In addition to being a practicing QC, Edward Garnier is of course the MP for Market Harborough, which is as close as it gets to the heart of fox-hunting country on earth. He is also the Chairman of the Countryside Alliance’s Repeal Committee, and on April 7th he got a good airing on the BBC Today programme.
In his usual measured and reasonable tones, he pointed out that the Hunting Act is “unfair and unworkable”, citing a recent High Court judgement — which upheld an appeal from the first huntsman to be convicted of breaching the Act. “This is a bad law — it is unclear, it is unfair and it is inept,” he says. And he expects the next Conservative government to fulfil its pledge to hold a free vote on repeal, in government time.
Edward Garnier is right. Despite the fulminations of the man from the quaintly-named League Against Cruel Sports, who argued that repeal was “turning the clock back” and was “a return to cruelty”, the fact remains that hunting with hounds is the most humane culling method available. It is the only culling method that is guaranteed never to leave an injured fox to a slow death. It is also the only culling method that preferentially takes out old, weak or diseased animals, thus promoting the general health and fitness of the fox population.
I once had a rabid animal rights lunatic demand to know how I thought fox-hounds were supposed to tell the difference between a young fit fox and an old sick fox. Short answer: Young fit foxes run faster.
Far from “turning the clock back”, repeal will be an assertion and a celebration of English culture and tradition, which we lose sight of at our peril. There is little point in Gordon Brown agonising over the meaning of Britishness while we destroy the great cultural institutions at the heart of our identity. There are many positive things to say about the East Midlands region which it has been my privilege to represent for ten years. The fact that it is the heart and soul of English fox-hunting is one of its proudest boasts.