Last week, after a crafty attempt to modify existing fox hunting legislation (which bans the hunting of foxes with packs of hounds) in order to bring back fox hunting fully in due course, David Cameron (whose constituency lies . . . in Hunt territory) was foiled by the 56 members of the Scottish National Party. As fair as I’m aware, Scottish people are not particularly sensitive about fox hunting, but it was a topic that came up early in the new Parliament and gave DNP MPs a wonderful opportunity to embarrass the Prime Minister — no doubt the first of many more to come.
I’ve changed my mind greatly since I was a schoolboy who became a member of the League Against Cruel Sports (and had my leg pulled unmercifully at school for wearing a badge on my lapel). In my old age, I find that I have changed my mind and wouldn’t vote to ban fox hunting if I were an MP. What I would vote to ban, however, is the artificial breeding of foxes by Hunts in order to let them loose later to chase and kill them — on the grounds that this is gratuitous suffering and not fit for a grown up human being. If a wild fox is hunted and killed it’s not a great deal different from foxes’ own competitive methods of dispersal (male foxes chasing other males away from their territory). If a hand-reared fox is hunted, it is doubly demeaning to the hunters because that fox would have had no experienced of the topography of the countryside in which he was released and trying to find safety.
What I think is pathetic about fox hunters is that they never justify their practice by saying that it gives them pleasure — which it obviously does. In my book, this equates them with boys who blow up frogs with a straw until they explode.