So, the Tories are foaming at their collective mouth once again. Their red, white and blue spittle is everywhere. No, not at the thought of cholera-infested workhouses for the poor or public floggings for the long-term unemployed, or even private G4S armies on the country estates of dukes and earls (all of which will be in their next manifesto), but because Theresa May has indicated she’d be perfectly happy to see the return of fox hunting.
Yes, the Toriest of Tory policies will make a blood-soaked return if Theresa May plays the 'patriotism card'. It’s often said that Britain, with its permanent past, faded glories and bloated, barely alive carcass of what remains of empire, lacks a culture of death; well, here is the perfect response. Thanks to the prime minister, death can now be celebrated in every countryside retreat in the land – but only as long as you’re in red and on horseback. Those aforementioned earls and dukes, for which it is always 1950 and where Britain is always England, will be so happy they might even break out the sherry long enough to stop themselves gazing wistfully at a painting of great uncle Rupert tearing after a fox back in the days long before those bloody socialists like Tony Blair stopped them having their fun.
Theresa May had promised a free vote on the issue, and as you know, Tory MPs have the killing of poor animals in their DNA. Just imagine: no more EU diktats, no more purple passports, and no more bans on activities such as galloping over merry England’s walls and fences and watching foxes being torn apart by hounds. This really is the stuff of Tory wet dreams. It’s not just 1950 in the minds of Tories; it’s 1832, 1747, or any other date that isn’t remotely anywhere near now.
The party of the permanent past love fox hunting. Obviously us mere ‘townies’ just don’t understand this noble rural pursuit. The ban in 2005 didn’t stop the green-wellied landowners from jumping in their Range Rovers and shooting game or deer, or setting traps for them, but clearly such stuff wasn’t as much fun. No, much better to meet in the village, gather the hounds (that are specially bred for such tasks), and ride on horses blowing into ridiculous bugles as the hunt for that damn fox is on. Then when it’s cornered, the hounds can tear it to bits and its head and tail can be taken as trophies. This is not tradition; it’s ritual as murderous stupidity.
Jennifer, 48, was seen with daughter Freya, 17, at the Mid-Devon's Boxing Day meet - advertised as a trail-hunt - in Chagford, Devon.Asked about the illegal chase claims, the French & Saunders' star said: "I don't break the law - we simply follow a scent."It's up to the police to enforce the law and I don't have a view on whether they do or don't."
But then the ruling class has never taken very well to being told what to do. Don’t the great unwashed masses understand how it works? We do the telling, not the other way round. If we want to watch a fox being torn to pieces, then so be it. Go on, try and stop us. But for now we’re much too busy smearing fox blood on each other’s faces. All part of the hunt, dear boy. Now get back to your council estate, peasant.
It’s the arrogance I can’t stand. The self-entitlement. This isn’t class envy, just a realisation that these people think they are so much better than the rest of us, that the ruling class is exactly that, and that we proles should learn our place and stop being so uppity. Read that sentence back. I know it might sound ridiculous, but we really have not travelled very far at all. The permanent past is always shoved in our faces by our ‘betters’.
There are some in the Conservative Party who oppose hunting, and who prevented chummy old David Cameron from bringing in a backdoor amendment to the Hunting Bill in 2015. So it’s not all Tory MP's we’re dealing with, but that’s hardly reassuring. And make no mistake, this is not a town vs countryside issue either. Many people in rural communities despise fox hunting as much as any urban dweller, and in that regard any attempts to repeal the ban will face a testing time in Parliament. But you can bet that the Countryside Alliance (a sort of tweed-wearing UKIP on speed) will be out in force demanding a return not only of fox hunting, but also hare coursing and stag hunting with dogs.
The Prince of Wales suggested that hunting was good for the welfare of foxes in a private letter urging Tony Blair to scrap plans to ban it. The letter was written as the Labour government prepared to outlaw the hunting of wild mammals with dogs. The prince described hunting as “romantic” and “environmentally friendly” and said that the campaign against it was driven by “antipathy to the type of person who [campaigners] think goes out hunting”. The letter was revealed after the Information Commissioner ruled it should be published after a request by the Mail on Sunday under the Freedom of Information Act.
But isn’t a hunting ban a form of state intervention in the affairs of rural England? And we all know that state intervention is bad thing in the minds of Tories. How dare the state tell the people of rural communities how to police their methods of vermin control? Who does the state think it is? Much better to allow the free hand of private enterprise in the form of barons and dukes and packs of badly treated hounds (not dogs) to run amok over miles and miles of land they consider theirs. Because England is always theirs. And merry olde England is always England, and it’s theirs to do with what they will. These people think going to church in their village somehow means they’re moral beings (because religious beliefs are apparently inseparable from moral certitude). Or so they think.
But then a party that supports a culture of death in other ways such as drone strikes and dangerous arms deals with murderous dictators who indiscriminately bomb neighbouring countries are not going to be moved by the plight of the fox if they’re not moved by the plight of dead and dying woman and children who’ve been blown to bits by the very weapons we flogged. A culture of death indeed.
Max Webster is the editor of Political Provocateur