To repeal the Hunting Act would be a mistake

David Cameron recently suggested that if the Conservatives are returned to power after the next election they would repeal the ban on fox hunting, introduced in 2004 by Labour’s Hunting Act. Writing in the Countryside Alliance Magazine, the Prime Minister described “a rural way of life which a born and bred Londoner might struggle to understand” and he affirmed his belief that “people should have the freedom to hunt”.

Cameron’s comments imply that the hunting ban is restricting people’s freedom. Of course, liberties must be protected; they can help to prevent the dreadful intolerances which we have unfortunately seen far too often throughout history. Therefore, there is not an issue with having a vote if the public supports it. Not to do so, if the public supported it, would be to undermine the functioning of our democracy.

Democracy is the key to a free society because it allows people’s voices to be heard, and governments can respond to this accordingly. It is a system designed to be a platform which allows all to speak. However, the polls show that the majority of the public do not support the repeal of the ban. A poll conducted by MORI in 2012 discovered that 76 per cent were opposed to fox hunting and 81 per cent opposed to deer hunting. In this context, to repeal the act would be undemocratic and, therefore, would not promote liberty at all. This is not tyranny of the majority. The very fact that the issue has been raised again confirms this. Tyranny of the majority can only exist when those with an opinion which is in the minority are denied their right to express that opinion. David Cameron’s ability to express his point of view on this issue and the protests which have taken place since the implementation of the Hunting Act proves that those in the minority are able to express and defend their opinions.

In my opinion, to repeal the Hunting Act would be a mistake. Animals are relatively defenceless, cannot voice consent and do not ask to be involved. Therefore, surely it is the act of hunting that is truly undermining liberty. David Cameron claimed in the Countryside Alliance Magazine that the act has “done nothing for animal welfare”. However, the League Against Cruel Sports recently released a report which concluded that the Act has been successful, with 341 convictions for illegal hunting between 2005 and 2013. Admittedly, the Countryside Alliance claims that only 21 of these 341 convictions involved hunts “registered with the Council of Hunting Associations”, but what is important is that the Act has at least prevented some animals from experiencing pain and suffering for someone else’s pleasure.

The Act may not be as effective as it should be, but I believe that we must attempt to improve the legislation because this is the democratic will. We should, as Caroline Lucas has suggested, expand the Act to include other sports which inflict pain and suffering on animals, such as hare coursing and grouse shooting. Indeed, another poll by Ipsos MORI found that 88 per cent believe hare coursing should be illegal. As long as the electorate wishes it, legislation against hunting must remain implemented and be strengthened. At the same time, we must ensure that those who oppose such an action have the ability to speak against it. The ability to think critically before we act can only exist in a society which includes a multiplicity of opinions and encourages debate.

9 comments

  1. 20 Mar ’15 at 8:07 am

    George Winn-Darley

    It is perhaps an indication of the level of informed comment in this article that Lucas does not know that Hare coursing is already illegal under the hunting act. Further that when it says ” the Act has at least prevented some animals from experiencing pain and suffering” that it offers no evidence for that. This is point that many involved in these matters dispute. There was no evidence from the extensive government enquiries that pain and suffering were involved in properly conducted hunting. Just as many foxes and deer are killed each year now as before the Act but it is done outside of the controlled hunting of the associations that set the standards and did so in the public arena. perhaps this is why Tony Blair said in his memoirs that the hunting act was his biggest regret.

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    • 23 Mar ’15 at 7:38 pm

      Patricia Betty

      There is no evidence to support that animals DONOT suffer pain and terror so we must err on the side of caution. Your argument is argumentum ad ignorantiam as you are stating a hypothesis which you cannot prove. Absence of proof does not mean you are correct. Three post mortem reports on foxes killed by hounds show that death is was caused by biting. Dogs kill by eviscerating their prey and tearing it apart. Not a pleasant way to die I’m sure you will agree.

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    • Blair the war criminal is a cunt, period. No pain or suffering? Fuck me….,.

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    • Let country people do what they have done for hundredths of years and let city people go to there fancy restaraunts there has been 1000s of hares foxs shot and not all have been killed clean with some dying with gangerine

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  2. We live in the 21st century, not the 18th. #keeptheban

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  3. 23 Mar ’15 at 9:00 pm

    Michelle Cosstick

    I agree it is no a pleasant way to die.

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  4. 23 Mar ’15 at 9:00 pm

    Michelle Cosstick

    I agree it is not a pleasant way to die.

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  5. 28 Mar ’15 at 2:21 pm

    John Fitzgerald

    Repeal of the UK’s hunting act would bring back not just foxhunting but also hare coursing, a fact that the fox hunters and Tories tend to avoid mentioning. Both hare coursing and fox hunting are demonstrably cruel. The fox is chased until exhaustion delivers it to the pack to be disemboweled. A fox that manages to escape underground during a hunt is dragged to the surface with the aid of spades and terriers…more “sport” for the men and women who derive pleasure from watching animals suffer. Hares will be pulled asunder by competing greyhounds if coursing is re-instated by David Cameron & Co. Will he be among the fans looking on and listening to the death screams of the gentlest creature in the countryside? He might as well be…if he succeeds in repealing the Hunting Act because the return of hare coursing will be an assurance consequence of repeal. Fair play to the 20 or 30 Conservative MPs who refuse to back the return of live animal baiting practices to the UK countryside. They are holding the line against some of the most depraved cruelties ever devised by man.

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  6. to suggest that a fox feels no fear or pain when torn apart by hounds and exhausted is ludicrous, crazy and only a fox hunter might actually believe that so that he/she doesn’t feel any guilt.
    Those who hunt wild animals are callous and in denial, desensitized and the demonization of this beautiful small animal helps these people to feel that they are actually doing something good. dream on. In fact arable farmers benefit from foxes as they predate many rabbits. That’s a fact. I’d like to see the hunt saboteurs on horseback too , with their own horn and that would scupper the whole nasty killing spree the hunts love so much.

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