Rod Liddle

Let’s set the cops on barbaric fox-hunters

Cameron should tighten up the hunting ban, rather than repeal it

23 May 2015

9:00 AM

23 May 2015

9:00 AM

Among those deeply disappointed with the Conservative party’s victory on 7 May was Britain’s diverse and vibrant community of wild animals. They have not yet daubed anti-Tory slogans on war memorials or marched through city centres screaming that they are not going to take it any more — and still less written vacuous and hyperbolic tirades for the Guardian. But they are deeply worried and consider themselves vulnerable to the assaults from a Conservative government untrammelled by the moderating influence of those sentimentalists the Lib Dems.

And so badgers are stocking up on gas masks and the foxes are doing their callisthenics, so as to outpace some psychopathic fat toff on a wheezing mare, and bulk–buying aniseed spray to befuddle the hounds. Others — such as hen harriers — appear to have given up the ghost altogether and have plumped for extinction as the only viable option. Their fears are entirely justified: the Conservatives have a truly shocking record on conservation.

Given the opportunity, the party will side with any and every lobby group which wishes to exterminate or persecute wild animals, either for reasons of money, or because they are in our way, or just for the sheer hell of it, the fun.

Already the first salvos have been fired against the wildlife. Sir Ian Botham, a Tory and former cricketer, has sprung to the ‘defence’ of Britain’s very few remaining hen harriers and lambasted the RSPB for not doing more to protect them. The charity is useless, Beefy fumed — far better to entrust the hen harriers’ survival to the, uh, gamekeepers. Yes, Botham is part of the shooting lobby and probably cares less about hen harriers than I do about batting averages or whether or not some foreign cricketer called Kevin Pietersen is a ‘complete cunt’. Entrusting the future of this beautiful bird of prey to the gamekeepers is akin to entrusting the security of your chicken coop to an organisation named ‘Reynard, Tod and Associates’. Only the farmers have wreaked more havoc on endangered wildlife than the gamekeepers. Round my way gamekeepers shoot any and every bird of prey they clap their nasty little eyes on — buzzards, goshawks, sparrow-hawks — you name it, they’ll shoot or poison it. All supposedly to preserve the stocks of educationally challenged pheasants (although buzzards dine almost exclusively on rabbit, and sparrowhawks on small songbirds, and there are too few goshawks to make any difference either way).


But it is the foxes who are really frit. Some months before the election the Prime Minister insisted that the ban on fox-hunting would be subjected to a free vote in the House of Commons, given a Conservative victory. And the hunters are thus elated. I have been debating with them on a social media site and I can tell you, their arguments are exquisitely vapid, contradictory and sort of non sequitur. There’s no thrill in ripping a fox to bits, they say. The foxes actually enjoy the thrill of the chase! It’s all necessary to keep ‘vermin’ under control. And also hardly any foxes are killed. The hunting ban cost loads of jobs and hurt the rural economy. And anyway, since the ban even more people have joined the hunts and business is booming, so the ban must have failed!

And they spew out this rubbish with a straight face. It all reminds me of the Sigmund Freud story about the man who borrowed a kettle from his neighbour and returned it broken. ‘But I never borrowed it from you,’ the neighbour complains. And then: ‘Also, it was broken when I borrowed it.’ And ‘It wasn’t broken when I gave it back.’ The kettle logic of the hunting fraternity.

If David Cameron was savvy — and I am beginning to believe he certainly is savvy — instead of repealing the ban, or offering a free vote, he’ll tighten it up. While there have been prosecutions since the ban was introduced, there are too many loopholes in the law. Stop all this stuff about hunts being allowed to rip a fox to bits if they stumble across it ‘accidentally’, for a start. And order the Old Bill to enforce the law properly instead of leaving it to the RSPCA. How many other laws are enforced solely by voluntary bodies?

According to a whole bunch of reports since the ban came into effect in 2005, there has been no increase in the fox population — which immediately contradicts the ‘vermin control’ arguments and also those which suggested that imposing the ban would be like opening the doors at Sangatte — we’ll be overrun, swamped by jubilant, crowing foxes! The same reports suggest that no jobs have been lost whatsoever — that was all hyperbolic lies. The number of jobs directly reliant upon fox-hunting was in any case minuscule — something in the region of 750 nationally. More to the point there has been a large net rise, year on year, of people joining and taking part in hunts. The Burns Commission put this at 11 per cent — with more than a third of hunts reporting a large increase in followers or participants. So that’s the ‘job losses — rural economy destroyed’ argument rendered null and void, I would suggest. No economic hardship whatsoever has been occasioned by the hunting ban: and if business is now thriving, why change it back to the way it was?

The only sensible argument against the fox-hunting ban was the simple libertarian point: ‘We enjoy doing it, why should you stop us?’ Fair enough, I understand the principles and the logic behind that entreaty. It does not quite do it for me, but it is a salient argument. The answer, I would suggest, is that as a nation we have thought better of it, we shrink away from hunting’s easy barbarity. And according to the latest opinion poll, 75 per cent of the electorate agree with me about that.

Stick with the 75 per cent, Mr Cameron. And be the leader of a Conservative party which seeks to conserve rather than destroy; be soft-Green — humane and kindly towards our wildlife, even if they don’t have a vote.

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Show comments
  • Mow_the_Grass

    Good article Mr Liddle.
    Wild species throughout the world are under extreme pressure.
    Between poaching and legal ‘canned’ hunts – many of africa’s magnificent animals ie rhino could be extinct within a matter of years.
    Man as become adept at killing animals which takes very little skill or expertise given modern weapon technology.
    Any fat f**ker can be driven (not walk or track) to within rifle range of lion/jaguar/rhino/giraffe etc – and destroy a creature.
    Your fat pi*ps in the UK, wearing stupid red blazers and blowing trumpets are the same type of small d*ck poseurs.
    If they had any real guts – they’d strip down to basics – and track the fox barefoot using a bow and arrow.
    That would even out the odds a bit.
    Pathetic.

    • Malcolm Stevas

      If you had any real guts you’d go to a Hunt Ball and announce this tripe.

      • Mow_the_Grass

        LMAO
        Listen pal where I live we dont have little social niceties like – ‘Hunt Ball’ which celebrate idiots on horseback chasing down little creatures with dog packs – and then calling it a nice sunday outing and patting each other on the back
        What we do have where i live is hunting down people who are trying to kill us – and who fire back.
        Now that’s big boys ‘Hunt Ball’ type stuff.
        As regards ‘guts’ – fronting up to you and your type would be like a walk in the park.
        Greetings from Israel.

        • Frank

          Great video of your friends beating up an unarmed boy the other day.
          As for “hunting down people who are trying to kill you”, fighting the average Palestinian terrorist is hardly world war three.
          Perhaps if you had hunt balls and invited all the locals to participate in your society, you would have less aggro!

          • Mow_the_Grass

            You first ‘pal/ette’
            ’48/56/67/73/first/second lebonon war.
            Read some history uneducated peasant

          • vieuxceps2

            Israelis are infamous for their lack of manners, but even so you stand out.Have you a BA in it? Bombastic Arsehole perhaps?

          • Mow_the_Grass

            Bif/Bam – is that it.
            LOL.
            What we might ‘lack of manners’ – we make up for it in so many other ways.
            And btw – manners according to whom – some lil putz with a faux frog handle

          • vieuxceps2

            Come on now,you Israelis can be more offensive if you try harder.Ask the Gazans.

          • Frank

            So you don’t like being criticised, but you are happy to criticise other countries.
            Secondly, yes your country has had lots of little wars with Lebanon, they still don’t count as world wars.
            Thirdly, I suspect that I am considerably better educated than you and can indeed spell the name of Lebanon

          • Mow_the_Grass

            Doubt it
            Speak/understand four languages one of them English.
            How about you lil ‘english’

          • Frank

            English, French, Italian, Spanish and German. Now do be a good little boy and pi** off.

