This Monday 6th July, Network for Animals collaborated in a Team Fox parliamentary briefing for Labour MPs on the fight against hunting. As with our successful briefing with Conservative MPs last week, the aim was for Labour MPs to learn about the work we and our supporters are doing, and to reach out for parliamentary support in stopping the repeal of the Hunting Act when it goes to a free vote in the House of Commons.
Unsurprisingly, given their track record on animal welfare issues, there was a great turn out of Labour MPs, headed up by Angela Smith MP, who has been very vocal about her commitment to keeping the Hunting Act in place. With only one notable exception, Kate Hoey, every Labour MP is against the repeal, which is wonderful news. Angela Smith keenly advised her colleagues that to win, they all have to turn up and vote when the time comes. Given the English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) debates in parliament this week, which may result in the SNP being unable to vote against the repeal, Angela’s message to her fellow MPs is all the more important.
Dr Brian May spoke to the MPs about the poor excuses the pro-hunting lobby use for wanting a repeal: That hunting is merely a form of wildlife management and that it is part of countryside tradition, echoing his comments to Michael Portillo last week.
Kirsten Anderson from Network for Animals emphasised to the MPs how important it was to eradicate the notion put forward by many in the pro-hunting lobby, that opposition to hunting with hounds is a class issue. None of us who are against this cruel bloodsport have anything other than animal welfare in mind as we fight to save the Hunting Act.
In agreement, Dr May expressed how happy he was that so many Conservative MPs are now speaking out against hunting, and Angela Smith echoed these sentiments by saying it was “absolutely not a class issue”, and that we are all working together, across parties and backgrounds, to stop animal cruelty.
Footage filmed by anti-hunt campaigners over the years, and indeed very recently, has highlighted the issue of hunts manipulating fox numbers to ensure that hunts have access to foxes when required on a hunt day. This demonstrates hunting enthusiasts’ unforgivable enjoyment of defenceless animals being ripped apart by hounds. Given that the humane alternative of Drag Hunting offers all of the tradition with none of the cruelty (hounds following an artificial scent, and ignore any wildlife they happen to come across during the event), it is ridiculous for the pro-hunting lobby to suggest that the Hunting Act is denying them the tradition of anything other than barbaric cruelty.
Network for Animals feel a tangible air of optimism amongst animal lovers, crossing party divides in Westminster, and have high hopes that the repeal will be unsuccessful. That said, we mustn’t become complacent, and urge our supporters to continue writing to MPs, urging them to vote against the repeal when the time comes. Our supporters’ emails have already made many MPs take notice: Let’s make sure they are ALL paying attention!