In reply to Matt Fincham's letter (October 23), listening to the National Farmers' Union and the Countryside Alliance, you could be forgiven for believing that the only people who live in the countryside are hunters and farmers.
In fact, they are around 10 million people living in rural England, defined as settlements with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants. Of these 140,000 are farmers, or the business partners, directors and spouses of farmers. In other words, they make up about 1.4% of the rural population and that's just 0.3% of the total population.
It is estimated that between 500 and 1000 people nationally are involved in the cruel and bitter sharp edge of hunting; that is digging out foxes, interfering with badger setts, pushing terriers down earths and digging out foxes that have gone to ground. All the other people are either looking on from horseback or viewing from their vehicles or by the side of the fields. So to say that hunting is crucial part of country life is only true for less than 1% of the rural population if we include all the riders and supporters. Yet rural policy which includes the daft badger cull and the repeal of the Hunting Act seems to be geared solely to this tiny minority's needs. It's not enough that taxpayers give farmers and landowners, who are the wealthiest people in Britain, around £3.6bn a year in the form of agricultural subsidies. But also under this Tory-led coalition Government the landowners are permitted to decide how and for whom the countryside is run with 99% of rural people being marginalised. The Countryside Alliance shout the loudest and claim to be the voice of the countryside, but the vast majority of rural dwellers that live and enjoy the countryside play no part in blood sports and farming. It seems that the tiny minority have hi-jacked the voice and views of the rural majority and hunting, shooting and of course this badger cull will be forced down our throats!
Hunting has become politically polarised with many Conservative activists hunting or have ties with hunters and VoteOK is an organisation than is manned by the hunting fraternity to help elect pro-hunt MPs in the marginal seats. The Countryside Alliance is a political pressure group. The previous Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance Chief Executive, Simon Hart is now the Conservative MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire. The current Chief Executive of the Country Alliance is Lieutenant General Barney White-Spunner, an Old Etonian and former head of the UK Field Army. I think all your readers know what the Countryside Alliance is all about, but I would add that for the up and coming Police and Crime Commissioner elections, hunts are reminding their members to vote as again the way the police operate with this rural minority is of great interest to them and they may wish to have some control on this issue. Again we have this small minority dictating.