          • Mow_the_Grass

            Lech l’hisdyn briti matoomtam – and greetings

        • Tom M

          If you live in Israel then you have my sympathy.
          However this is the UK we are talking about and if some group of people want to get on horses and chase foxes all over the county then I have no problem with that. You can do things like that when you aren’t at war with the neighbours (and that’s not a criticism either. I’m on Israel’s side).
          I cannot get this “ripping animals to bits” thing either. If it’s alright for David Attenborough to wander around Africa with a film crew entertaining us (and we are entertained) with footage of cheetahs catching and ripping antelopes to bits what is the difference?

          • Mow_the_Grass

            Don’t need nor do i ask for your ‘sympathy’
            Was born and brought up in South Africa where by and large an understanding of wildlife is incalcated in all of us.
            My original point is that hunting animals wherever is a one sided pastime practised by men in the small underpants department.
            My point remains – wanna be a big boy then go confront something that fires back.
            ps – feel the same way about immigrant ten pound poms who used to have sunday shooting/killing sprees with the aboriginal population in auz.
            At least arm the other participants.
            And by the by – our enemies are very well armed.

          • Roger Hudson

            Hunt and shoot the most dangerous animals in Africa, poachers with Kalashnikovs.

          • Mow_the_Grass

            Absolutely – they need to hunted down and eradicated on the spot.
            Un-fortunately this rhino killing is a well organised and funded operation with all sorts of people involved ie farmers/vets/local govt officials – all chasing the chinese yen.
            Need to bring down the entire network – not just the ones doing the killing and hacking

          • David

            Grow up

          • Mow_the_Grass

            Did that many years ago – sonny

          • Sean

            It is the critical difference between ourselves and the rest of the animal kingdom: we have reason, intelligence and the capacity for complex thinking. We are not – or should not be – beholden to our instinct in the same way. We have both a privilege *and* a duty to be better than that.

            I find watching carnivores at work extremely distressing but that, unfortunately, is the cruel mistress of nature. When I see it in my fellow man? I feel disgusted. Our treatment of animals has always been the most incredibly and unrepentantly foul. Why, in modern society, should we ever sit back and let it continue?

            (I am, as a point of fact, a vegetarian also)

          • Tom M

            I understand your point of view but be careful with that, what you are saying is you don’t agree with nature. That is dodgy territory.
            To me if you are going to kill foxes (and I believe that is a given) then does it matter if the fox is killed by a pack of dogs doing what comes natural to them or shot by the gamekeeper?
            Many years ago my house was infiltrated by rats no-one I know was in the slightest concerned when I regularly set the dogs on them. What’s the difference? It might be people generally don’t like rats but foxes can be quite attractive. So it might not be killing animals is wrong, just some animals.
            And by the way I’m also a vegetarian and have been so all my life.

        • Malcolm Stevas

          C’mon! You’re a filing clerk in the Tel Aviv Dep’t of Sanitation. Oy, vay…

          • Mow_the_Grass

            Not really – live down south in the arava

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Anti -semitic and pro hunting . Malcy you are a nasty piece of work.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Pompous ass! It should surprise no-one that you manage to construe my words as “anti-semitic”… Your English comprehension is as off the wall as your feelings about hunting.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Mazel tov.Oy vay!

        • Icebow

          Long live Israel.

          • Mow_the_Grass

            Toda raba/thankyou
            Am Yisrael Chai

      • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

        I used to protest outside hunt balls in Devon.I still have the scars to prove the violent reactions of the hunt tribe. I despise you all to this day, shallow bloody berks.

        • Malcolm Stevas

          Only scars? Pity.

          • mrs 1234

            Yvon and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves are really annoying… you have my sympathy whether I agree with you or not.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Thank you. They’re not very significant: just gormless bog-standard Lefty weirdos with terribly predictable cut & paste opinions.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            As opposed to a vacuous,grim little bigot with the casual arrogance of a Victorian millowner and the shameful beliefs of the corrupt and distrusted. You’re a nasty apologist for the vulgar and the unsupportable Malcy.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Actually I suspect you’re fictitious characters dreamed up by Private Eye, caricatures of Leftist wackos. No real person could be as dim and divorced from reality as your odd little schizoid monicker…

          • serge

            At this juncture, our first mention of the Nazis might be apposite.

    • Icebow

      Hunting with a bow is illegal, I think, though it might be surprisingly efficient.

    • Marcus

      You are confusing hunting with conservation,

      • Mow_the_Grass

        They’re connected.

    • sfin

      I love it when people opine on these forums and make complete fools of themselves by not having a clue what they’re talking about!

      Try bringing some empirical analysis to the debate before you shoot your mouth off – it might help your credibility.

      • Mow_the_Grass

        Blah blah blah blaaaaaaah
        Like what ‘fa instance ‘pal/ette’

    • Mr B J Mann

      >”If they had any real guts – they’d strip down to basics – and track the fox barefoot using a bow and arrow.”

      Except the do-gooders have banned that!

  • The Bogle

    “But it is the foxes who are really frit.” Well, not if you read an article by Simon Jenkins in Tuesday’s Evening Standard about the growing numbers of urban foxes that destroy gardens, scavenge in dustbins and defecate everywhere in central London. The local authorities, cowed by the Animal Rights brigade, claim that they cannot control foxes as they are wild animals, unlike rats and pigeons, which are classified as pests. In at least one case, reported last year in the ES, a fox entered a house in east London and savaged an infant. Some foxes do need to be controlled.

    • gelert

      Time for hunts in central London to deal with this menace ?

      • David davis

        When living in London in the 80s and 90s,I sometimes proposed forming the “Battersea Foot-Beagles”, to manage foxes on country like Clapham Common using Hounds. But nobody wanted to listen.

        • flydlbee

          Ken Livingstone for MFH!

    • Roger Hudson

      You can shoot any fox you see, as long as you are not standing on a public road. You can even kill them with Rod’s lovely birds of prey.
      ps. did they ever prove that the red headed prince and his chum shot those hen harriers in Norfolk?

    • Pen Pal

      I WONDER WHY THEY ARE COMING TO THE CITIES? MAYBE BECAUSE HUMANS ARE RUINING THEIR NATURAL ENVIRONMENT? STOP MURDERING EVERYTHING THAT BOTHERS YOU

    • katastrofa

      This is bullshit, I live in east London, we see foxes at night quite often and they are never a problem. London streets are dirty because people dump trash on them, not because of the foxes. As for the infant, it’s a statistical outlier, it might have been as well a stray dog or some cover up for child abuse.

    • Anothersinglemom

      I think you’ll find a lot more dog/cat shit….are you going to go and kill them too. I think there are far more dangerous dogs than foxes!

  • dapplegrey

    Hmm…… You’re concerned for the animals now, are you Rod? If I recall correctly an article you wrote for the Guardian about the Countryside March concentrated on the class war aspect and how estate owners ‘forced’ their employees to go on the march (though you never actually named the landowners who did this).

  • flydlbee

    Wild species are always under pressure; that’s what “wild” means. The fox is our apex predator with no natural enemy save the motor car. Creatures actually benefit from predation; only the fittest survive. The motor car makes an unselective predator for the fox, while the hunt will generally tend to catch the lame, the halt and the weak foxes, leaving the healthy population to breed – a fact recognised by limiting hunting to those months outside the breeding season. The motor car slaughters all year, without natural selection. The difference can be shown by comparing the undersized, diseased, mangy urban fox with the splendour of its country cousin.

    There is an evolutionary advantage in being efficiently predated, Mr Liddle.

    • The Bogle

      By the same token, badgers and deer have no natural enemies in the UK and are causing damage either to other species or to the environment. The upsurge in their numbers does not help.

      • Kuommentang

        Yeah, and don’t get me started on the humans..

  • Cymrugel

    75% of the public may well agree with you Rod – as do I, but again – like me – they don’t feel strongly enough to do anything about it.

    The only thing that will stop this nonsense is a major and long term national campaign, but who has the time apart from the usual cranks and axe grinders?

    Personally I view hunting as something done to put meat in the pot, or kill a dangerous predator,that requires skill and is possibly quite dangerous – not hours of bouncing around on a horse wearing fancy dress.

