The highly contested U.K. elections are over, and Tory David Cameron is the new British prime minister. Now that he is in power, Britain’s foxes need to be wary, as Cameron fully intends to overturn a ban on fox hunting that has been in effect since 2004.
What is a fox hunt? Often, it consists of a bunch of people in ridiculous, pompous clothes pursuing a fox on horseback. They may think of themselves as hunters, but the actual killing is done by the packs of dogs accompanying them. The chase can go on for hours, as the terrified fox runs for its life. When the fox is finally cornered, the dogs kill it, often tearing it apart. The post-mortem celebrations can be ghastly, according to the League Against Cruel Sports:
When the fox is dead, most hunts cut off the tail (‘brush’), the feet (‘pads’) and the head (‘mask’) as trophies. The carcass is then thrown to the hounds. Some hunts also indulge in the practice of ‘blooding’ — the smearing of fresh fox blood on the faces of those, usually children, who have witnessed their first kill.
Why would the Tories support such a cruel practice, especially since 75 percent of Britons support the ban on fox hunting? Maybe because Cameron himself is quite keen on bloodsport. Echoing the “jes ‘folks” populist pandering of Sarah Palin, Cameron said in an interview, “I was taught to fish by a wonderful grandfather. I was taught to shoot rabbits by my dad. I’ve always been a country boy and I went hunting.” Personally, I don’t know too many “country boys” whose fathers were stockbrokers, went to Oxford, and count an English king as an ancestor.
More likely, Tories in the U.K. are pro-fox hunting because Labour is anti-fox hunting. It was Labour, after all, that enacted the ban back in 2004. According to the Daily Telegraph, to the Tories, protecting foxes is an example of “class warfare.”
Labour has remained supportive of the ban on fox hunts. Only three Labour members of Parliament have voted to overturn the ban. And one of the most eloquent defenders of the current law has been Labour environment secretary Hilary Benn. Benn wrote a letter to David Cameron in which he stated, “Labour banned foxhunting, stag hunting and hare coursing because there is no place for animal cruelty in a modern, civilized society.” Noting the widespread support of the ban, Benn wondered, “In the light of all this, we find it impossible to understand why you are determined to legalise once again the tearing to pieces of foxes by dogs. It is also very hard to see why this would be a priority for an incoming government.”
Animal lovers in the U.K. no doubt wonder the same thing.
Photo Credit: Public Domain