Monday 10 May 2010

Huntin', Shootin', and Votin'

An anonymous comment on my previous post takes me to task for my 'ridiculous stance' on hunting during the election campaign, and claims that I lost votes every time that I attacked the Tory candidate for his pro-hunting views. Actually, I don't think that I once 'attacked him for his pro-hunting views' – my attacks were more about the way he chose to fudge or hide his views on the issue.

I do have a view about hunting, and I expressed that clearly whenever the question came up, as it often did on the doorstep. (And, incidentally, it was raised far more often by those opposed to hunting than by hunt supporters.) I know that there are some who would have preferred me to have been less forthright in expressing my views, or to try and fudge in the way that others have been prepared to do. But that's not my style – it may be old-fashioned, but I believe that if someone asks me my view on any issue, they have a right to expect an honest answer, not a lie or a fudge.

But my real concern in all this wasn't actually about hunting as such – it was about three things which worried me – and continue to worry me – about the integrity of the democratic process. In this context, hunting was merely the common thread running through them and binding them together.

The first was the way in which a local constituency of a major party can be infiltrated and then taken over by a group of people motivated by one specific issue.

The second was the way in which they then fought a campaign which deliberately ignored that issue publicly, whilst the human and financial resources for the campaign were being provided entirely or largely by people who wanted a particular outcome on that one issue.

And the third was the way in which individuals and groups can pour money into constituencies to obtain a particular result. Whilst that is a wider question for a number of constituencies, in this area, the same underlying issue was the prime motivation.

Regardless of one's views on the question of repealing the Hunting Act, I think that these are all valid concerns, and I do not for one moment regret raising them repeatedly.


Anonymous said...

no question Hart had the most money in the pot, all those tory signposts in farmers fields flanking the A40, amount of glossy leaflets,
i just hope that lib dems strike a deal with labour which will part nullify con taking carm w and s pembs

Anonymous said...


You are missing the point either deliberately or because you cannot grasp the argument.

Your views on funding are perfectly valid, and whilst what happens within a Conservative association is probably their business rather than ours you may also be right about that.

But if you are against hunting and are not even willing to accept the failings of the current legislation or, at least, agree that it should be for the assembly not Westminster to decide how we control foxes in Wales the you alienate a large proportion of rural voters who would consider voting for you. By raising the issue in relation to Hart you consigned yourself to a bad fourth.

No-one is asking you to change your views but there are ways of dealing with it in a way that does not alienate potential Plaid voters. I am afraid that your antipathy towards Hart and the Conservatives probably pushed you into a position which did you no favours at the ballot box.

John Dixon said...


"what happens within a Conservative association is probably their business rather than ours". At one level, yes. But the fact that a local association can be taken over by an interest group is something which I think should be of wider concern.

I'm not sure why you think that I don't "agree that it should be for the assembly not Westminster to decide". That is Plaid policy, I fully support it, and I have made that clear to people on a number of occasions.

But the obvious follow-up question is still, "Yes, but if the vote in Parliament is a simple for or against repeal, how would you vote?". It's a straight and valid question, and I've given an honest answer on each occasion.

Nor am I sure why you believe that I am "not even willing to accept the failings of the current legislation". Again, I have said to people a number of times that I'm prepared to look at the detail of the current legislation and the way in which it operates - but what I'm not prepared to do is simply support repeal of the current legislation en bloc.

"there are ways of dealing with it in a way that does not alienate potential Plaid voters". What you really mean is those potential Plaid voters who support hunting. There are other potential Plaid supporters who do not support hunting. It is impossible to take a stance - either way - on an issue like this without potentially alienating someone. And, like it or not, I'm simply not the sort of politician who's prepared to fudge to try and give people the impression that I support all their viewpoints. There are enough of those - in all parties - without me adding to the numbers.

Not all Plaid supporters - or members - live in rural areas and support hunting. Some live in rural areas and oppose hunting. Some live in towns, and some of those support hunting and others oppose it. It isn't a simple rural/ urban split, nor is it the case that potential Plaid voters are more likely to support hunting than oppose it.

I'm not sure on what basis you conclude that my stance on this one issue was responsible for the result of the election. That looks to me like a subjective statement made from your own viewpoint. Of course I'm aware that some voters would have opted for Hart on this basis; but I'm also aware that some Tory voters would have moved the other way because they disagree with him on the issue.

You seem to think that the issue has been in some way central to my campaign - it has not. It's not even mentioned in any of my campaign literature, because I haven't considered it that central.

It came up on the doorstep a number of times certainly - and in two or three of the hustings meetings. And I've referred to it on my blog, mostly in referring to the issues of funding etc rather then the question of hunting itself. But I have no delusions about the level of mass readership of this blog...