Anyone that follows the Countryside Alliance on any social media or receives their magazine, would be overwhelmed by the amount of pictures of local hunts getting underway on Boxing Day. Many of these pictures feature resplendent countryside with man and beast galloping across it, following a pack of hounds. No finer sight of British heritage and tradition can be found, except perhaps in Her Majesty.
There is something utterly enticing about the familiarity of a shared sense of culture and history. Of roots spanning back hundreds of years and a real sense of community and belonging. That is why every year on Boxing Day, when local hunts meet up and down Great Britain, members of the local community come in their droves to watch their local hunt get under way. Whether they are taking part, often wearing glorious red jackets when a member has won the hunts ‘colours’, or just having come with along to see the beautiful hounds which are so wonderfully social, people from all walks of life and of all ages can be found there on that day lining the streets.
Is then any wonder why then, since the Hunting Act 2004 was passed which outlawed the hunting of foxes with a pack of hounds, that hunts have reported not only a retention of membership, but also an increase? The Countryside Alliance reported in 2015 that hunt membership has increased by 45,000 with those turning out to watch, in the hundreds of thousands. And rightly so. The Hunting Act 2004 is an awful piece of legislation which NOT ONLY doesn’t work, BUT has looked to destroy a rural way of life. All too often we experience a metropolitan liberal elite dictating to the wider country on how they should live their lives. If something doesn’t suit their sensibilities, it is legislated against and outlawed. Little consideration is given to the effects it might have on people, as long as it makes for good reading in The Guardian over breakfast.
Yet when one looks at the list of MP’s whom are against repealing the Hunting Act 2004, we find that the majority of them are city or large town dwellers with little knowledge of the countryside. To them, Charlie is a cute red fluffy creature being unfairly hunted who never did anyone any harm. Rarely do they see the carnage that a fox unleashes, when it enters into a hen house and kills all of the birds within, taking only one but often none. Rarely do they have to deal with the traumatic experience of stumbling across a slaughtered lamb which has just been left to rot. But so what you might ask? It’s just nature, you might add? What about the farmer whose livelihood has just been decimated? Who knows that the local hunt provides an effective way of managing the local fox population, of which has no natural predator? Thanks to Tony Blair’s government, this has become a regular occurrence in the decade since, leaving those at the making their living off the land without an effective means to protect their livelihood against this infamous predator. Government should leave the running of the countryside to those that live and work in the countryside.
However this is part of a worrying trend. Great Britain has a long and established tradition where the rights of the private individual are sacred. The ban on fox hunting is not only unworkable and has had a negative effect on rural communities, but is another in a long line of legislation both before and after, where the private individual’s right are infringed. Great Britain is swiftly becoming a country where big government tells you how to live your life and what is best for you and your community. Whether that’s the smoking ban, minimum unit pricing for alcohol, firearms restrictions or the proposed sugar and salt taxes, personal responsibility is absolved as Big Brother will now tell you what to do. One no longer needs to think of what is best for them, as that comes down from on high.
Whilst it might only be a small victory, repealing the fox hunting ban is the first step to restoring the primacy of the individual and a roll back of big government. It allows those that know the countryside, that live and work in it, to manage it as they best see fit. It is a step towards restoring personal responsibility whether that is for one’s environment or livelihood.