    But its just too far from most peoples daily lives.

    Apart from a snort of derision when these merchant bankers are shown on TV occasionally the public scarcely give the issue a thought

    • MA0

       “the public scarcely give the issue a thought”

      This is not true. An MP I know told me that for every letter he gets about something sensible four more come in about fox hunting. Blue-rinse biddies love foxies and love writing to their MPs about cruelty to animals. Cameron may be unwise to raise this matter again.

      • Cymrugel

        People who write to their MP are not representative. Its just not an issue that will start a mass movement.

        • MA0

          It’s not the job of an MP to be so dismissive. His job is to represent constituents concerns. He has to take seriously what moves people to write to him.

          BTW, I am not an anti and nor is he, but there are a lot of people who do seem to care disproportionately about this silly issue. I blame Disney’s Bambi.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            I wrote to my MP about nuisance cold calls. It was completely ignored.

          • MA0

            Wrong tactic. Try this: http://braine.com/killcoldcalls/

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            I wrote as part of a wider campaign. I am quite capable of dealing with the illegal calls.In fact I have made over £1,500 by billing the culprits. It is just that my MP ignored it.

          • Cymrugel

            Fair enough.
            But this simply isn’t something that will get the general public into lather.
            It’s the province of activists and single issue groups and therefore of a minority.

    • Anonymous

      “The only think that will stop this nonsense is a major and long term national campaign”

      I don’t agree with this. A large part of the reason it is still an issue is the legislation (including the way in which it came into being). Nobody is happy with it – even the proponents of the ban are saying the law needs to be changed.

      In focussing on an activity (hunting) rather than an outcome (preventing cruelty) the legislation fails to prevent cruelty whilst also criminalising people whose actions nobody considers to be cruel (try googling Giles Bradshaw).

      It could all be fixed pretty easily by introducing robust wild animal welfare legislation explicitly outlawing cruelty to wild animals, which would be far more simple, enforceable and would have fewer loopholes than the current legislation. It would also be very difficult to argue against without admitting that you want to commit acts of cruelty.

    • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

      Toffs see it as a mark of class distinction. Look at the Hedge Fund crowd who buy up thousands of acres of Scotland and Nothumberland to serve their lust for murdering little birds. These chinless types pay upwards of £20,000 a day for the right to slaughter a couple of hundred tiny, barely edible grouse. Cynically they fine themselves £100 each time they “accidentally” kill a rare snipe instead. They love the eliteness they love the stupid tweedy uniform and the arcane language of gun killing. They love the snobbery that attends unjustified bloodlust.

      • Marketthinker

        Chinless generally refers to inter bred aristos, often not very bright. I have yet to meet any hedge fund manager who fits that description, and definitely not any that could afford a grouse moor. Do please decide on which caricature villain you wish to adopt.

      • Jethro Asquith

        So much offence in just one post. Well done sir!

  • Shorne

    Excellent article Mr. Liddle…gosh I’ve never said that before.

  • Dr Foster

    It doesn’t matter how long I will live, I will never understand how someone can take joy in the killing of an animal. It isn’t how you dress it up; whether you say it is sport, or culling, or necessary – it doesn’t matter. The fact is that people actually enjoy seeing an animal hunted down and killed. That is barbarism, pure and simple. It is unrefined, uncivilised, and retarded behaviour, and points to something seriously wrong inside the person’s head.

    • SocratesWept

      Have you ever been hunting? Hunters don’t hunt because they enjoy killing animals; they do it because they enjoy hunting. It saddens me every time I kill an animal. Why do I enjoy hunting? It’s something atavistic. We are predators and some of us do not hide it. I also enjoy foraging, crosswords and puzzles and finding goodies in junk shops. I would argue it’s the same instinct. If you don’t like it then, obviously, don’t do it. Are you also a vegetarian, and if not why not?

      • Dr Foster

        Like I said (which is why I said it!), it doesn’t matter how YOU dress it up, you are taking ‘joy’ in the killing of an animal. Can you seriously not understand what I have said twice now? I understand your need to reply, but I did make it as plain as I could.

        • SocratesWept

          Is eating a steak also “taking joy in the killing of an animal?”
          Wearing leather shoes? Or is it better to let someone else do the unpleasant business for you? I ask because I really don’t understand where you are coming from; and no, I’m not retarded and don’t have something wrong inside my head.

          • Clive

            I am vegan and I cannot understand why anyone would take pleasure from the killing of an animal. I note that you said that you take no pleasure in it so here’s a suggestion – don’t do it.

            Feel free to go drag hunting – always scorned by the hunting ftaternity who take no pleasure in killing animals – they all say it, it’s not just you – but why ? It’s a solution to your gratuitous law-breaking.

            Or perhaps select some other animal to hunt. Like domestic dogs, for instance. They are often a nuisance, barking at night and occasionally eating babies and small children.

            Good luck with that.

          • SocratesWept

            Sorry, “my gratuitous law-breaking”? I don’t hunt foxes (they taste rubbish I’m told) and don’t eat dogs. What laws do you believe I’m breaking – interested to know.

          • Clive

            I did not know you did not hunt foxes, apologies. It was to that I was referring.

            I don’t know why you don’t eat dogs. As a vegan I am always surprised at the prissiness of meat eaters in their eating choices. No rats either I imagine ?

            You are being rather coy about what you hunt but I still do not understand why you cannot drag hunt or some equivalent ?

          • SocratesWept

            Apologies for my lack of clarity. In theory I would eat dog (desert island scenario etc.) but it does not appeal. I hunt mostly small stuff – rabbits, squirrels, pigeon with .22LR and air rifle, and occasionally deer (roe + muntjac) with .223 or .243. I have shot foxes for neighbours when required. As a keen archer I would love to be able to hunt with a bow but it has been prohibited in the UK for a long time.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            If you admit to veganism you surrender any right to be taken seriously or considered rational: hunting animals is natural, being a vegan is certainly not.

          • Clive

            Not much in the modern world is natural – including your ‘hunting’. Hunter gatherers did not have guns. Nor do the animals you hunt. I do not know why you don’t just leave them to the slaughterhouse. It does suggest you want to kill them yourself.

            While I applaud the honesty of that approach, it does suggest taking pleasure in the killing of animals – so why not admit that ?

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Nothing to “admit” old chap: hunting is hugely enjoyable, one of the most fundamentally human of all activities. I love it. The tools are neither here nor there – I daresay your equivalent ten thousand years ago might have frowned upon these new-fangled bows & arrows as unsporting, not proper hunting… Your apparent notion that hunting should be some sort of equal contest – that animals should have weapons too, including guns – is distinctly weird. But then, you’re a vegan.

          • Mr B J Mann

            So there’s not much natural in Veganism, is there?

            Or do you grow all your own food using no implements apart from twigs sharpened on stones, refuse to cook any of it, eat it off leaves and stones with your fingers, underneath the open sky?!?!

        • Icebow

          Enjoying hunting makes for proficiency in hunting; it’s an aspect of nature. I don’t hunt, do fish; don’t eat meat, never liked it much.

        • sfin

          I don’t “understand” train spotting.

          However, I recognise that it gives pleasure to others and I am not fascistic enough to seek to ban it.

          For those that live closer to the natural world than you, and more importantly know how it functions, then hunting is both an atavistic pleasure and necessary stewardship of the environment. The killing of any animal brings,, at best, a sense of melancholy and any true hunter strives to ensure that the death is as instant and as painless as possible.

    • Malcolm Stevas

      Completely and utterly bonkers: pursuing the creatures of the wild is one of humanity’s most fundamental and natural activities. Dunno what sort of doctor you are, but if of the pill-rolling variety I trust you’re a long way from me.

      • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

        The Nazis used the same “natural” arguments.

        • Mr B J Mann

          Wot?

          For becoming non–smoking veggies?!?!!!

