We only have 5 days to go until David Cameron’s proposed amendments to the Hunting Act are debated for just 90 minutes in parliament before going to a vote.
He knew he would lose if he tried to put a repeal of the Act to a free vote in the House of Commons. After all, 80% of the population is opposed to hunting. Even some Tory MPs have bravely spoken out against Cameron’s plans. He doesn’t care though and he is attempting to get his way by employing underhand tactics instead. None of us are surprised, given his track record.
Cameron also knows that he needs the SNP to abstain on Wednesday if he wants his plan to be successful. There are 56 SNP MPs in Westminster now and they are a powerful force against Cameron.
Much has been made of the fact that he is merely making amendments to the law to bring them into line with Scottish ones. If that is the case, say pro-hunting supporters, then how can the SNP possibly vote against him? Even some members of the general public are asking this, which is just what Cameron was hoping for.
However whilst Cameron’s amendments will allow unlimited hounds to be used when flushing out foxes, as is the case in Scotland, he is is also making amendments to the Act which don’t exist in Scotland. One such amendment is to use unlimited hounds to flush out foxes to conduct “research and observation” in the area. That is a category that is clearly open to abuse, as hunters could argue that they weren’t hunting for fun (which they are) but rather to research the number of diseased foxes in the area.
The SNP has every right to vote with their consciences on Wednesday, and argue that Cameron’s amendments are not bringing English and Welsh laws into line with Scottish legislation. Moreover, now that they are the majority party in Scotland, they must call his bluff and move to amend their hunting laws.
Cameron is trying to manipulate the SNP but this is in fact a great political opportunity that he is handing them on a plate. They can destroy his plans on Wednesday, and save the Hunting Act. They can also show the UK, and indeed the rest of the world that they are a progressive and compassionate party who wish to improve their country’s animal welfare legislation.
Please sign our petition to urge Nicola Sturgeon to call Cameron’s bluff, and move to amend Scottish hunting legislation.