Of all the issues which need addressing in UK politics, you would think the incoming PM would put the reinstating of fox hunting right at the bottom of the to-do list.
This barbaric sport was banned in England and Wales by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, a year after the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004.
Now Conservative leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt has revealed he would look into reversing this ban if there was a majority agreement in the House of Commons, stating he is personally in favour of bringing fox hunting back.
Speaking with The Telegraph yesterday, Mr Hunt claimed foxhunting should be legal as it is part of British ‘heritage’.
Despite stating he does not participate in fox hunting himself, Mr Hunt said:
I would vote to repeal the ban on fox hunting. It is part of the countryside. And we have to recognise that in terms of the balance of the countryside. You know, it’s part of our heritage.
Mr Hunt said a vote would have to wait until after the next election because there is currently not enough of a majority in the House of Commons to have the law repealed.
This obvious lack of majority should really – really – have given Hunt pause for thought on this matter, but apparently not.
Shortly after the article went to press, Mr Hunt faced a backlash from appalled members of the public and high-profile individuals alike, with fellow politicians treating his comments with scorn.
Many have taken umbrage with Mr Hunt describing fox hunting as being part of British ‘heritage’, quite rightly noting how there have been many shameful aspects of British history which have since been firmly consigned to the history books.
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson wrote the following disgusted tweet:
Fox hunting is not a way of life, it is not part of our heritage. It is the cruel, vicious killing of wild animals by dogs. Jeremy Hunt’s words serve as a timely reminder of the nastiness that runs deep in the Tory party.
Mental health writer and novelist Matt Haig tweeted:
Fox hunting was the kind of sport people did before they realised foxes were intelligent, sentient, sensitive creatures who feel pain as much as we do. Anyone who supports it is a Jeremy Hunt.
“Fox hunting is part of the countryside…part of our heritage” Jeremy Hunt.
So was dog fighting, bear bating and lots of other cruel, stomach churning practices which belittle us all as human beings.
— Dominic Brunt (@dominicbrunt) July 4, 2019
Following the controversy surrounding his statements, Mr Hunt has since appeared to back down considerably in regards to his poorly received stance.
During an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Hunt said he had simply been ‘restating the position in our manifesto from 2017’, and stated he didn’t think there would ‘ever’ be a majority of MPs in support of bringing back fox hunting.
However, the hopeful PM remained coy in regards to his thoughts on the matter. When asked whether or not he believed fox hunting to be cruel, he gave the decidedly non-committal answer of, ‘[it’s] not my thing’.
Another Tory MP texts:
“How the f**k is fox hunting a priority right now!?!? By the weekend Hunt will have announced an urgent vote on other highly pressing issues like moving the chart show back to Sunday afternoons.”
— Alex Wickham (@alexwickham) July 3, 2019
According to data from the RSPCA website, there is actually very little evidence to support the notion that fox hunting is required to control animal populations.
Indeed, the RSPCA has gone as far as to describe the practice as being ‘almost insignificant’ when controlling fox populations.
Some hunts have reportedly even encouraged their local foxes populations to grow by constructing artificial earths and leaving food out to ensure enough animals are available for ‘sport’.
RSPCA Press Officer Ginny Reid told UNILAD:
Fox hunting is a barbaric and brutal practice that has no place in civilised society.
Repealing the Hunting Act would not only mean a return to cruelty but would fly in the face of the opinion of the majority of the general public as 84% of people say they are against legalising fox hunting.
FURIOUS!@Jeremy_Hunt wants to bring back fox hunting if he becomes PM because it’s “part of our heritage”
Sorry but I’m going to have to use my naughty language again:
— Dr Amir Khan GP (@DrAmirKhanGP) July 4, 2019
Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, told UNILAD:
The vast majority of the British public will be horrified by any attempt to revert back to the barbaric activity of fox hunting.
The Hunting Act needs to be strengthened, not repealed, as the hunts are currently still getting away with chasing and killing British wildlife.
Hunting needs to be consigned to the history books, and this decision shows quite how out of touch with public opinion Jeremy Hunt is.
Fox hunting is a brutal nasty activity in which the hounds literally tear apart the foxes – this should have no place in a modern compassionate society.
The last time a politician said we should bring back hunting – Theresa May in the 2017 General Election – they were punished in the polling booths. Nothing has changed.
As Jeremy Hunt pledges to legalise fox-hunting, it’s clear now that both candidates are simply trying to out-Tory each other. The worst part is that the vast majority of us are powerless spectators to this race to the bottom. Talk about scraping the barrel…
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) July 4, 2019
A 2018 survey conducted by the League Against Cruel Sports showed 85 per cent of the British public wanted to maintained the fox hunting ban, showing a significant rise from the 70 per cent recorded in 2008.
One would hope these crystal clear nationwide views would continue to be reflected in the House of Commons, meaning the next PM would be unable to push the bloodthirsty bill through.
In January 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May abandoned the Conservative party’s 2017 manifesto commitment to reinstate fox hunting, stating she had received a ‘clear message’ about just how unpopular this policy was.
It is baffling Mr Hunt would attempt to resurrect debate around this long-unwanted policy so soon after Mrs May quite rightly chose to abandon it.
Jeremy Hunt says he wants to bring back fox hunting. He is willing to support the abuse, torture & violent killing of these beautiful creatures to become Prime Minister. Humanity's true moral test consists of its attitude towards those at its mercy, animals. You failed Mr Hunt pic.twitter.com/BkyHpslXOu
— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) July 4, 2019
Fox hunting isn’t just cruel, it’s also something the majority of the British public disagree with. Mr Hunt has seriously misread the temperature of the people he hopes to lead and has demonstrated an alarmingly regressive attitude to animal welfare.
Our British past isn’t just afternoon tea, flowery novels and well-pruned gardens. We are a country who used to burn people at the stake for being witches. We were once totally cool with shoving children up chimneys or forcing them to toil in workhouses.
Such horrors are part of our history not our heritage. We need to learn from these shameful lapses in human judgement, not repeat them.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.