    • Ed Seyfried

      It is not barbarism, or cruelty: Lord Burns the chairman of most authoritative report ever compiled on hunting with dogs said: “Naturally, people ask whether we were implying that hunting is cruel… The short answer to that question is no.”

    • Mr B J Mann

      You never watch Attenborough then?!

  • commenteer

    Luckily most killing of rural foxes is done by gamekeepers, as ever, so one wouldn’t expect the number of foxes in the countryside to have grown. I’m puzzled by your sentimentality on this subject. Like squirrels, foxes are vermin with good PR.

  • Yorkieeye

    Cameron’s been clever here; he’s apparently cosying up to the shire vote whilst knowing full well that a free vote will fail to restore hunting. The Tory party in the commons is no longer composed of shire squires and the new urban MPs will vote against such an unpopular bill. It would greatly harm many urban MPs to be caught voting to murder cute little foxes. It’s a win win for DC!

    • Icebow

      No longer composed of shire squires? That’s bad.

    • Margot

      Exactly!

  • Chris

    “And they spew out this rubbish with a straight face.” — Ron Liddle

    The lack of self-awareness is palpable.

  • Mr Creosote

    Rod – can I suggest you learn to ride, hire a horse and go on a hunt as a guest.
    Then come back and discuss…

    • cartimandua

      Or just get some tiny smattering of knowledge about animal health, welfare and biology.

      He apparently knows nothing at all. Near me a farmers son saw a fox completely bald with mange. He would have euthanized it had he had his gun with him.

      Its suffering must have been dreadful.

      http://www.vet-wildlifemanagement.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=29

      “In the absence of management by man (“leaving it to nature”) fox numbers will only plateau when shortage of food as a result of overpopulation and disease suppress reproductive activity or a significant rise in mortality results. This does not represent a healthy vigorous population.

      Foxes potentially carry a number of significant diseases transmissible to man and domestic animals including rabies, canine distemper, alveolar echinococciosis, angiostrongylosis and sarcoptic mange (see ref Simpson, 2010 below).

      Control of the urban fox can only be achieved by a continuous programme of trapping and humane destruction. Urban foxes, which have lost their instinctive fear of humans, are more amenable to trapping than rural foxes. The practice of dumping trapped urban foxes in the countryside where they are unable to survive is both inhumane and harmful owing to the possibility of cross infection from urban to wild.

      The combination of shooting, snaring and hunting as was practised in varying degrees across the country represented a well-tried management system for the rural fox that would be very difficult to improve. Since the banning in England, Wales and Scotland of hunting with hounds, wildlife managers have regrettably been forced to rely more heavily on the less humane and less selective methods of control namely snaring and shooting. But if biodiversity is to be preserved fox numbers must be controlled. The current campaign by single issue animal rights organisations to ban snares is therefore not in the interest of biodiversity in particular the conservation of ground-nesting birds such as curlews, golden plovers and lapwings.

      The majority of rural foxes culled in the UK are shot using a rifle. But wounding rates using a rifle can be up to 48% and for a shotgun as high as 60%. Although killing rates increase with the skill of the marksmen, wounding rates do not decrease (ref 2003).

      Non-lethal (artificial) methods of population control, such as the laying of contraceptive baits, which are attractive to research groups and single issue organisations, would be impractical, expensive and ethically and biologically questionable. Furthermore they would pose a risk to other wild and domestic species.
      The dispersal effect of hunting is valuable in preventing concentrations of foxes in areas where there are vulnerable livestock (ref 2002b).

      Hunting provides a vital search and dispatch system for detecting debilitated, wounded and diseased animals in the countryside (ref 2002b)

      Conclusion
      Prior to the Hunting Act the rural fox population was in good shape precisely because it was managed. Now the rural fox is persecuted as a pest and the population is suffering as a result. The moderation ethic has been lost (ref. J.C.Reynolds 2000, Fox control in the countryside).

      Hunting with hounds is a vital and essential tool in wildlife management which should be returned to the countryside (ref 2012).


      Echinococciosis is not nice. 20 years after infection humans die of liver cancer.

      • Nigel Miller

        You cite the Vets For Wildlife Management website. Perhaps you could tell us what they called themselves before they had to change their name to sound more reputable and respectable ?

    • Icebow

      I remember going off him after his attack on angling, but eventually forgave him for his anti-Leftie humour.

  • theSkeptic

    In a good year a vixen (female fox) can have 2 litters, each with about 8 cubs; so where there were 2 foxes in an area at the beginning of the year, there could easily be 18 at the end. If nature is to remain in balance (the predators matching the food supply), all but 2 of those foxes need to die or to find other areas in which to live where there is an adequate supply of food.
    Thousands of years ago there were a number of top predators – wolves, lynx, bears, wolverines, eagles, eagle owls etc., which would have reduced the numbers and dispersed the young to other areas; now there is nothing apart from man.
    If the numbers aren’t kept in check, the smaller mammals will be wiped out and the rural foxes’ food chain will collapse, leading to illness and starvation. As we were responsible for the wiping out of these predators, it falls to us to manage the result and to control the (current) top predators for both their sake and for that of the rest of the wildlife in the countryside.
    The only “natural” method of fox control and disbursement is by the use of packs of hounds as they will catch and kill the old, weak, injured, stupid and infirm (thus both removing the animals which are least likely to survive the winter and improving the health of the population by natural selection) and disburse the healthy foxes to new areas where they can continue to keep the smaller vermin (rabbits, rats etc) under control.
    A method of population management is needed and no other system is selective in this way – all others are indiscriminate and none but hunting with hounds provides absolute certainty of either the animal escaping with nothing more than an bit of exercise and an adrenalin rush, or a guaranteed fast death.
    Please, let’s take the politics and “class envy” out of the situation and do what’s best for the wildlife of the countryside.

    • cartimandua

      And now areas where foxes are overshot have an excess in the prey species and a larger reservoir of disease in those prey species.
      Nice (not).

    • Maily Dail

      No. The point is that there are far more efficient (and humane) ways to kill a fox than to hunt it down with a pack of hounds and a load of people on horseback. Shooting foxes is far cheaper, far easier and more humane and what’s more is it’s still legal.

      • sfin

        Read the post.

        Shooting is entirely indiscriminate and kills healthy, breeding age foxes which hunts generally do not – because they can’t catch them.

        Also, if you knew anything about shooting and hunting, you would know that a shot quarry is very rarely killed instantaneously, wounding is far more common and a follow up shot is normally required – this can take several minutes – that is if the wounded fox hasn’t gone to ground (the exception to this being air rifle hunting on small game, where the hunter has to get very close, the rifles are pin point accurate and the majority of game is taken with head shots).

        A fox caught by the lead hound dies instantly – every time.

        • Maily Dail

          Animal rights groups have advocated that shooting is far more humane than hunting with hounds and given that their sole concern is the welfare of animals it would be logical to assume that they weren’t lying. I regularly hunt and shoot and know full well that quarry is almost always killed instantaneously and follow up shots are very rarely required. You seem to be speaking from experience with regards to hunting and shooting and it concerns me as you must either be placing your shots very poorly or not using the correct round for the job if you’re rarely getting instant kills – I would only ever recommend .22 centrefire or above as up to the task.

          • sfin

            Now I know you’re talking Jack.

            I am a retired military weapons instructor who regularly hunts. I would invite you to visit your local gun shop and ask to handle a scoped rifle. At, say 10X magnification, try standing and keeping the cross hairs of the scope on, say, a static, labrador size target at 30 meters (you would never get this close to a fox but hey! ho!) – you will not be able to do it. Translate that difficulty to, say, 60, or 100 meters on a target the size of the heart/ lungs or brain of a fox – even one that has been considerate enough to stand still, broad side on…

            …you say you shoot regularly? I’m sorry, but I don’t believe you.

            Animal rights groups, in my experience, have a Disneyland view of how nature operates which is far removed from reality.

            OK, so you manage to shoot a healthy fox (without it dragging it’s entrails back to it’s den) – removing the apex predator from those few acres – now the farmer will have a rat/ rabbit/ squirrel/ pigeon problem (ground up rat droppings in cereal isn’t good for anyone’s health).

