field trials club
Take the bastards on Mr Hart - by WR Thom
There were times during the third reading of the hunting bill in the
House of Commons that I almost felt sorry for Alun Michael. This was
especially so when he was cowering under the accurate machine-gun
delivery of James Gray backed up by the heavy artillery of Nicholas
Soames. Even when the poor soul turned to his own side he was caught
by the friendly fire from Tony Banks. In the end he took the only
course open to him - he surrendered.
It is a shame about Mr. Banks: on the odd occasion when he is not
talking about football (where he regularly bores for England) or
hunting (where he shamelessly reveals his complete ignorance of the
subject) he is a very humorous speaker and is certainly a consummate
parliamentarian. As for Alun Michael; I wouldn’t put him in charge
of a rest home for retired gerbils.
The following week Mr. Michael was in his element. All he had to do
was to say what was going to happen and not bother about the
consequences. In this respect he was in auspicious company as only
Oliver Cromwell and Adolf Hitler have found themselves in the same
situation. The Germans still do not hunt, but Cromwell’s decision
was overturned soon after his death: I would hate to think that we
have to wait until Mr. Michael hands in his dinner pail before we
can get on with our lives.
At the moment our future depends upon the deliberations of the Lords
and Ladies in the Upper House. It is unlikely that they will be as
unstatesmanlike or as illiberal as their commoner colleagues, but we
cannot just rely on them.
How did we get into this situation in the first place? Some blame
must be accepted by the leaders of the Countryside Alliance for
sacking the ebullient Janet George and for imagining that they were
dealing with honourable men. It’s a wonder they still have all their
fingers in place.
And some blame must be accepted by all the spokespersons for hunting
that time after time put forward the limp excuse that hunting must
continue because foxes kill lambs and chickens. Of course they do,
but that is not hunting’s raison d’etre. If it were then there would
be no defence of stag hunting or hare hunting or coursing. Stags and
hares don’t eat chickens. I don’t hunt but some of my nearest and
dearest do and they don’t hunt to save their neighbours’ chickens:
they hunt because they love it and because their whole social life
revolves around it. You cannot defend your sport in such a
limp-wristed way. Certainly, if something I was passionate about -
like compost heaps and losing favourites - were threatened I hope I
would have jumped up and down a bit more than the C.A. have over the
past couple of years.
And what if the House of Lords cannot save hunting? I do hope there
will not be a general skulking back to tents and acceptance of
fates. Remember what the great man said in a far, far worse
situation - "this is only the end of the beginning".
Hunting cannot be successfully policed. Therefore, the best step the
hunting organisations can take is to meet and compose a letter to
the Prime Minister in which they state that they cannot accept such
impractical and divisive legislation and will, therefore, carry on
with their affairs as usual.
They might also paint Mr. Blair a picture of all the hunts on Exmoor
meeting on the same day but on different parts of the moor. It would
take all the police in Devon and Somerset to try to find them.
Especially if there happened to be the odd strategically placed
tractor parked here and there.
Come on, Mr. Hart, take the bastards on.
Bill Thom, July 2003