Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:
Earlier this year two organisations, Conservatives Against Fox Hunting and the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, were ordered by Conservative party Chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin “to withdraw their use of the party logo and limit their operations”. This came as a result of concerns raised about governance, structure and funding of these groups which are both solely owned by the same person, who also happens to be a Trustee of the League Against Cruel Sports.
Conservatives Against Fox Hunting has subsequently been forced to reveal that it received substantial funding from Network for Animals and LUSH Ltd. Network for Animals is a sister organisation of the Political Animal Lobby, which famously gave £1 million to the Labour Party before the 1997 General Election to secure a commitment to ban hunting, and it remains the party’s 9th biggest donor since 2010. Meanwhile LUSH founder Mark Constantine is a major donor to the Green Party and has bankrolled his local Police and Crime Commissioner’s campaigns against Conservative candidates.
Last week Councillor Christine Elmer, one of the only Conservative members to be publicly associated with the groups other than the owner and her husband, defected to the Liberal Democrats. Despite now being a Liberal Democrat Councillor, Christine Elmer Tweeted that she will be continuing to support the Conservatives Against Fox Hunting group and continues to list her support of the organisation on her Twitter profile.
The Countryside Alliance has no interest in party political issues, but this news does once again highlight that these supposedly ‘Conservative’ organisations are actually not very ‘Conservative’ at all. In fact the evidence is clear that they are ‘sock puppet’ groups run with the support of anti-Conservative elements in order to exaggerate support for the animal rights and anti-hunting agenda within the Conservative party.
We believe that those few Conservative MPs who remain publicly linked to the organisations: Roger Gale, David Amess, Caroline Dineage, Tracey Crouch, Dominic Raab and Henry Smith, should look very carefully at their ownership, governance and funding. This is not about their views on hunting and animal rights issues, which we can agree to disagree on, but about organisations which are actively misleading about the interests they represent. It is perfectly possible for MPs to express their views without doing so through deeply dubious organisations involved in animal rights entryism.
In March, Director of Conservatives Against Fox Hunting (CAFH) and the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (CAWF) finally revealed the identity of the animal rights organisations which have been donating thousands of pounds to her groups over the past few years. Find out who made financial contributions.