            Hunting with hounds culls the fox population – natures way – by removing the sick, lame and lazy.

          • Maily Dail

            And I’m Donald Duck with 50 years of military experience which included (but was not confined to) both world wars. Just because you claim something on the Spectator doesn’t make it so.

            I’m sorry but I just don’t believe you’ve ever shot in your life.

          • SocratesWept

            You are not doing it right… try resting your rifle on something, using a bipod or shooting prone. In the field, at 30m I expect a group about ten pence piece size, under palm sized at 100m. I regularly shoot woodpigeon (headshots) at 30m and they have tiny heads.

          • sfin

            Well duh!

            You don’t say what you’re shooting.

            Yes, I too, will not shoot at small game unless I’m achieving less than 1cm groups with a sub 12ft/lb, .177 air rifle – out to a maximum range of 45 meters. And woodies are my favourite quarry.

            “Under palm sized groups at 100m”? Not nearly good enough to guarantee instant death when shooting a fox – you can just as easily gut shoot it or shoot it’s snout off. And as you climb the ballistic table through .177HMR, .22LR and through to centre fire of any calibre the more you lose that “pellet on pellet accuracy”.

            Fox hounds were bred for the specific purpose of running down a fox and killing it instantly.

          • Leanne5050

            Military people, to MY experience, have a totally twisted mind in general. Shooting and killing just because they don’t know what else to do. “An order is an order” just because their total lack of independency and just doing what they’re ordered to do.

            Killing just for the thrill of it. But because it’s unlawful to kill people while they’re off duty they hunt totally defenseless creatures instead.

            Grew up in a military environment.. Disgusted !

          • sfin

            Thank you for adding reams of undecided to my side of the argument.

          • Allan C. R.Andersson

            Absolutely right, Leanne. The old codger STILL has the killing lust

          • Ridcully

            “independency?”

          • Allan C. R.Andersson

            ITS’ FOLK LIKE YOU WHO ARE SICK, NOT FOXES..ITS’ TIME TO HUNT THOSE TOFFEE-NOSED TWITS WHO CALL HUNTING OF WILDLIFE SPORT. YOUR DOGS ARE MORE OF A HEALTH HAZARD

          • Mr B J Mann

            Wot?

            Those toffee-nosed miners who go beagling?

          • BoiledCabbage

            Alan, old sweetie, really bad manners get nowhere.

          • Paul W

            Your shouty hectoring tone is one that I have read about when ideas were shouted down in the thirties. In sullies your cause.

            Yes, dogs are a health hazard – but class war is as stupid as the rationale behind hunting.

            I trust you don’t eat meat – if you do that would make you complicit in the vast trade in the body parts of our sentient creatures. Absolutely outweighing any hunting cruelty arguments.

            I would not support the introduction of hunting – in fact I would extend it – but, without shouting hatred for those I don’t like.

          • theSkeptic

            I fully agree with your first three paragraphs Paul, but if you support the extension of the hunting ban having read my initial post, please explain what method you would instigate in order to return the wildlife population of the countryside to balance and maintain it there ?

          • Paul W

            We seem to be on the same logical page. However following logic and common sense throws up the problems you raise. I have no serious ideas that go much beyond being the “pub bore”. You have to tackle our species hubris first.

            The big problem for wildlife and animal welfare is our insistence in the widespread consumption of animal products. We as a species evolved as herbivores only drifting to an omnivorous diet to follow the herds in times of drought.

            So our species is opportunistic and that is the key of its success. Unfortunately it could be the key to its undoing.

            This is a huge subject but it probably won’t be solved until our love of consumerised body part consumption has spread to ever corner of the world and has virtually screwed the planet. Then there will be an overwhelming smell of coffee as drought, disease, global warming, air pollution and plagues of dung flies threatens our future.

            I really don’t know what will happen – all I know is while we keep animals to provide the most inefficient means of food production, farmers will claim they need to keep down “predators”. They do have logic on their side but that logic of course is based on poor choices by the human population.

            I made some money of Cameron getting a majority and that was a longish shot but I don’t see where the money is for our world. No bets yet.

            Back to the foxes – I used to shoot quite well (military – not at animals). At 2 to 3 hundred meters (or yards) I guess you might hit a decent sized deer – and still have to walk over to it to finish it off. Trying to shoot a smaller fox or badger is much much harder and takes a marksman of the very highest order to do the job with no suffering to the beast – wounding without summary dispatch can result in days of pain before inevitable death.

            I wish I knew the answer…

          • sfin

            We may disagree on eventual outcomes, but you argue your side of this multi faceted argument very well.

            And it is nice to see someone on your side of the argument who has some experience of the reality of shooting.

          • Kaine

            Re-introduce the lynx.

          • cartimandua

            They are lying and completely stupid. Shooting is only humane if the fox is in a trap IE and urban fox. Rural foxes are not amenable to trapping. It would be inhumane because the trap would have to be checked more often than is possible.

          • Anonymous

            And they’re wrong to advocate that (they even contradict themselves by saying that shooting badgers is inhumane). There is one peer review paper on this subject: (aptly) Fox et al. 2005 (Wounding rates in shooting
            foxes (Vulpes vulpes). Animal Welfare 14, 93-102) who showed that the wounding rate with a shotgun is 60%, reducing to 48% with a rifle (.243, I believe). Even if the wounding rate from shooting were as low as 1% it’d still be higher than that from hunting with hounds.

          • Ed Seyfried

            You are making this up! How do you discriminate between a young healthy fox and an old sick one? You’ve never hunted and you don’t shoot!

          • Mr B J Mann

            >>”Animal rights groups have advocated that shooting is far more humane than hunting with hounds and given that their sole concern is the welfare of animals it would be logical to assume that they weren’t lying.”
            I once heard a radio interview with someone like the Chair of PETA who welcomed an outbreak of BSE or Foot and Mouth or something similar in the States because it would hurt big agribusiness.
            If you think that animal rights activists (as opposed to their useful idiot fellow travellers) are in it because of a concern for the welfare of animals you are sorely misguided!

        • AgZarp

          The fox dies instantly – every time? That’s very hard to believe.

          • sfin

            Have you ever seen a domestic dog (even a chihuahua) violently shake something it has “caught”? It’s an instinctive reaction designed to break the neck of its ‘prey’. If something that was four times your mass shook you in that way – the g forces would be in excess of judicial hanging – your neck would snap like a twig.

        • Shorne

          I am so fed up with the hunting lobby peddling outright lies

          “Post-mortems commissioned by the Burns inquiry into hunting show no evidence to support claims by hunt supporters that foxes are killed by a ‘quick nip to the back of the neck’ and finds that in many cases foxes are disemboweled first. Independent vet Professor David Morton, who heads the department of biomedical ethics at Birmingham University, has examined the post-mortems carried out by vets from Bristol and Cambridge universities. He said: ‘The fact that none of the animals died instantly clearly shows that they would have suffered. But probably more important is the mental distress these animals would have suffered before they were killed or caught.’”
          The same enquiry also concluded “the overall contribution of traditional foxhunting, within the overall total of control techniques involving dogs, is almost certainly insignificant in terms of the management of the fox population
          as a whole”

          The Burns Committee was initially criticised by the League Against Cruel Sports for having too many members drawn from the Hunting world.

          • sfin

            My data came from vet-wildlife management.org, who carried out post mortems on 20 caught foxes. And my own experience.

            15 of them had died of cervical dislocation – consistent with being shaken. It’s what even domestic dogs do when they catch something – and death is instant. The other 5 had died of massive trauma of the neck and chest – again death was judged to be instant. Fox hounds are bred heavy for this purpose. As the law stands, a wounded fox can be followed up with terriers, small enough to get in the den – and too small to give it the quick death – that is barbaric.

            Try reading the vets piece on “stress” as well. Like most ignoramuses, you are humanising a wild animal.

            Also try to gain some empirical facts and/ or experience before you accuse others of lying.

