Why a repeal of the ban is not insignificant.
I read a recent article in the Independent’s ingenious little 20p paper that accused the Tories of worrying about things the voters didn’t care about, naming the hunting ban as one such example. This represents a gross underestimation of the significance of the ban.
That infamous act of 2004 was one of the most controversial domestic policy undertaken by the Labour government under Tony Blair. Blair himself describes it as one of the ‘domestic legislative matters I most regret’. The ban wasn’t based on any public desire for one or on scientific evidence. The ban was enforced as an attack on the people that the Labour government despised – the upper class.
What the government failed to acknowledge though, was the fact that hunting goes far beyond class. It is imbedded in centuries of tradition. It is the culture of the countryside. It keeps it ticking and keeps everything in it’s place. Hunting is a form of unity in the countryside that most town folk or politician could ever understand. Hunting doesn’t create class division. On the contrary, it unites class. The ban created a bitterness in the countryside amongst people of all walks of life that Labour would do well to shrug off and the Conservatives would be foolish not to capitalise on.
To a large part of the Conservative vote, repeal of the ill enforced, useless and prejudiced act is of paramount importance – but only when the time is right. If David Cameron were to go back on his promise of a free vote in parliament, he would lose his party votes and respect amongst the people in the country. People that represent a strong and loyal support to the party.
The green and pleasant fields of England will be a key area for the Tories in 2015, and far from fighting a useless battle, fighting for repeal makes much more sense than the journalist of the clever little 20p paper understands.