Theresa May’s Conservative Party made numerous bad judgments in the lead-up to the general election. One of them was including a pledge to revisit the fox hunting ban in its manifesto. That promise was a massive turn-off for over 80% of the British public.
But now, we know who exactly came up with this massively unpopular idea. It was May herself. In fact, she reportedly [paywall] fought to get the pledge in the manifesto against the advice of her cabinet.
The Conservatives pledged to allow a free vote on fox hunting in parliament in the lead-up to the 2017 general election. The party pledged to allow the same in the 2010 and 2015 elections but, lacking a large majority, decided against going ahead with the vote.
According to The Times, then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Andrea Leadsom didn’t want the promise included in the 2017 manifesto. But May apparently put her foot down. A ministerial source told [paywall] The Times:
Andrea wanted May not to repeat the promise to allow parliamentary time for a ban on hunting but she was overruled…
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And an “ally” of May explained [paywall] why the Prime Minister took that stance:
It was one of the first things that was decided because it was such a toxic issue. [She] just felt that she couldn’t do anything other than continue with it because she had been previously supportive.
The pledge has now essentially fallen by the wayside; because the Conservatives scraped through the election without a majority and would struggle to win a vote if they chose to hold one. That’s seemingly not a welcome outcome, however, for the Countryside Alliance. Chief Executive Tim Bonner believes [paywall] politicians who oppose practices like fox hunting are just misguidedly searching for “electoral nirvana”.
But as May’s miscalculation proves, Bonner is wrong. An anti-fox hunting stance isn’t an “electoral nirvana”, it’s an electoral reality. The vast majority of people in the UK are against the practice. And even pro-hunting politicians like Leadsom saw that it would be electorally damaging to attempt to repeal the current ban.
May didn’t see that, though. And why not? Because she had “been previously supportive”, apparently. Holding fast to that position may have pleased people like Bonner. But it went down like a lead balloon with the public.
And that’s not surprising. Because the British public may approve of politicians standing firm on a matter of principle. But when the principle involves a vulnerable animal being torn to shreds, few people are likely to applaud. Just as May’s cabinet apparently tried in vain to tell her.
– Find out what you can do to stop the killing of foxes and other animals with the League Against Cruel Sports.
– Support the Hunt Saboteurs Association.
Featured image via EU2017EE Estonian Presidency/Flickr
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