Looking back on 2017 - looking forward to 2018 Hands up, who expected 2017 to go like that? If the last twelve months have been nothing else, they’ve been full of surprises. But let me get the most important thing said first: thank you. It really is true that the League Against Cruel Sports is more than just our staff. It is you. It is all of us. Whether you are a member, a donor, a petition signee, you follow us on Twitter or are just reading this – you are doing your part – and the League couldn’t do it without you. General Election If a snap election was unpredictable, then fox hunting being the second most talked about campaign issue online during that election was even less so. But here we stand. The failure to understand just how toxic the issue of fox hunting is (85% of people across Great Britain are against, it after all), is believed to have cost the Conservative party votes, and as such any attempt to have an open vote on the repeal of the Hunting Act has until at least the end of this parliamentary session in 2019. For the first time in many years, the League and the rest of the anti-hunting movement finds itself on the front foot. With any luck, next year we will not be spending time defending the Hunting Act, but pro-actively looking towards strengthening it. But the Hunting Act isn’t the only way to stop illegal hunting taking place… National Trust and Trail Hunting Despite losing the vote to ban ‘trail’ hunting on National Trust land, the team and I still consider this campaign a huge success. Was it disappointing to lose by 28,629 votes to 27,525? Yes, it was, like you wouldn’t believe! But dwelling on the negative doesn’t do anybody, least of all the animals, any favours. Besides which, it ignores the significant positive. The success of the National Trust licensing campaign, with thanks to Helen Beynon and groups such as National Dis-Trust, has significantly shifted the discussion surrounding the ongoing issue of illegal hunting – namely that the false alibi, and cover for the chasing and killing of animals, so-called ‘trail’ hunting, has caught the attention of the mainstream media and the public alike. No longer is the question of ‘are the hunts breaking the law?’ in doubt, the question now is ‘how?’ Animal Cruelty Sentencing It’s not just the campaign against hunting that has come on leaps and bounds. In 2017, the government committed to extending sentences for animal cruelty to up to five years. Under our campaign to stamp out dog fighting in the UK, the League was campaigning for an increase in sentencing from the woefully low current maximum sentence of six months. More than 100,000 of you signed the petition calling for stronger measures to combat dog fighting, and England and Wales will soon have a much stronger deterrent for those that wish to commit such acts of atrocity. It would be unfair for me to suggest that the League is exclusively responsible for any of the above. In recent years, I have noticed the whole animal welfare sector has grown closer, acknowledging that we are all working towards the same goal; that of a better world for the animals that we seek to protect. The League may only be a part of that, we are only a relatively small team after all. But thanks to you, your action and support, we are a team that punches well above our weight, and makes a significant difference. I look forward to working with you again in 2018. Happy New Year.