          • Shorne

            “But the post mortem evidence which we have seen does at least suggest that – as we had tended to conclude from video footage – it is an over-simplification to say that foxes are almost invariably killed by the leading hound grabbing the fox’s neck.” Burns Committee report
            Also perfectly healthy foxes are dug out
            Examples;
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN7i4lkIi40 (from 4.00 onwards)
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN7i4lkIi40
            Also I grew up on a farm and have seen by chance the ends of a couple of hunts, quick nip to the neck my ar*e .My Dad and Grandad would never have Hunts on the farm and neither would the man whose tenants they were as they knew Hunting was the least efficient means of controlling foxes, something the Burns Committee also concluded. Your penultimate sentence is so typical of the arrogance of the hunting lobby it’s almost amusing. People go hunting because they like it but they never seem to have the backbone to come right out and say so.

          • sfin

            Of course people like hunting – I like hunting (with an air rifle nowadays – but the farmer still thanks me when I knock over the wood pigeons, rabbits, squirrels and corvids which infest his property).

            It is not the “quick nip to the neck” which kills the fox – it is violently shaken which dislocates the cervical vertebrae – it is normal dog behaviour when it catches something.

            What do you mean by “efficient”? It’s true that only 50% of hunts resulted in a kill, but by nature’s law, a fox that escapes is a healthy fox which still has a contribution to make (good for the farmer too, as it still is able to control the pest species I mentioned earlier) – and, personally, I never agreed with digging out. A fox that goes to ground has escaped in my view, and I would certainly ban it should the hunting act be repealed. The caught fox, by the law of averages, was unlikely to survive the winter anyway and was being given a far quicker death than the one which was shortly coming to it.

            The other side of the hunting with hounds coin which isn’t much discussed is its aid to dispersal. The wild fox population, in Britain is less healthy, since the ban, as there is nothing to disperse those healthy, genetically superior foxes. They remain in situ, exhaust their own food chain (including beneficial species like hedgehogs), genetically inferior foxes are allowed to breed and starvation and disease set in. Mange is a serious problem now.

          • Shorne

            More nonsense, humans kill about 400,000 foxes per year, only 5% are killed by Hunts.
            This is from a report by a vet on a fox who was rescued after it was saved from being dug out;
            “[It]suffered bite wounds to his rear flanks and was losing blood from his penis due to kidney damage caused during the stress and exhaustion of the long run from the hounds. The vet was able to offer scientific evidence that hunted foxes undergo pathological stress, a level of suffering so intense that they can die even if they succeed in escaping the jaws of the hounds. He was quoted as saying ‘I have never seen such trauma in a dog, even a badly injured one.'”
            A 10 year Oxford University study found that only half of the Hunt Masters questioned mentioned fox control as any justification for their ‘sport’. 82% claimed that the hunt’s main role was as ‘a recreational and social force embodying a traditional rural pastime’.

            Your claim that ‘genetically inferior’ foxes breed more shows a failure to understand basic biology.
            If indeed 500 Vets are in favour of hunting that’s only 3% of the membership of the RCVS.
            You have chosen to ignore the evidence of the Youtube footage I posted which clearly demonstrates a humane efficient way to control foxes.
            As I said I come from a farming background and have shot pigeons a relative of mine who was an arable farmer liked foxes as he recognised there were no better rat killers
            If fox hunting were humane and efficient it would be OK with me but it is neither and I get fed up with the rubbish hunt supporters come up with

      • cartimandua

        Its wounding rate is up to 60%. Following up with a small number of dogs is permitted and what on earth do you think happens then? Either the fox takes days and days to die of sepsis or it is ripped apart slowly by dogs not heavy enough to kill quickly.

    • Sean

      Yes. If culls must be done then set traps or at least shoot them. The hunt is shambolically barbaric and does not work as you claim it does. Yes, ‘Best for the countryside’. For fuck’s sake.

      • sfin

        What you have written is the complete opposite of the truth.

        A fox caught by a pack will be guaranteed an instant death – 100%

        A shot fox has at least a 50% chance of being wounded – to die much later of shock and sepsis. That is barbaric.

    • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

      This story is a surrogate for how the toffs feel about immigrants.

      • Christopher Lennon

        With a name like yours, don’t you get taken for a “toff”?

    • Barriebird

      Have you ever run as fast as you can so your heart pounds out of your chest and it hurts to breathe for your own pleasure ? Have you ever run this fast as you can with your heart pounding and your lungs burning because something you are afraid of is chasing you and you are terrified? Are you old, would knowing that you can not out run the cause of your fear make this even more terrifying for you?
      Your argument is inhumane. The death of a fox on a hunt is not quick, it is a long terrifying experience, thought only to be right but those people who are intent on enjoying their own life with no regard for other creatures.

      • Allan C. R.Andersson

        Exactly. I think we should allow these twits the opportunity of BEING hunted

        • Mr B J Mann

          Wot?!

          So you’re saying that lions and tigers should be hunted?

          An wolves?!

          An, errrr, foxes!!!!!!!

      • Epidermoid

        Nonsense from start to finish. Animals are not aware of impending death. Animals hunt other animals , in this case dogs hunt foxes and foxes hunt my chickens and chickens eat my lettuce. The death of the fox is quick and as natural as all other deaths in the field.

    • Leanne5050

      Well, if that’s true humans should be hunted down before most. After all there are way to many and there are parts in the world where there’s not enough food to feed all of them. Which means they should be shot in order to do “what’s best for nature”..

      WHO is “man”to play God.. ?

      • Ellis Kurtz

        Leanne5050 asks: “WHO is “man”to play God.. ?”

        Someone has to.

        • Leanne5050

          “Someone has to”… What !?

      • theSkeptic

        You are probably absolutely correct Leanne – however my comment was following an article on fox hunting not human population control, so it would be sensible for you to stick to the subject.
        In any case, as man is responsible for altering the World and turning it into the place it is, surely it is our responsibility to care for it and manage it; to do what we can to ensure that all God’s remaining species live in a balanced biosphere ? Unfortunately, there is no one else who can do it for us or any of God’s other little creatures and they cannot do it for themselves; we must do it for them.

    • mikewaller

      This struck me as a well argued piece until I got to the crap about “class envy”. Do you really think that if a charismatic product of a working class estate persuaded all his mates to adopt a dress code, select a suitable kind of hunting dog and then use these to hunted down some form of wild-life, those who currently object to fox hunting would be entirely uncritical?

      No doubt there are those who object to “toffs ripping little animals to pieces” with the emphasis on the toffs; however in my experience what gets folks (who for the most part, rather like having toffs) excited is the bit about ripping little animals to pieces. My own views on the subject are complicated by the perfectly reasonable “death or nothing” argument and a statistic I came across suggesting that more foxes lived in hunting areas because hunts – for obvious reasons – tended to nurture them. However, once the wholly fallacious “class” argument is trotted out (as above) by folk like Helena Kennedy, my reaction is dismiss the entire case on the grounds of their clearly being experts in disingenuity. That said, it might be no more that a protective delusion arising from it being more comforting to see things in terms of class prejudice than face up to the fact that millions of nice people, rightly or wrongly, despise both the practice and the practitioners.

      • theSkeptic

        I’m afraid that the “class” bit has to come into the argument as the whole bill was pushed through to appease the left wing of the Labour Party.
        When hunters protested outside Labour’s conference in Brighton in 2005, Tony Blair took to the platform with a derisive “tally‑ho”, and John Prescott made clear he considered the legislation to be a campaign in the class war.
        When the Act became law, most Labour MPs who had supported it simply forgot about the foxes whose welfare had apparently spurred them on before. Their job had been done: the toffs had been given a bloody nose and the urban voters appeased. They conveniently ignored the fact that many hunt supporters were working people in the countryside.
        Its architect, Tony Blair, said in his memoirs that he regretted what had happened. He said he was “ignorant” about the sport and had not appreciated that for a group of people in the countryside it was a fundamental part of their way of life. Was it a mistake? “I think yes, on balance it was in the end.”
        That said, I prefer to view the matter on the basis of attempting to develop and practise the best methods of wildlife and countryside management – so that all the wildlife can flourish. However, for that to happen, man has to be actively involved.
        At the time that badgers gained 100% protection it is estimated that there were about 30 million hedgehogs in the countryside. It is now estimated that the badger population has increased about 5x, there are less than 1 million hedgehogs and that they are effectively extinct in rural areas (Govt. figures). The badger is the hedgehog’s only predator (very occasionally a fox might predate one, but it is rare). During that time the countryside has become more and more wildlife friendly, with nature friendly pesticides (no more DDT etc), strips of uncultivated land around the field margins etc, yet the hedgehog, the bumblebee (nests in holes in banks) and most ground nesting bird numbers have been decimated. Much though the BBC, animal protection societies etc try to hide it, there is a “massive elephant in the room” which is largely responsible for the loss of the biodiversity. At some time a bullet will have to be bitten and the problem addressed.

