For Fox Sake?

Let me declare a disinterest. As neither I nor any of my family hunt, shoot or fish the recent decisions in Parliament will have little immediate effect on our lives. I grew up in the country and now, after years in cities and suburbs, live in the country again. Like most country folk I dislike cruelty to animals but I do not subscribe to what I call ‘The Beatrix Potter School of Theology’ with its anthropomorphic romanticization of furry creatures. I am not a vegetarian and I understand the life-blood cost of my food. I have also seen the effects of a fox in a hen-house and have no qualms about their control. I was surprised therefore to find myself depressed and angered by the events in Westminster last month. I have been trying to work out why.

Perhaps it was on animal welfare grounds. The evidence from Scotland, where a ban on hunting has been in force for some time, makes grisly reading. Twice the number of foxes have been killed – chased out by dogs to be shot or wounded and savaged. Going to ground the fox can now be pursued into the earth and ripped by terriers. Cruelty has not been stopped but doubled.

Was it the fact that the legislation was pushed through by a politician, rejected by his own parliament, representing a department of state that has wreaked havoc in the countryside from the foot and mouth tragedy onwards? Certainly the mention of Alun Michael and DEFRA makes the gorge of any countryman rise.

Was it the fact that Parliament commissioned a huge and painstaking report (Burns) whose evidence they chose to ignore on the good old tabloid principle, ‘Never let the facts interfere with your prejudice’?

Was it the extraordinary and constitutionally dangerous abuse of the Parliament Act to railroad the legislation through? You don’t need to be an historian to be concerned about the implications of such precedents for the liberty of the subject.

Was it the ludicrous sight of middle class socialist lawyers raising the banner of class warfare against poorly paid agricultural workers who do not share their urban prejudices? Or maybe the wholly gratuitous provocation to civil disobedience which will inevitably flow from this decision.

No doubt all of these played a part in my exasperation. But there is worse. Parliament, the seat of our laws and democratic freedoms has been traduced. Regularly obliged to nod through rafts of legislation imposed on us by Europe without question, it has spent 700 hours debating the control of vermin. While the lives of our servicemen and millions of Iraqis do not merit this exhaustive parliamentary attention a change in the method of killing 500 foxes apparently does.

More pernicious yet is the contrast with innocent human life. With mounting evidence of gross illegalities in the abortion industry and the cruel and deliberate slaughter of 180,000 babies a year and the utter and disastrous failure of the libertarian project, Parliament cannot spare any time to reform the law and protect the innocent. Indeed euthanasia and more wholesale eugenics are in the legislative pipeline. To talk about cruelty to foxes in such circumstances is utter cant. Perhaps they should issue T-shirts that say, ‘Save the Fox – Kill the Foetus – Vote New Labour’

When Tony Blair scuffles into a Catholic church on the Feast of the Nativity, I don’t know what he will say to Jesus but his Government has already wished Herod a very happy Christmas.????


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