Thursday, November 18, 2004

Hunting Ban

I have just come back from a School Governors meeting at Cromer High School to learn that the Speaker has invoked the Parliament Act to force through the hunting ban. It's got little to do with animal welfare, of course, but let's not rehearse old arguments. I dread the reaction to the inevitable TV pictures of 25,000 hounds being put down. It's a total disgrace and illustrates how out of touch this government is with the countryside. I was interested to read in the EDP today that Norfolk LibDems are unhappy that Norman Lamb voted for retaining a licensed form of hunting. And also that Norman doesn't think it will be a big issue in North Norfolk at the next election. In his dreams...

"North Norfolk Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, who voted for a continuation of hunting under licensing, said he did not think the hunting ban would play heavily in his constituency in the election. But disapproval of his voting on the issue was voiced by Norwich Lib Dem activist Anthony Hall who issued a statement on behalf of party members in Norfolk who approve of the ban. "The Liberal Democrats are split 50-50 on this", he said."


Westbury-on-Trym Lib Dems said...

Didn't your old mate Anne Widdecombe vote to ban hunting along with quite a number of other Tory MPs? I thought all parties gave MPs a free vote on the matter.

I am not quite sure what political point you are trying to make - am I missing something or are you in complete agreement with Norman Lamb on this matter?

One point which was not clear from yesterday's exchanges is whether pro-hunting Tories would seek to reverse the ban. Perhaps you could clarify the point.

Finally, a quick word of advice to you regarding your blog. I would avoid quotes like "I look forward to the TV pictures of 25,000 hounds being put down." I appreciate that the remark is meant to be ironic/sarcastic but irony and sarcasm are dangerous in print and you run the risk of opponents quoting you out of context.

Iain Dale said...

James, not sure Ann would appreciate being described as "my old mate", but I'm sure she's been called worse!

In answer to your points, yes it was a free vote. I think about 9 Conservatives out of 166 voted for the ban while the LibDems split more or less down the middle (from memory).

We have a manifesto commitment to introduce a bill to reverse the ban, so our position is very clear. The LibDems have no such commitment.

Thank you also for your well meant (I hope!) advice. This is the danger of doing a blog, which by its very nature is spontaneous. I rarely change a posting I have made, but I think on reflection I will make an exception here. See, you have more influence on me than you thought!

Anonymous said...

I am not pro-hunting but I am not pro-banning hunting. More than anything I object to the amount of parliamentary time wasted debating what is essentially a superficial matter. I also find the arrogance and self-righteousness of both the anti-hunt and pro-hunt campaigners distasteful and irritating.

However, as I believe has been pointed out in the Sunday Telegraph and other respected national institutions, our elected representatives have voted 6 times in a free vote to ban hunting. Civil disobedience will be an unjustifiable wasted of police time and resources - and in particular hypocritical from people in less urban areas who frequently complain about the absence of visible policing. Surely they can see the contradiction in their complaints on the one hand and their threats to break the law publicly and without shame on the other...

Regarding the killing of 25,000 hounds - that matter will be on the conscience of the houndmasters alone. There are other ways of hunting without killing foxes, and there are plenty of soft-hearted animal lovers and organisations ready to go out of their way to save the hounds. With all due respect, the Lords could have provided the key time period in which those who work in hunting - including the dogs - could have found alternative employment. I believe it was the Tory peers who refused to vote for delayed imposition of the ban.

I think the salutary lesson from the hunting ban is - democracy may not always give us the results we like. However, just because people don't vote the way we'd like them to doesn't mean the vote wasn't democratic. etc etc