        • Abie Vee

          Class? Paf! The vast majority of the public were 2:1 in favour of the ban at the time. Parliament was reflecting the will of the people. For a change.

          Today little has changed… support for the ban, though slightly higher in urban areas (52%), even exists in rural areas (49%).

      • Allan C. R.Andersson

        The. English class-system, which is well out of date, does have plenty to answer for, but let us not forget those working-class types who tag along or those who lick their boots by voting for them

        • Mr B J Mann

          Or those that go beagling on foot without any boots!!!!

      • sfin

        Well argued.

        I accept that “millions of nice people” despise the thought of hunting. But those millions of nice people are, generally, to be found in modern urban areas and have lost all connection with nature, the environment, and how it actually functions. They view ‘wildlife through the prism of television, movies (that actively distort reality) and the fact that their meat comes nicely butchered and wrapped in cellophane.

        The thrust of theSkeptic’s argument was that we, as humans, both need a healthy fox population – to control other pest species – and we need to control their numbers. Part of that management is the dispersal of healthy fox populations – and no other method achieves humane population control, the eradication of genetically inferior foxes, and dispersal of the healthy population as well as hunting with hounds (I don’t hunt with hounds, by the way).

        Of course hunters have an active interest in maintaining their quarry species (unlike armchair conservationists). I live in France and the reason why France maintains a lot more forested areas than Britain is largely down to the hunting lobby (mainly boar and deer – but fox as well), the knock on benefits for non-quarry species, goes without saying. Without them – well, the farming lobby is always looking to clear forest…

        Wildlife in some African countries only exists because it makes money – and professional hunters manage their game species, in order to have a sustainable ‘product’ for paying clients to hunt.

        I have yet to hear one coherent argument against fox hunting with hounds – just the usual politics of hate, as is displayed by the ignorant left – as soon as I see the word “toffs”, I switch off. I have supported many a hunting day, and I would say that “toffs” are in the minority.

        • mikewaller

          I think logic is very much on your side and have no doubt that factor farming is infinitely crueler as the creatures involved get little or no pleasure in life. However, I still find something deeply distasteful in taking so much pleasure and spending such sizable sums of money ostensibly just to have a small carnivore ripped to pieces by dogs. However, from my standpoint the class of the person so engaged does not come into it. Indeed I have even stronger feelings about those who participate in badger baiting, not uncommonly first breaking the poor brutes lower jaw to give their dogs a better chance.

          • sfin

            I think your last sentence suggests a good place to draw a line in the sand over the whole grisly business of humans participating in ‘red in tooth and claw’ nature – that of wanton cruelty and the desire to see prolonged suffering.

            All true hunters have a peculiarly human trait of wanting their quarry species to have as quick and painless a death as possible – I must put at least a hundred rounds down a target range, perfecting my accuracy, for every round that hits my quarry. The fox is a devilishly hard animal to shoot and kill instantly. I have been at the kill in only two fox hunts (I was on foot) and I would say that death was instant in both cases – and the “ripping to bits” bit happened after death (75% of caught foxes die of cervical dislocation).

            The “ripping to bits” argument, whilst understandable, is an emotive, human affectation that we have the luxury of using, cosseted as we are from the cruelties of nature. 65% of the fox population dies every year from starvation, injury or disease – none of which can be called “humane”.

            Like I said, your arguments are perfectly understandable, but the ban was born out of ignorance, enacted by people who would rather ‘the lion lay down with the lamb’.

            Nature ain’t like that!

      • Epidermoid

        the bit about ripping little animals to pieces.

        How embarrassing. I remember writing to the DT when I was an adolescent using that well worn phrase. It took me years to realise how juvenile an argument it was and how mean and cruel are those that make it.Rod is good in parts and excellent in others but hunting is his link with youthful arrogance.

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    • Abie Vee

      Fine words butter no parsnips. Let us not kid ourselves, Fox hunting is a blood sport. There is considerable evidence to support the introduction of foxes from outside the UK when fox populations declined. In his 1987 book, Running with the Fox, Prof. David Macdonald of Oxford University notes: “Where numbers ran short foxes were bought and released (such ‘bagged’ foxes sold for 10 shillings[50p] at the Leadenhall Market in London in 1845) and included a brisk trade in imports from the Continent.” One assumes they were not imported to be kept as household pets.

      The Fox population is self-limiting according to the food available; a decade-long study on the Black Isle showed that foxes stopped breeding during times of scarcity (and if they did breed they ate their cubs). Over the decade of study, fox numbers remained constant (there was a well funded compensatory scheme set up for farmers and landowners who were also paid a flat annual fee not to kill foxes)

      In the wild foxes do not live long: mortality rates generally vary between 50% and 70% per annum. At 50% per annum, only a quarter of foxes live to be two years old.

      The proposition of fox hunting as a control mechanism is undoubtedly specious; however, the question of fox hunting as a sport is valid, and from my own point of view I am strongly in favour. Though not a participant myself, I understand the pleasure it gives to a lot of people, and the employment it generates in country areas. I also understand that if there is no line in the sand, the forces of political correctness will come for my fishing rods, my ferrets, my shotgun, my cigars, my pint of beer and my roast pheasant. Fox hunting is as good a place as any to draw that line.

      • theSkeptic

        Amazing that you would put a comment about what went on in 1845 (170 years ago !) in a thread about the current situation – it obviously has absolutely no bearing whatsoever. 21st Century beliefs in animal husbandry are totally different to those of the early Industrial Revolution.
        I’d be interested in seeing the details of the Black Isle study as Google doesn’t seem to have any reference to it. I suspect that it is more likely the fox population would boom and crash in line with the availability of prey. Vixens, like all mammal mothers, are maternal and caring towards their offspring, so eating their own young would only be a last resort, when driven to it by starvation. Boom & crash population control relies on starvation and pestilence; which is the worst possible system, both for wildlife and the countryside as a whole – a balanced management system is far better.
        Mortality rates take different human control methods into account and, at a level of 50 – 70%, they won’t keep the population in balance; it will grow.

        • Abie Vee

          Not amazing. Make the connection. Hunters say they hunt foxes because foxes are vermin. So successful were they at hunting, that several times in history they have had to replenish the native stock with imported animals from France and Italy. So much for husbandry.. it is nothing of the sort: it is plainly just a blood sport.

          My point was that the hunters should just be more honest about why the do it. They do it because they like it!

          • theSkeptic

            Read my post – no mention of or implication of foxes being vermin.
            The record that a fox or some foxes were imported 170 years ago doesn’t mean that the UK fox population was wiped out, it shows that an entrepreneur believed he could make a profit out of trying it as a business. It obviously failed as the business didn’t survive.
            One of the main arguments against fox hunting is the contention that it is inefficient at fox control. Your argument is that it is too efficient: however, I think it most likely that far more foxes were killed by the local peasant population 170+ years ago than ever met their maker due to hunting with hounds. After all, every rural inhabitant would have kept chickens and other fowl, so they would have had very good reason to wipe out their only predator.
            Yes, it can’t be denied that fox hunting is a “blood sport”, but that doesn’t mean that the participants follow the hunt out of blood lust. By far the majority do so for the social occasion, meeting friends and being allowed to ride over land which would normally be off limits to them, so, yes, in the same way that the urban population enjoy dressing up, going into the city centres at the weekend, getting drunk, vomiting into the gutters and waking up in bed with someone they don’t recognise. The country folk enjoy a day of fresh air and the adrenaline of galloping across country and jumping big obstacles with their friends to chat to; then going home to a great supper followed by putting their feet up in front of a welcoming fire. I know which I prefer and which lifestyle is better for both me and my offspring. Yes, we like it, but for the social occasion and adrenaline rush, whilst doing something to assist in maintaining the balance of nature; not out of pure blood lust.

