Theresa May has made the headlines again for all the wrong reasons, displaying her views on fox hunting and showing her support for the blood sport once again. Many voters feel that with 84% of the public in favour of the ban, there is no need to re-open the debate.
But would Theresa May really see a return to fox hunting if the Conservatives remain the majority party? Find out in this blog.
8th May – Leaked Pro Hunt Emails
The whole issue surrounding blood sports, fox hunting in particular erupted back into the public sphere on the 8th May, when an email was leaked from a prominent hunt Tory peer, urging hunts to ‘mobilise’ support for the Conservatives this coming election, citing that a tory majority of 50 would be enough to see a return to fox hunting.
9th May – Theresa May Factory Visit
Just one day after the press caught hold of and published the story of the leaked emails. Theresa May was on a visit in Leeds talking to potential voters, when a reporter quizzed on her on why she is so keen to see a return to fox hunting, despite the public being strongly against it.
In her response, she made it clear that a Conservative with her at the helm would keep to their commitment to hold a free vote on the repeal of the hunting act – something that David Cameron failed at due to lack of support from the public, other MP’s and the SNP confirming they would not be abstaining from the vote as they had indicated at first. Following this came Brexit and David Cameron’s resignation.
15th May – Live Stream Q and A
And now, just over a week later, Theresa May’s views on fox hunting have made the headlines again, by once again showing her support for a free vote in response to a question from a viewer in a Facebook Q and A livestream:
“What I’m saying is we will have a free vote in Parliament so MPs will be able to make up their own mind on this issue.
“This isn’t the most important issue facing people at this election. I think the most important issue is about who’s going to provide the leadership for the future to take us through Brexit and beyond.”
She then went on to declare that other methods of fox control can be ‘cruel’, it’s worth noting that despite pro hunt claims, foxes rarely die from a ‘nip to the back of the neck’ during hunts.
Additionally, the Burns inquiry (the biggest and most cited inquiry into hunting) concluded that hunting ‘severely compromises the welfare of the fox’ in terms of the stress and pain they go through when hunted. She cited:
“Some of the other forms of dealing with foxes can be cruel, so my view is it should be a free vote for Parliament so members of parliament individually should be able to exercise their view on this matter,”
So, Will Fox Hunting Return Under A Conservative Government?
Not necessarily, as we have stated before, a return to fox hunting is unlikely. What Mr’s May has stated, however, is that she will hold a free vote on a repeal of the hunting act – this will either mean a revised version with ‘relaxed laws’ or a complete scrapping of the hunting act.
Something that David Cameron pushed for was bringing the English and Welsh laws to the same level as the Scottish laws on fox hunting, something that animal campaigners including many people I know protested against as the Scottish laws are much more relaxed.
Back in 2015 when a free vote was planned, the League Against Cruel Sports estimated that around 50 of the 330 Conservative MPs in parliament opposed a repeal of the hunting group, with many including Anthony Wells research director for politics at You Gov speculating that:
“As they get fewer old-type country squires, that probably means you get people who are slightly less likely to support hunting,”
there are currently 650 seats in parliament, with the split for the main parties as follows – obviously this is likely to change on June 8th:
Conservative – 330
Labour – 229
SNP – 54
Lib Dem – 9
Fox Hunting Under A Labour Government
Under a labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, there would likely be no free vote in the first place. Jeremy Corbyn has long since been a supporter for animal rights so a repeal under a labour government is even more unlikely.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) July 13, 2015
What Is A Free Vote?
A free vote a traditionally a vote whereby members of parliament are not put under pressure by their party leaders to vote in a certain way free votes are usually on ethical issues that are seen as a matter of conscience rather than party stance.
Fox Hunting Will Stay Banned
In summary; under a Conservative government a repeal will happen unless there is a U-turn for whatever reason. However, with a mixture of the new MP’s coming into parliament, the gradual decline of MP support for fox hunting, the Conservatives Against Fox Hunting group and the mass public disapproval (particular of Mr’s Mays chosen time to reignite the debate) – a return to fox hunting and other acts banned under the hunting act is extremely unlikely.
What Can I Do To Prevent A Return To Fox Hunting?
There are many things you can do to prevent a return to fox hunting:
- Put pressure on your local candidates to commit to voting against a repeal of the hunting act
- Contact your local MP asking them for their voting commitment on a repeal
- Make sure you register to vote! And use that vote to show your views
- Get involved on Facebook – spread the word and urge your friends to do the same
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this post, drop us a line on Facebook or in the contact form below and we’ll get back to you.