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Why David Cameron has ditched a free vote on hunting

22 April 2014

David Cameron has, according to this morning’s Times, U-turned on his Coalition Agreement promise to hold a free vote in the House of Commons on repealing the Hunting Act. This wasn’t a great surprise – what had annoyed rural Tories more was the failure of the two Coalition parties to agree on a very limited relaxation of the act to allow upland farmers to use up to 40 dogs to flush foxes out of their dens for shooting to prevent them savaging lambs. But why has the Prime Minister, usually rather finicky about not breaking promises, U-turned on the promise of a free vote?

The reason is that the pro-hunting lobby know they will lose the free vote if it is held before 2015, and fear that this would set back their cause by showing that parliament has a view on keeping the Hunting Act. They would rather strike when the time is right, rather than push the Prime Minister into holding the vote soon. As I reported in the Telegraph in March, Number 10 understands this, with one source telling me:

‘The hunting lobby don’t want a Commons free vote at the moment: it would set back the cause, as they’d lose it.’

Even MPs who get rather cheesed off rather regularly with Cameron appreciate this and struggle to criticise him for it. But this doesn’t mean they’re relaxing. The fight now is to get a pledge on hunting into the party’s 2015 manifesto.

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Show comments
  • Christo Money

    Whichever way it is packaged Fox Hunting is purely and simple a Blood Sport; it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do conservation or countryside management. This is why it is so abhorrent to all sane and decent people and should be consigned to the depths of our past in the draw marked ‘Shameful History’.

    But, one point in your article I would like to address; “…flush foxes out of their dens for shooting to prevent them savaging lambs.” I would invite Ms. Hardman to provide a single piece of evidence demonstrating the attacking of a healthy and strong lamb being savaged by a fox. Foxes are fearful of sheep, especially fully grown ewes! Foxes have only ever been witnessed taking either dead lambs or, at worst, lambs which have been deserted by their mothers and left for dead and are in the last throes of life. There are NO documented or proven occurences of a fox taking a healthy, live lamb.

    So, please, if you wish to proffer a balanced article I would ask that you do not include misinformation proffered by the pro-hunt brigade who are simply grasping at any indistinct crumb of desperate rural-myth to grab the attention and sympathy for their bloodlust to gain any traction possible within the ranks of the uninformed.

    The Blood ‘Sport’ of Fox Hunting is dead; and forever may it remain so.

  • balance_and_reason

    Can we hunt socialists…..the leading cancer suffered in this country. 2 birds with one stone, leisure and healthcare in one.

  • Rob Atkinson

    That has to be true. The cause will be lost and lost anyway. Anything controversial doesn’t deserve a promise.

  • Donna

    Time the Tories listened to the people instead of the blood lusting minority!!! This barbaric activity that should remain in the past!!!! Mr Cameron, stop wasting money and parliamentary time on bringing back something the vast majority of decent people don’t want!!!!

  • Monkey_Bach

    If the same effort went into making the world a better place than has been wasted in campaigning to restore the right for men and women to kill wild mammals in cruel and disgusting ways in 21st century Great Britain we would already be living in heaven on earth.

  • Conway

    The fight now is to get a pledge on hunting into the party’s 2015 manifesto.” It doesn’t matter what’s in the manifesto; Gordon Brown went to court to prove that manifestos are not binding and Cameron has failed to do the things in his previous manifestos, while pushing through things that were not in them. A manifesto promise is meaningless. To be honest, pro-hunting people would be better off throwing their weight behind getting UKIP MPs elected, as their policy on the matter is to allow binding local referenda. It would then be up to the hunts to present their case and convince people to vote for, while the antis can make their case against. You would, therefore, have a situation where local people decide on what happens in their locality.

    • 8089

      “up to the hunts to present their case”

      I don’t think they really have one!

  • Conway

    David Cameron has performed a U turn and ditched a manifesto commitment? I’m shocked, shocked, I say! It’s unheard of – not!

  • Joanna

    Hopefully they will leave the ban for now. Not because fox hunting is wrong or full of ‘rich perverts’ (????), but because at the moment the hunting community is under the radar and doesn’t need the loonie left on its case again. One of the biggest regrets of Blair’s premiership.

