Thursday, September 16, 2004

Fox Hunting

As much as I've tried to steer away from it, I can't help but write a few words about the fox hunting furore thats happened over the last few days.

Now, I'll nail my colours to the mast here and now: I dont believe in hunting with dogs. Believe me, I've thought about it. It's not because I'm working class, or because I'm not from the countryside and certainly not because I don't understand a different way of life. It's plainly and simply because I've yet to see an argument to convince me that killing a fox with a Dog is necessary.

It comes down to 3 basic questions. I dont believe this is simplifying it, although the debate does need simplifying.

The first question for me is: Is fox hunting a sport, or is it a necessary act? I used to work near Melton Mowbray, long considered the hunting centre of the UK and CJ still lives near there. I have seen and been held up by enough hunts to know that the people participating in it aren't doing something that is purely a chore or something that is a service to the countryside, they are also doing it for pleasure and entertainment. It's hand in hand if anything. If it was simply a job to be done, then why the hoardes of spectators or why the dressing up? Setting animals on other animals with gory death an unavoidable end result solely on one side, while
people watch is not a sport. It just isn't. If the argument is that it's a sport then banning it is a no-brainer.

We'll assume then that it is a neccesary act. Therefore the second question must be: does the fox population actually need controlling?

Foxes may be vermin and may be a pest, but lets understand that it's their nature to pillage. As it is a Cats nature to catch Birds. Foxes may need controlling but surely there are better ways to deal with it than chasing them through the countryside until they collapse with fatigue only to be disembowelled by the closely following pack of dogs. There simply has to be a better way than that.

I dont know if the population does need controlling, foxes don't affect my life but I can imagine that there are some people whose life is made worse by these animals. Some reports say the population does need culling, some reports say the opposite. The slant all depends on the sponsors of the reports. But the crux of the matter is that if the fox population doesn't need controlling then there is absolutely no need for this pastime.

Lets assume again that it does need controlling, so the final question asks whether hunting with Dogs is cruel. If the answer is No then let it carry on by all means. But if the answer is yes then it has to be banned. This is the fundamental question. I find it hard to believe that it isn't cruel.

The Countryside Alliance will tell you that people will lose their jobs as a result of a ban on fox hunting, that Dogs will need to be put down and that people's way of life will be altered. This is all very sad and I sympathise with the people involved. But it is plainly and simply a matter of what is right and what is wrong, you cannot let something that is wrong carry on because of the consequences of stopping it. Yes, bear them in mind and make allowances for a smooth transition, but still stop it all the same. It's like not stopping capital punishment because the hangman will lose his job. You just cannot operate a society like that. What is right must be King.

People will try and muddy the waters and change the debate to a Town v country debate or a class war or a personality battle. It's none of these things, it's about right and wrong in a civilised society. They will also bring up the Fishing argument, ban one and ban them all they say, that may be the case in the future. They may also mention that the government should have other priorities, but lets not forget that it was part of the mandate on which this government was elected on. They may mention that it's taking valuable parliamentary time up, but remember that the Conversatives have consistently stalled the bill in the past by submitting numerous amendments.

This has now become democracy in action, it is the will of the people and the will of the people we elect to make our decisions. None of the rhetoric and periphery arguments must be allowed to detract from the main argument or move the debate off course.