Open letter highlights League disappointment in Fabian Society report
Earlier this week, in co-operation with the Countryside Alliance, the Fabian Society released a report on how Labour can engage with rural voters. We strongly disagreed with the conclusions drawn in the report regarding animal welfare and wrote to the Fabians to highlight our disagreement. That letter is reproduced below.
I hope this letter finds you well.
I am writing to you regarding the Fabian Society/Countryside Alliance publication “Labour Country: how to rebuild the connection with rural voters”.
The report’s conclusions in relation to animal welfare are disappointing. The report states that “the ban on hunting with hounds is now a settled issue with wide support across the country. Yet, as one Labour councillor in rural Cornwall said, “even 10 years on” there are “ex-mining villages where a proportion of the working class vote may raise the issue of fox hunting”, with “real hostility [to Labour and the ban] at times”.
Contrary to this, polling carried out by Ipsos-Mori on behalf of the League has found that 71% of people in rural areas would view candidates in favour of the hunting ban more favourably, compared to 64% in urban areas. A majority of both Conservative and Liberal Democrat voters also view anti-hunting candidates more favourably.
As you will be aware, the Countryside Alliance was brought into existence from the British Field Sports Society and its key aim continues to be repeal of the Hunting Act, a piece of legislation which was, by any measure, a landmark achievement for the last Labour Government.
The Countryside Alliance has continually attempted to make synonymous support for hunting with living in the countryside, which is despite polling showing that support for the ban is as strong in rural areas as it is in urban.
Support for better animal welfare is not a barrier to electoral success. It is not the preserve of those living in urban areas nor of any one party. It is, however, the mark of a progressive, compassionate society. As the last election and subsequent events have demonstrated, it is also popular with voters.
We accept that debate and disagreement are part of what the Fabian Society exists to do, and we are pleased to see rural voices being given such prominence by your organisation. However, we believe it is an error of judgement for the Fabians to echo the Countryside Alliance’s position on this, given it is so vastly out of step with the British public, particularly in rural areas.
Please note we will also be publishing this letter on our website.