Op-Ed: People power has won the day with a little help from Labour and SNP MP's. The Tories have withdrawn the free vote on hunting after the SNP said it would vote with Labour to #keeptheban.
Tuesday UK PM David Cameron turned tail when it became clear the Tories could not win a free vote to "water down the ban" scheduled for this week.
A series of polls have also shown that the majority of people in the UK want to maintain the hunting act or even strengthen it.
Arguments that 'townies' do not understand the hunting issues do not wash; it has nothing to do with rural against urban but everything to do with stopping animal cruelty and banning so-called 'sports' that are cruel.
But the battle is won maybe not the war
As we wrote earlier today The Tories will take the long view-they have five years in office.
The Tories will now wait until they have closed all loopholes including implementing legislation which will prevent the SNP voting on legislation affecting England.
Can they pull that one off though?
As the Tories have revealed more about their plan for English only votes, aptly called EVEL, the SNP must have realised the only real winner from such a measure will be the Tory government.
In the run up to the 2015 General Election the Tories spun the SNP from north of the border as a potential threat to English democracy and the spin worked.
The Labour Party was and still is between a rock and a hard place. But they will have to be brave and bold and accept that the SNP can be an ally in the Commons during the next five years.
In fighting and fighting between the two parties will be destructive and play into Tory hands.
The SNP Tuesday gave the #keeptheban campaign in parliament and on the streets an edge and we should all be thankful for that; way past the time to bury past differences and join forces against the Tories.
Related at NEWTEKNEWS
SNP hunting vote about face
Dr Brian May leads Westminster hunting protest
Opting to hold the hunting act vote one-week later has taken some of the heat away from the Tories and their divisive budget.
But will it be plain sailing for those in parliament supporting a change in the hunting act?
Kudos to the SNP
Tuesday the SNP, Scottish Nationalist Party, has pricked the Tory hunting bubble but is it enough to cause a pop or just deflation?
Angus Robertson, the leader of the SNP group of MPs sitting at Westminster, has said its members will vote against attempts to relax the ban on fox hunting in England and Wales.
The reason given is "to send a message to the Conservative government about the narrowness of its majority."
While the reason should be purely about stopping animal cruelty supporters of the hunting ban will not be complaining; desperate times need desperate measures. Robertson continued:
"We totally oppose fox hunting, and when there are moves in the Scottish Parliament to review whether the existing Scottish ban is strong enough, it is in the Scottish interest to maintain the existing ban in England and Wales for Holyrood to consider. There has been an overwhelming demand from people in England for the SNP to vote on this issue this weekNicola Sturgeon, First Minister "We are in a situation where the Tory government are refusing to agree to any amendments to improve the Scotland Bill - which are supported by 58 of Scotland's 59 MPs - and imposing English Votes for English Laws to make Scotland's representation at Westminster second class.
That last statement highlights the SNP in some ways are politicising the hunting debate.
But a Labour Party with its roots in the left-wing of politics should be happy to vote against welfare cuts.
The truth is though that the SNP are sitting pretty after election success north of the border. Unless they decide to field candidates south of the border in England our best vote to beat the Tories and their policies is Labour.
Labour however are trying to win back core voters while offering mass appeal and that has meant they are considering how to send out a message that they would be strong on the economy in government but compassionate.
The current state of 'hunting' play UK
Traditional fox hunting with dogs is illegal across Britain. However, hunts in England and Wales are able to flush out foxes for pest control purposes, using only two dogs - as long as the foxes are shot as quickly as possible. In Scotland an unlimited number of dogs can be used for this purpose.
The rules are being broken across England too often already but do we want a return to the cruel 'sport'of fox hunting?
A PETA representative took Sky TV News front man Dermot Murnaghan on Tuesday and won hands down. In the end he was left looking as if he was trying to spin animal cruelty as a positive.
English votes, EVEL, and the long road ahead
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has had a re-think on the hunting ban in England. "In February, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon identified fox hunting as the sort of English-only issue her party's MPs would not vote on."
But as the Tories have revealed more about their plan for English only votes, aptly called EVEL, the SNP must have realised the only real winner from such a measure will be the Tory government. She gave the BBC three reasons for her about-face:
There has been an overwhelming demand from people in England for the SNP to vote on this issue this week.
The Tories want to repeal the hunting act so do not expect them to give in at the first hurdle. They have five years in office.
