it’s an issue of liberty and it doesn’t sit well with his libertarian instincts.

We’d say that libertarianism – which is a strong undercurrent in the Liberal Democrat party – doesn’t include the liberty to be cruel. After all, libertarian instinct would have prevented the outlawing of badger baiting and dog fighting.

It’s disappointing that, despite the issue being discussed amongst delegates at the Liberal Democrat spring conference in Birmingham over the weekend, there was still no commitment either way. It’s disappointing.

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