Jeremy Hunt: Strengthen the ban, don't repeal it

I have the strangest sense of déjà vu. Is it 2017? Or even 2015? You would have thought by now that leaders of the Conservative party would have learned – the Hunting Act is not going anywhere.

Last night, prospective Prime Minister Jeremy Hunt declared that should he become leader of the country he would not only allow a vote to repeal the Hunting Act, but he himself would vote to legalise this barbaric activity, citing is as an important part of our heritage. How quaint. Would he also like to bring back dog fighting, child chimney sweeps and slavery too?

In reality, this is a cynical attempt to win over a certain sector of the Tory party. It’s also a rather foolhardy one. But don’t take my word for it, an article in the Spectator today said:

“If you’re going to pursue a strategy which relies on mass public support, it’s probably not the best idea to rally behind one of the most controversial issues in the UK, which potentially cost Theresa May the 2017 general election: repealing the ban on fox hunting.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Let’s review the numbers:

  • 85% of British people want fox hunting to remain illegal
  • 73% of Conservative party voters want fox hunting to remain illegal
  • 379 MPs, a clear parliamentary majority, have indicated they would vote against repeal
  • Over 120,000 people have signed our petition to Strengthen the Hunting Act

During the last general election, our press team worked with The Mirror to press Theresa May on her position on hunting. What was then supposed to be an election all about Brexit, swiftly became about hunting. According to YouGov, “fox hunting” was the most mentioned phrase alongside “dementia tax”, and many political pundits believed to have cost her a majority.

“'I think there was a clear message about that and that's why I say there won't be a vote on fox hunting during this parliament'.” – Theresa May

Back in 2015, then Prime Minister David Cameron attempted to hold a vote to repeal the ban, which was withdrawn when he realised he didn’t have a majority within his own party.

So why pledge to vote on the issue now? With the majority of the parliament going on record to vote against the repeal of the Hunting Act, a move like this is tantamount to political suicide.

Which is probably why historically pro-hunt Boris Johnson is keeping his powder dry. According to The Canary he has revived £36,000 in donations from a fox hunting enthusiast, and has gone on record saying, “If people want to get together to form the fox hounds of Islington I'm all for it”.

It seems certain politicians are looking at hunting the wrong way. Instead of calling it to be legalised, with 85% of people wanting hunting to stay illegal, there can be no greater unifying move than to call for the law to be strengthened.

Hunting is vile and belongs in the history books. Let’s unite together and put it there.

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