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Philip Bowern: David Cameron can't afford to risk hunt vote

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 19, 2014

By Philip Bowern, WMN Farming and Rural Affairs Editor, Twitter: @wmorningnewsman

Philip Bowern

Philip Bowern

Comments (5)

The Conservative Party neglects the views of pro-hunting voters at its peril.

David Cameron, as a former huntsman, deer stalker and occasional game shooter, ought to know better than most that those who take part in country sports consider hunting in particular to be a way of life, rather than a casual pastime.

The fact that hunting has flourished under the 2004 ban is proof that hunts up and down the country are not giving up on hopes of a repeal. Most are marking time, hunting under the restrictions imposed, until full hunting is restored.

In Mr Cameron’s favour, of course, is that no one but the Conservatives are likely to bring about that change in the law. But complacency could cost him dear and lose him 500,000 crucial votes in rural constituencies that he must win.

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If he decides – or is advised – that hunting is best left off the political agenda when he is drawing up the next Tory manifesto because more people find it distasteful than want it restored, he is making a big mistake. He will anger more voters than he will please. For most voters, hunting is not a central issue. For the hunt community it is number one.

Pro-hunt supporters already feel let down because the PM failed to put a vote on repeal to Parliament this term. They grudgingly accept that, as things stand, the numbers don’t stack up. But if hunting isn’t in the Tory manifesto, many will switch to Ukip.

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5 comments

  • groundnut  |  August 22 2014, 11:52AM

    I think the copied extract from this Newspaper article sums it all up. And it is sad that with so many conflicts and problems globally which involve the UK. Not to mention health, education, immigration and the economy. That any repeal of the Fox Hunting legislation should even get a mention in the small print. Looks like to me that whoever is elected to Govern UK next year and in whatever form of Coalition, will have their hands full keeping UK plc on track for all- not just a single minded minority. Time perhaps to debate a cut in the CAP that will certainly change priorities in the Countryside for some Foxhunters. l______________________________l "For most voters, hunting is not a central issue. For the hunt community it is number one."

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  • eponym1  |  August 19 2014, 7:54PM

    Two points that Philip Bowern seems to have overlooked - (i) of the "500,000 crucial votes in rural constituencies" I would be very surprised if more than 250,000 voters support repeal of the Hunting Act given the rapidly changing demographics of rural England (the Countryside Alliance only has 100k members) and (ii) the negative impact on support from the much, much larger number of urban voters who are more likely to be vocal supporters of the act.

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  • M3GHQ  |  August 19 2014, 11:59AM

    typical veiled threat,here is an idea lets bring back otter hunting and make badger baiting legal while we are at it

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  • Free2opine  |  August 19 2014, 11:45AM

    I have seen more injured foxes since drag hunting has started taking place in my particular area of Devon. Most of them appear to have bullet injuries to their legs. People (not hunters) appear to be taking pot shots at them, to clear them away from their ?chickens? I assume. They would suffer less if the hunting was resumed. ......and Philip, I think you will find that the Tories are already losing votes right. left and centre, owing to more mundane things such as immigration, the EU and all the nonsense that brings with it, single people feeling aggrieved by Cameron's belittling them, when making a statement on aiding families. in Their failure to support the countryside in general. Need I go on!? Their supporters are leaving in droves. Mind you Labour appears to be suffering the same fate, as do the Lib Dems.

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  • greyjaybee  |  August 19 2014, 10:32AM

    'The fact that hunting has flourished under the 2004 ban is proof that hunts up and down the country are not giving up on hopes of a repeal. Most are marking time, hunting under the restrictions imposed, until full hunting is restored.' Really....nothing to do with the fact then that those participating in this vile practice consider themselves to be above the Law of the land. The Hunting Act requires strengthening so it can be properly implemented and so end the needless cruelty inflicted upon OUR wildlife.......and dream on if you want a repeal.

    |   -9

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