Jeremy Hunt has said that he would support a vote on lifting the hunting ban if he became prime minister. But he seemed to change his mind within hours after facing an overwhelming backlash. And it shows just how much the British public hates the pastime.
In an interview with the Telegraph published on 3 July, Tory leadership hopeful Hunt said he would “support a vote in Parliament” on lifting the hunting ban. He justified this by claiming it’s part of “the countryside” and “our heritage”. Furthermore, Hunt stated that he himself would vote to repeal the law. However, he also said that he would wait until “there was a majority in Parliament” before putting forward the vote.
Outgoing prime minister Theresa May tried a similar stunt during the run-up to the 2017 General Election. She backtracked after strong opposition to the idea. May said at the time that there were “clear messages” of ‘concern’ from the public about the plans.
I was just restating the position in our manifesto from 2017 that there should be a free vote if it ever looked like that majority would change. But it would not be my priority as prime minister.
As the Telegraph highlighted, Hunt faced criticism even from fellow Tory MPs. Julian Knight, MP for Solihull, said: “We can’t seriously be talking about this again”. Meanwhile Kevin Foster, MP for Torquay and Paignton, described hunting as “cruel” and said there was “no chance” of it coming back. And BuzzFeed UK reporter Alex Wickham said an anonymous Tory MP described the statement as “political suicide”.
“Out of touch”
Jane Evans of Labour Animal Welfare Society (LAWS) told The Canary that any attempt to repeal the Hunting Act is a “vote loser”:
It shows just out of touch Hunt is with the majority of ordinary people. It’s clear from the outrage shown by people and even his parliamentary colleagues, just how out of touch he is. The Hunting Act should be enforced without fear or favour and strengthened to outlaw trail hunting, and most definitely not repealed.
Hunt and Johnson should take on board the views of over 80% of the population and consign this barbarity to the history books… once and for all. It’s time to strengthen the Hunting Act, so that it can be enforced without fear or favour.
Evans also said Labour’s shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman is “fully committed to strengthening the Hunting Act”. Following Hunt’s comments and the leadership hopeful’s unwillingness to call hunting “cruel”, Hayman publicly stated:
It is incredible and shocking that Jeremy Hunt, who aspires to be the next prime minister, can not bring himself to even acknowledge the barbaric cruelty of fox hunting.
Once again it shows this Tory government’s lack of understanding and sincerity on issues of animal welfare.
Hayman also claimed Labour was “proud” to bring the Hunting Act in. But Tony Blair famously admitted that the hunting ban was his biggest regret, and that he tried to sabotage the law. However, Labour’s last manifesto committed to strengthening the Hunting Act. And leader Jeremy Corbyn shared a petition to protect the ban in the wake of Hunt’s comments.
Give no ground
As The Canary recently reported, Hunt’s leadership rival Boris Johnson is also no friend to the Hunting Act. One of Johnson’s biggest donors is Johan Christofferson, a long-time hunt master who has a history of supporting pro-hunt MPs.
It’s no surprise that the Conservative Party is the home of the hunting fraternity. But the willingness with which its most senior members are willing to back an end to the ban should be a concern to everyone. Saboteurs and monitors are still saving lives and holding hunts accountable more than 15 years after the ban came into force. It’s therefore essential the rest of us don’t give any ground to weakening or repealing the law.
In fact, as Evans said, it’s time that Parliament strengthened the ban to end hunting for good.
- Support the Hunt Saboteurs Association.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?