It was with a shameless smile that the aptly named Jeremy Hunt gleefully asserted on the Daily Politics that the Tories would try to overturn the Fox-Hunting ban. It’s bad enough that they are trying to challenge a ban which was and is widely supported and democratically arrived at, but also clear that it’s a nod and sweetener to their country lord friends that they hope to be back in business come the 6th of May.
If we wind-back our memory to the pre-ban era, there was a chorus of moans and groans about how everyone would lose their jobs in the country and the whole culture and economy of the countryside would collapse without the fox hunt. That never happened. Of course they did lose all those nouveux riche banker customers who would come down to the sticks to bag a fox, having never worn wellies in their lives, never mind handled a gun. Perhaps shooting-off part of the tail or injuring the fox, leaving a few gamekeepers to finish him off on the quiet. Quite a lot of money to be made in that faux countryside pursuit, no wonder it pained them to see a ban.
The tactic has always been to chastise people for being city-dwellers with no idea about how the countryside works, but of course I was born in the countryside on a farm. It was nothing grand, no stables packed with horses, no country banquets, just hard work and the fresh air. We chased foxes away all the time, on rare occasions maybe killed the odd one, but never pursued them for miles; and really just accepted that when you live in the country and have chickens on display there are going to be foxes with a roused interest in a potential easy meal. Just like we expected mice because of the grain store.
This is not what the fox-hunters care about at all. They care about dressing up in fancy costumes and playing historical games, but they they also think you need to kill foxes to do it. The pretence that it’s about fox-control is used as an attempt to justify the fact that they want to keep alive an old tradition that belongs in the past. Some jobs have been built on the back of the hunt, but that’s no reason to keep it alive, that would be like banning electric street lighting just to keep the lamp-lighter in business – it’s ludicrous. If the countryside has hedged its economy on the hunt (which we know is not true) then it needs to reorganise. The people who fear losing a job become self-serving and fight anything, right or wrong, just to protect a livelihood. The people hired to protect the hunt from saboteurs are simple thugs.
So it wouldn’t be good arguments that could ever bring back fox-hunting – not even those by their in-house philosopher Roger Scruton who confuses nearly everything with Tory romanticism – it could only be some sort of electoral fraud, assuming that the issue will never be put to a real democratic vote. Although it’s clear the Tories are not interested in democratic pronouncements, like the majority vote that outlawed fox-hunting, they’re more interested in helping their friends and fulfilling the romantic historical dream part of conservative ideology.