For The Foxes: banning fox hunting in Scotland for good
One more push. That’s what we need to take us over the line and really ban fox hunting in Scotland – for good.
The cards have been dealt and the Government is about to declare its intent. Will it really ban fox hunting or allow it to go on? The Lord Bonomy Review, the successful prosecution of the Jed Forest hunt and the crystal-clear mood of the Scottish public all point to a decision to firmly grasp the nettle and do what the Parliament thought it had already done in 2002 – ban fox hunting.
The First Minister has always been unequivocal about her dislike of fox hunting. The grassroots of her party, who we regularly speak to at their party conferences, don’t just dislike it – they are appalled by both the act and the fact that it still goes on in Scotland. Most SNP MSPs we speak to are equally concerned, as are those from Labour and the Greens. While the Liberal Democrats sit on the fence, even the Tories are not too bothered and are supporting most of the recommendations made by Lord Bonomy. Which may give you the clue that Lord Bonomy’s recommendations don’t go quite far enough…
Although his report concluded that there is supporting evidence to show that “flushing to guns” is used as a decoy for “traditional hunting” he didn’t recommend removing that option for the ten Scottish mounted hunts that still go out two or three times a week between November and March. The League is convinced that if “flushing to guns” remains an option then foxes will continue to be chased and killed by packs of hounds as they were when the Jed Forest hunt broke the law last year.
Even if the Government side with the Tories and just go for the recommendations made by Lord Bonomy, all may not be lost. Alison Johnstone from the Greens has already started developing a Member’s Bill which would really ban fox hunting. Either that Bill or similar amendments to a Government Bill could expect to get widespread support – particularly if the Government allowed a free vote on the issue. A free vote allows MSPs to vote with their consciences rather than as their party advises them. There is precedent for such a vote – the 2002 Bill was voted in on a free vote. And perhaps most importantly, it would look very odd for an SNP Government to whip its MSPs to vote with the Tories and allow fox hunting to carry on.
The fox hunters seem to believe they have influential allies within the SNP. It is certainly a broad church and it’s not impossible. If that is the case now is the time for us to act. The Government have said that they will announce what they plan to do “in the spring”. I’m writing this in my garden in Edinburgh so I’m guessing spring is with us…
We have just released a new video which shows the fantastic momentum that is now behind the call to really ban fox hunting in Scotland. It ends by calling on members of the public to once more tell their MSPs that they want to see an end to this stain on Scotland’s reputation. We thought we’d banned it in 2002, let’s get the job done now.