Monday, 9 June 2008

A Conservative Obsession

On Friday, I met with a couple of local animal aid activists, who wanted to know my views on a range of issues associated with the Hunting Act. As a candidate, I get a range of invitations to discuss specific issues with all sorts of groups, and always try and oblige.

Hunting is an issue which can be difficult for candidates in elections. Both sides of the argument hold strong and passionate views, and the gap is not an easy one to bridge. My response on issues like this one is simply to state what I think. I know that I can never please everyone, so I just try and give people information on my views, and let them make their own judgement. Some will agree with me; others will not. And there are differences of opinion within all parties, as well as between parties.

On this particular issue, my position is a very simple one. I do support measures to allow the control of wildlife, particularly in support of agriculture, and I do support the killing of animals for food. I do not support the hunting and killing of wild animals purely for 'sport', and I think that whatever methods we use to catch and kill animals should be as humane as possible.

Hunting is likely to be made something of an issue in this constituency come the General Election, of course, not least because the Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance is the Tory candidate. (Although, for some reason, he chooses not to make mention of that rôle on his election material, despite it carrying a salary of around £100,000 a year. He prefers to describe himself as a former chartered surveyor. Quite curious really). And, of course, Cameron has said (as Evidently Chickentown posted, although the blog seems to have completely disappeared) that if he is elected, he will hold a vote on repeal of the act. Inevitably the anti-hunting lobby will also therefore concentrate a certain amount of their effort on the constituency as a result, so, as I said, it will be an issue.

In the series of questions that I was asked, one in particular stands out for me as being a very good question indeed, and one on which I can only guess as to the correct answer:

“As the Countryside Alliance (CA) states that more people are attending hunts but are operating within the law, hunting jobs have not been lost, horses and dogs have not been put down, in your opinion since the 2004 Hunting Act why does it appear to you that the Conservative Party and the CA wishes to repeal the Act and what are the hunts now missing that they wish to repeal the 2004 Hunting Act?”

Indeed. I don’t know why the Tories are so obsessed with the issue. Even their candidate has himself said that there are 1001 more important issues to the countryside. I for one will be concentrating on the top few of those, rather than on number 1002!

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