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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Why are Tories making fox hunting an election issue?

The Telegraph reports that the Conservatives will try to lift the fox hunting ban if the party wins May’s general election. They say that the party will offer a free vote in the next Parliament to legalise hunting if the party wins in May:

The Hunting Act 2004, which prohibits the pursuit with hounds of various wild mammals in England and Wales, came into force under Labour in February 2005. The pursuit of foxes with hounds was banned in Scotland in 2003.

Simon Hart, a Tory MP and chief executive of the Countryside Alliance between 2004 and 2010, said: “All the indications are that a commitment will be just as robust as it always has been and there is no reason to believe any changes are intended or planned.”

The wording is likely to be the same as the 2010 party manifesto, which said: “The Hunting Act has proved unworkable. A Conservative government will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the hunting act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time.” 

The dangers for the Tories of taking the course of action are obvious. As the paper says Labour has sought to use the hunting issue to portray the Conservatives, and the Prime Minister personally, as preoccupied with the concerns of a privileged elite, and out of touch with wider public opinion.

In addition, Lynton Crosby, Mr Cameron’s election adviser, is said to have warned ministers in the past that raising the hunting issue would be a damaging distraction from the party’s core election message, which focuses on the economy, welfare and immigration.

What exactly they are trying to achieve by raising this issue again and so close to the election is difficult to see. Hunting is an issue that will polarise voters against the Tories and swing floating voters away from them. Bring it on I say.
According to the Spectator it's to keep "mercenary" volunteers - and possibly core voters...

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