For Fox's Sake : What's Behind the Fox Hunting Debate?

Foxhunters: A much maligned and victimised bunch of whining pricks, or spoilt and selfish cocksocks who excite all the public sympathy of a paedophile
campaigning for access rights to his attractive,
pert-bottomed 6 year old son?

I've been half-heartedly following the whole debate about banning foxhunting in this country, and I've found myself increasingly astounded at some of the things that the Countryside Alliance have been saying. At first I thought that their bleating about how banning foxhunting would lead to a breakdown in society, or how a ban would infringe their human rights, must have been a joke. You know, like when Hitler signed Neville Chamberlains Piece of Paper for Peace, and was afterwards heard to say "Well, he seemed like such a nice old gentleman. I thought I would give him my autograph."

But no, there was no hint of a smirk on their
collective face. They were serious. Or at least, they wanted everyone to think that they were. So why are they so absolutely hell-bent on preserving an archaic and bloodthirsty practice that even they agree is rife with cruelty? And why are we being bombarded with messages from the Alliance that this is the first step on the slide to a brutal and totalitarian government who ride roughshod over the rights of the people? Well, as is always the case in these matters, it's about money and privilege. And, of course, politics.

On the side of the Pro-Hunt supporters, we have the Countryside Alliance. Supposedly a confederation of people who are concerned with the raw deal that rural folk are getting from the government, they claim to be fighting on behalf of Farmers, huntsmen, shepherds, Forestry commission workers; pretty much any and all issues relating to the countryside will be dealt with by the Alliance. On the Anti-Hunt side, we have pretty
much the entire rest of the country.

If you were to believe the Alliance, the public have been lied to by the government when it comes to foxhunting. We're just ignorant and uninformed souls who don't understand their country ways, and why it's absolutely VITAL that foxes are chased down and slaughtered by braying Sloanes rather than shot or trapped by farm workers. And rather than interfere, we should just let them get on with the hunt. Because if they're shot, they'll suffer far more than they would if they were chased for hours before being torn to pieces by a pack of baying hounds, and we urban types are only concerned with cute ickle animals and we don't want anyfink nasty to happen to 'em, oo we?

Which is, of course, a remarkably patronising piece of nonsense on their part. I think the main objection that most people have to foxhunting is that it simply doesn't sit right with us that, in this day and age, a certain section of society are getting their kicks from an activity that is rooted in bloodthirst and deliberate cruelty. The whole attitude of the Alliance is one of condescending patronisation to anyone who doesn't hunt. And I'm rather glad about this as it
means that they have no chance whatsoever of their
various lies and half-truths having any effect on the general public.

Bite Back!

Why am I so adamant that the Alliance has no case in favour of Fox hunting? Well, it's because the whole Countryside Alliance is a sham. It's a piece of sleight-of-hand to distract attention from the fact that this whole storm in a teacup is about
nothing more than a tiny percentage of wealthy people fighting tooth and nail to preserve an ancient method of distinguishing themselves from the common herd.

And just what do I mean by that suspiciously
rabble-rousing statement? Well, the Alliance claim to fight for all countryside issues. Yet the only thing you'll hear them scream loudest about is foxhunting. Has anyone heard any complaint that it will be illegal for farm workers to go Hare Coursing? Nope. Have you opened your morning paper to read a shrieking denunciation of the inevitable end of taking terriers out Ratting? Nuh uh. Yet both of these activities are covered by the ban on hunting with dogs. So why no hue and cry about them? Could it be because that these activities are the exclusive preserve of people at the lower end of the social spectrum (or "oiks" to give
them their official Countryside Alliance title)?

And what about other rural issues? Why aren't the
Alliance marching on London to demand that
Supermarkets be forced to pay farmers the full value of their produce, rather than forcing them into a position where they sell their stock for peanuts and thus unable to eke out even a basic living? How about hearing them complain about the lot of the average sheep farmer who is forced to support himself and his family on an income of less than £5,000 per year? Strangely, the leading lights of the Alliance stay quiet about that, and I'm sure it's got absolutely NOTHING to do with their being shareholders (and in some cases, board members) of the companies that profit out of this rural misery. Where are their frenzied demands for decent compensation for the farmers forced into utter despair because of the Foot and Mouth epidemic? Could it be because the Alliance leaders tend to be major landowners who have received ample government compensation and care not one bit for the (fewer and fewer) small land-owning farmers and tenant farmers?

The simple fact is that these people don't give a shit about the countryside. They don't care about the job losses, the death knell of families' way of life, the hardship, or the human suffering caused by the Government. They care about keeping their social calendar intact. Do you really think that Simon Hart, the head of the Countryside Alliance, will lose his livelihood and home when hunting with dogs is finally banned? Or will it be the people who work on the Hunt who are turfed out and left to fend for themselves? And were the Lords and MP's who opposed the compromise
yesterday (a compromise which would have delayed the ban until 2006 to give huntsmen time to find other jobs) doing so in the interests of the people who will undoubtedly suffer as a result of the ban? Or by guaranteeing it will be banned in February 2005, were they just looking to cause problems for the government, who will now face civil disobedience and protests from those living in rural areas throughout the election campaign next year?

If we want evidence that our government are
unrepresentative bullies, we need look no further than Blair's slithering denial of any blame for lying to us in the lead up to the gulf war. Or their refusal to acknowledge the fact that our pensions are screwed, and we'll need to work longer for a smaller pension whilst they retire wealthy and happy. Or that the NHS is dying a gradual death and all they can do is invite
private industry to pick at its corpse. I'm happy to fight for those rights that affect an overwhelming majority. But fighting for the right of a few to sate their bloodlust? Put it this way; if packs of chavs started hunting urban foxes with packs of rottweilers, does anyone seriously doubt that these same people demanding that their right to hunt be preserved would be screaming in Daily Mail-inspired fury at the behaviour of 'uncivilised ruffians'? There are more important government policies for us to be worried about, and more important rural issues to fight for.

Let the hunt, and foxes, die a comparatively quick and painless death.

By Codeine