On Boxing Day, Owen Patterson, the Conservative Government Minister, stated that there would not be a vote to repeal the Hunting Act in 2013. He admitted this was because they knew they would lose. This worried me greatly. Others seemed really pleased, punching the air in triumph.
It gives me no pleasure to say I told you so.
In a recent interview Patterson confirmed my worst fears. Hunting lobbyists, pro hunt MP's, with the active encouragement of a Government Minister and the Prime Minister, are ramping up their behind the scenes campaigning with the aim of winning a vote to repeal the Hunting Act.
This is a very dangerous time. All this will go on behind closed doors. In the corridors, tearooms and bars of the House of Commons, MP’s will be nobbled by the pro-hunt lobby. Every tactic in the book will be used to persuade, encourage and possibly coerce MP’s to change their mind. If they are anti-hunt they will be “encouraged” to sit on their hands or not turn up for a vote. If they have not made their mind up yet, they will be “persuaded” to vote for repeal of the Act.
In the constituencies of these targeted MP’s, organisations like the Countryside Alliance will be trying to put pressure on MP’s to declare in their favour.
Whilst alarming, this isn’t a time for panic, but, neither is it a time for complacency.
Everything is on our side as long as we don’t sit back and leave the goal open to this vociferous minority.
• The majority of the public doesn’t want to see hunting with dogs legal again
• The majority of MP’s still support us – if a vote was called today, we would win
• A lot of high profile individuals support us
• Hunters’ arguments are weak and ours strong
• History and time is on our side; in the next few weeks it will be the 8th anniversary of the Hunting Act
• The Act works. There have been more prosecutions and a higher conviction rate than other wildlife legislation
• We have even more prosecutions of hunters in the pipeline
And don’t forget, the League is stronger than ever. Just as they will be active in Parliament, so will we. But mostly, what the hunters don’t like is a spotlight shining on their shenanigans. Whether it’s illegal hunting, arm twisting MP’s, promoting their pompous propaganda or lobbying government behind the scenes, together we will be there fighting for our wildlife. And we are not alone. Working with our supporters and with sister organisations, like the RSPCA, IFAW and POWA, we will Keep Cruelty History.