Photo credit: Mark Webb
South Kesteven District Council in Lincolnshire yesterday rejected another in a line of petty motions attempting to ban hunts from council owned land. In this instance the target was the Belvoir Hunt’s Boxing Day meet in Grantham which is enjoyed by hundreds of local people every year.
We are obviously grateful to councillors for standing firm against this vindictive motion, but it is worrying that a number of them were so frightened of the consequences of voting against it because of threats to members and the actions of anti-hunt activists protesting at the home of another local politician in Grantham last year, that the vote had to be held in secret.
Sadly many of us will not be particularly surprised that anti-hunt activists threatened public servants over the continuance of a legal activity, because in some ways we have become immune to even the most extreme behaviour of the animal rights movement. In the absence of logic or evidence with which to pursue its arguments the anti-hunt movement has always resorted to bullying, abuse and intimidation both in person and increasingly online.
The comparison with the bizarre goings on in Parliament this week is also worth making. The outrage from MPs on both sides of the Brexit argument about bullying and insults looks particularly odd when it comes from people who have done little to address similar behaviour aimed at other groups, or in some cases have even been party to it.
I clearly remember the shock amongst some Conservative MPs about masked protestors hounding delegates outside the Conservative conference in Manchester (where the Alliance team will be again next week) a couple of years ago. Those MPs went quiet when we pointed out that this was exactly the behaviour, in some cases carried out by the same people, that the rural community had been asking them to address for years. There is no convincing answer as to why it is acceptable for protestors to dress like an IRA tribute act and hurl abuse at people who hunt or shoot in the countryside, but unacceptable to do the same thing to people attending a political conference in a city centre.
Equally it is difficult to feel too sorry for Labour MPs complaining about aggressive language when they seem to believe it is perfectly acceptable to describe a significant minority of rural people as ‘vile’, ‘scum’, ‘thugs’, ‘perverts’ or whatever else the insult of the day MPs and activists are aiming at hunts.
The animal rights movement has long believed that almost any behaviour is acceptable in pursuit of the ‘cause’ it supports, and that almost nothing is acceptable in opposing it. Those on both sides of the Brexit debate seemed to have picked up that baton.
Returning to the council vote it was important that many of our supporters in the district lobbied their councillors to oppose the motion, just as many of you in Essex did to defeat a similar motion earlier in the year. We will remain vigilant in addressing other such motions and have set up a lobby which allows everyone to contact the leaders of their local councils in advance of Boxing Day and New Years Day meets.
Please take a moment to take part in the lobby wherever in the country you live.