They may return to this issue time and time again or even postpone the vote until the SNP is restricted in law against voting on English matters.
They may even use the hunting issue as a distraction when it suits.
Make no assumptions about Cameron’s Tory government. They expect to win in 2020 after a series of political wins over five years.
That is if you help them along the way. The future is up to you and that includes the future of wildlife in the UK.
Tories withdraw vote
In a rollercoaster day the Tories withdrew the vote at the 11th hour in view of its imminent defeat.
More here - Tory government shelves fox hunting vote
Daily Mirror - Fox hunting vote countdown: Everything you can do to stop Tories bringing back vile cruelty
Overturning the hunting ban was one of the Tory's election promises to win back votes especially from the pro-hunt groups and as he is a hunting fan has personal appeal to PM Cameron.
May appeared briefly on the show to talk about the hunting ban and it was briefly. I just caught a sideways glance Neil gave to the two politicians also appearing Michael Portillo and Alastair Campbell as May stepped into the limelight. It was a slight but telling glance.
Portillo as a former Tory MP is obviously an advocate of fox hunting but his view last night was that it was an English tradition worth keeping.
Michael Portillo's attempt to justify fox hunting as a tradition worth protecting left me wondering if that means he would be an advocate of the Yulin annual dog eating festival which is a 'tradition' in one part of China; as BBC reports "He clashed with former Conservative MP Michael Portillo, who said he would vote to repeal the ban if he could because he doesn't want to "extinguish a nation's culture"."
But it is not my culture, even though I am English born and bred, and many English people will agree with me
He was allowed to gloss over the cruelty aspects of hunting and used the hunting brigade's terminology that foxes are vermin.
Foxes in fact help keep the numbers of true vermin down, such as rats and mice. More often than not if you find a person calling foxes vermin that person is a member of the hunting set.
One online dictionary defines vermin as "noxious, objectionable, or disgusting animals collectively, especially those of small size that appear commonly and are difficult to control, as flies, lice, bedbugs, cockroaches, mice, and rats" which hardly fits a fox.
It does however also two other definitions:
As soon as Dr May challenged the assumption that foxes are vermin the knives were out and the time ran out. May was dismissed and the credits rolled and he too looked rather baffled.
The point is the hunting issue he was appearing to discuss was pushed into an inappropriate time-slot showing there was never a serious attempt to include it in the show but rather to ridicule it.
Write to your political representative - You can write to your MP by email or letter and ask how he or she will vote ensuring they know your opinion. Follow the link to use an online service to contact your MP or go it alone; if you are not sure who your MP is, simply search via google and your postcode. MP's usually have contact and email addresses displayed online.
Make sure you are vocal regarding your support of the hunting act online and in the 'real world'. Make sure friends and family know the act is under threat and inspire them to take action. Forward planning is essential to protect the hunting act.
Monday May 25 one action group is holding a tweetstorm aimed at getting the message out. 'Join our tweet storm #NoMandate2Repeal this Monday from 8pm. Tell Cameron no to repeal.'
Will you join us?
But could the 15 year old Freedom of Information Act, a piece of Labour legislation, also be under threat and ultimately scrapped? Without the FOI act Charles' meddling in a 'democratic' government would go on unnoticed.
In March we began our report saying "Let's start with a poll. Hands up all those who believe that there is Freedom of Information in the UK some of the time, all of the time, none of the time or that it depends who is involved. Yes the last one is probably the most appropriate, especially when Members of the British Royal Family are involved. In October 2012 we reported "Access to Prince Charles letters blocked" as claims that he was more active in British politics than previously known hit headlines.
An ongoing argument in the UK in particular about whether letters Prince Charles, heir to the throne, had sent to UK Ministers should be made public or not ensued; a battle Royal, pun intended, over what should be released and what should remain hidden from the eyes of we Plebs. Seven government departments fought a last ditch attempt to ensure that at least parts of this correspondence remained buried away from public eyes. Now why do you suppose they would want to do that?
You can read our full report here - Supreme Court Prince Charles blocked letters ruling
December 2015 Guardian update: Revealed: Prince Charles has received confidential cabinet papers for decades
Related reading re fox hunting:
Democracy? What democracy? Tories ride rough shod over us all
Petition to Prime Minister of UK and Leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron MP - Keep the Ban on Fox Hunting