A sense of optimism: marching for change
This Saturday, I joined hundreds of passionate, energetic and most importantly loud people marching through the streets to make our voices heard. And no, I wasn’t in London. Myself and many League supporters joined up with Devon Against Hunting for a march through Exeter city centre to call for a strengthening of the Hunting Act. Whilst we may not get the national headlines of the (ever so slightly) larger People’s Vote march in the capital, the people of Exeter certainly knew we were there, and their response was overwhelmingly positive.
Marchers congregated in Belmont Park with a fantastic range of placards and a spectrum of home-made accessories from bunny masks to fox puppets before setting off through Exeter city centre. All along the route heads were turned and phones were out to film the procession of dedicated campaigners with one, clear message: We need a real ban on hunting.
In the mass of positivity, one solitary figure emerged to hurl abuse at the estimated 200-300 marchers. Despite his best efforts, the positivity expressed by those on the march and the approving response from the locals of Exeter drowned out the sole negative voice on what was a great day.
Then came the speeches. All who spoke, including myself, stressed that the current Hunting Act just isn’t working. Every day we see hunts out in the countryside rampaging around with no respect for the environment they are in and no intention of abiding by the current act. We still see hunts out chasing and killing animals, this won’t stop until we see the Hunting Act strengthened. This is as apparent in Devon as it is anywhere in the country.
But, progress is being made and that progress should be celebrated. Over Christmas the Labour party pledged to strengthen the Hunting Ban in their next manifesto. And just last week a very constructive Westminster hall debate was held in which politicians on both sides of the house spoke passionately for our wildlife and for a strengthening of the ban.
I for one, left Exeter on Saturday with a reinforced sense of optimism as to the health and progress of the anti-hunting movement. In the last couple of years we’ve moved onto the front foot, shifting away from defending the ban from threats of repeal, to actively pushing for a strengthening of the ban, to enable it to ban hunting as it was meant to. This is a welcome change and one that has come off the back of the passion, dedication and energy of a growing group of campaigners highlighting the weaknesses of the current hunting act.
Thank you to everybody who joined us in Exeter and thank you to the organisers, Devon Against Hunting, for putting on such a successful event!