    • Conway

      The Act wastes so much police time (and RSPCA donations on failed prosecutions). It doesn’t work, despite the enormous amount of time spent on it. Bad law should be repealed; it brings the law into disrepute. It isn’t even repeal which is being requested by the Welsh packs, though, just an amendment to bring the law in England and Wales into line with the law in Scotland.

  • CharlietheChump

    Not interested, too many other things to get done.

  • Kitty MLB

    Fox hunting, I live in a deeply remote, dark and wild part of the
    countryside. Far too wild for the Jilly Cooper, talyhoo types,
    so Mr Fox is quite safe. But honestly, the countryside does
    need managing. And Cameron is a untrustworthy toad.

  • Jonathan Burns

    I have always been of the opinion there are rather more important issues than letting a group of people on horses with lots of hounds chase a small relative of those same hounds through the country before tearing it apart.

  • MarkyMarkSurrey

    Links with fox hunting is what has ruined the Tories and
    lost them the vote amongst the 80% of normal sane electorate. Most people put
    those who are involved in fox hunting on the same level as paedophiles. They
    are known as the abusers of the countryside. Thanks God most of us are sane
    enough to see through the sick perversions of some Tories and thank god most
    MPs realise fox hunting should stay consigned to the past, along with slavery,
    bear baiting and child labour.

    • balance_and_reason

      You pathetic, new labour moron…hunting foxes = paedo…..truly your values are on a par with the balls broon bliar troop. Go eat your maccy d in surbiton town centre…

      • jodie

        Learn to read? He didn’t say fox hunters are paedophiles, he simply stated that people put them on the same level. Oh, and you don’t seem very ‘balanced and reasonable’ to me, making assumptions and telling people to go ‘eat your maccy d’ just makes you look like am arsehole mate.

        • balance_and_reason

          No….you learn to read…he said ‘Most people people put those who are involved in fox hunting on the same level as pedophiles’….implying himself and the majority of the population.
          Standard socialist hyperbole and absolute nonsense, including the rest of his ridiculous points. he knows nothing of country life. he knows nothing of ‘protecting the countryside….the majority of Surrey is urban suburb.
          He is a sad little lost townie, probably works at blacks leisure and thinks he’s a global eco-warrior with all his far east factory made adventure kit. Maybe he watched a documentary on making a fire in a wood and putting up a tent. Pathetic losers trying to fill their vacant and empty lives by joining witch hunt socialist campaigns.

  • swatnan

    Surely there are more important issues to consider in these hard times than a hue and cry over Hunting? Hence the postpoment. Foxes can breathe a sigh of relief and go about their business.

    • Conway

      When their “business” is taking lambs and further impoverishing hill farmers, that is an important issue – except, of course, in the depths of Islington.

      • swatnan

        You’ve just given me an idea. Why not a Hunt down Islington High Street in pursuit of the Urban Fox? No? Then perhaps a Hunt after these pesky Badgers? Tally Ho! I can picture it now.

        • balance_and_reason

          because it is illegal.

  • Helen Wood

    There are enough rich perverts wanting a repeal to provide Cameron with large “donations” as long as he keeps showing willingness to bring back their sick hobby, but there are not many votes in it, because the majority of people, town and country, don’t get off on torturing animals to death.

    • balance_and_reason

      Ever seen a hen shed shredded by a fox… rips them all to pieces and leaves, maybe taking one hen with it.

  • DavidL

    I suspect the ban’s here to stay. Even if the Conservatives were to secure a majority, there would be quite a number of them in suburban and/or marginal seats, who would not be willing to support a return to hunting, on grounds either of principle or political expediency.

  • southerner

    “….the Prime Minister, usually rather finicky about not breaking promises…”

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.


    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

  • Doggie Roussel

    Another promise broken, another nail in the coalition’s coffin !

    Cameron is a fool… he should never have promised a vote on repealing the hunting ban if he was going to throw his lot in with that political hermaphrodite, Clegg.

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