          • Abie Vee

            No you didn’t say vermin. Who says you did? Hunters say so. I can assure you of that. Who says “wiped out” er… that was you again wasn’t it? More likely that the peasants wiped them out? Hmm in which case, why didn’t they do so ? “Blood lust” who mentioned that? Oh yes, it was you again wasn’t it.

            You’re so jolly good at arguing with yourself that you don’t really need me. Bye.

  • MartinC

    Before humankind arrived on the scene, the apex predator that kept the Fox population in check were the packs of wolves – a situation that pertains in the northern parts of Canada to this day.
    After humankind arrived on the scene the fox population was kept in check by Man and his packs of dogs – which are, after all, basically domesticated wolves. No change there then, as far as the Fox is concerned.
    Now in our post-Blair world, the fox population will be kept in check by the motor-car, the gun, the poison, and cannibalism (foxes under population pressure kill each other’s cubs).
    This is progress according to Mr. Liddle.
    At least the wolves didn’t leave the fox wounded, to crawl away and die later on after hours and days of agony – if the wolves caught it at all they killed it instantly. Cars, guns and poison bait are not more humane.

    • cartimandua

      And nor is leaving the fox without an apex predator.
      Foxes are less healthy and hedgehogs are nearly extinct.

      • J K

        Wolves have been extinct for centuries. Hedgehogs got along fine and that wasn’t down to the effectiveness of hunting. You want to know why hedgehogs et al are in decline – own up to the fact its terrible farming practice: over use of pesticides, monocrops, systematic destruction of biodiversity that’s responsible

        • cartimandua

          They only “got along fine” because man has killed fox and badger by a variety of means.
          Snares gas shooting trapping etc. That was SOP for centuries.
          As soon as people got soppy about them hedgehog numbers tanked.

    • Icebow

      Wolves would have regarded foxes less as food than as competitors, much as otters with mink and lions with cheetahs.

  • Malcolm Stevas

    “The only sensible argument against the fox-hunting ban was the simple
    libertarian point: ‘We enjoy doing it, why should you stop us?’”

    All one needs to consider, though it’s presented here in over simplified form. The mob that screams so shrilly about fox hunting has never been concerned with such a sophisticated concept as political liberty: the mobsters think with their stomachs not their brains, and in any case many (most?) of them are Leftist collectivists for whom an authoritarian State is meat & drink, so they don’t give a stuff.
    Disappointing to find Liddle, who often writes entertainingly and cogently about aspects of political liberty, going in for such crass agit-prop slanders as depicting the typical hunter as a “psychopathic fat toff on a wheezing mare” – a more absurd caricature it is hard to imagine.
    I’ve killed a great many foxes, though with a rifle not on horseback. Come out and shoot a couple with me sometime, Rod…

    • J K

      you sound pathological. Why would anyone want to hang around with someone who takes evident pleasure from the extermination of sentient beings. As Rod points out your lot are thankfully in the minority.

      • Malcolm Stevas

        Do check the meaning of “pathological” and try to appreciate the enormous numbers of people across the planet who hunt wild creatures, if it wouldn’t tax you too much. “Sentient beings” forsooth…

        • Mow_the_Grass

          Many of those who hunt wild creatures pay a fortune to have their fat/slack @rses driven to withinn rifle range and then slaughter an animal in a canned hunt scenario.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Garbage. Only a very tiny proportion of hunters fit your self-serving, colourful, tendentious description. You know nothing about it – which is par for the course.

          • Mow_the_Grass

            Enough with the big words – partyboy.
            Spent large parts of my life in south africa where canned hunting is a huge enterprise.
            Time to leave your leafy lil village and learn about the big world out there.
            But don’t go there wearing your silly pink jacket – those boere outjies will fall about.

          • cartimandua

            its actually red ignorant one. Foxy hunting is not “canned” an thus disperses the fox in a way which is useful to population fox.
            No other cull method does that.

          • Margot

            You are the ignorant one. Although they obviously are red they are called pink – another affectation of the hunters.

        • Callipygian

          Yes, but hunters are often callous. They hunt mourning doves in America: why? And, in some states, the tall, majestic and distinctive sandhill cranes (protected where I live, and they can drill my lawn all they want without harrassment):
          http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/sandhill-crane

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Yeah? I dare say some stamp collectors are callous, and chess players can be notoriously arrogant, intolerant and moody…

          • Callipygian

            Philately and chess don’t require callousness.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Neither does hunting, in fact a good hunter would be seriously handicapped if he or she were significantly callous. Some of the very best people I’ve met were hunters, in contrast to the more extreme so-called “animal-lib” fans, who are repellent and thoroughly nasty creeps, eccentric weirdos, narrow individuals who seem to prefer animals to humankind.

          • Callipygian

            I’m not sure that they really DO prefer animals; I think that animals are a stick to beat humans with. Also I agree that sentimentalizing animals instead of actually empathizing with them is unimpressive to the point of being dangerous in a grown-up human. Dangerous because it can result in deluded souls being eaten by the ‘misunderstood’ animals they themselves don’t understand, and dangerous because the true needs of animals go unrecognized because they aren’t taken seriously.

            This is a bit tangential but further to my own thoughts about taking animals seriously: when Britain finally, finally, FINALLY lifted its Victorian and ludicrous quarantine law (rabies is simply not that serious in the modern West — and it’s treatable), the substitute was so unacceptable to me that I am still unable to come back to England as long as my dog lives. The stress and trauma that the new system would put her through is scarcely an improvement on the old (it just ruins lives all at once, instead of dragging the agony out).

          • Mr B J Mann

            As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, someone like the Chair of PETA welcomed an animal disease (BSE?) in the USA as it would hit big agribusiness where it hurts!!!

        • Mary Ann

          Yes but the vast majority hunt animals for food.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Any believable figures to support that? And do you imagine those hunting for food don’t enjoy the hunt, just grit their teeth, shed a tear over the poor creature, then scoff it for dinner? I suppose if you don’t enjoy it, everything is alright…

    • Mow_the_Grass

      However many you kill – not gonna put some meat in the small underpants department.

      • Malcolm Stevas

        Par for the course: schoolchild willy-waggling as a pitiful substitute for adult discussion.

        • Mow_the_Grass

          Real men dont wear pink jackets.

          • Icebow

            They’re not pink, nor are they called pink by hunters as far as I know.

          • cartimandua

            hunting pink is actually bright red.

          • Callipygian

            Scarlet, isn’t it? A slightly orangey-pinky red? I’ve never seen a hunting jacket in real life so I’m guessing from various depictions.

          • Margot

            Oh FGS. Yes they are bright red but they call them pink. It’s a cliquey thing – like a lot of the affectations at Westminster, using terms that are odd to anyone not in the group. Similar to kids at school.

          • Callipygian

            ‘in the pink’: indeed

          • Mary Ann

            I wonder if hunters call all shades of red pink.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            OK, so you despise homosexuals as well as fox hunters.

          • Mow_the_Grass

            Ok – so i’ve hit a nerve

          • cartimandua

            Real men don’t leave animals to die of starvation wounding or diseases.

    • Icebow

      It is surprising of Rod. One might argue that a major aspect of the value of fox hunting is how much it enrages Lefties.

  • cartimandua

    Oh the dangerous wicked ignorance of townies.
    The foxes and badgers are now exterminating the hedgehog. Mange is a terrible death for foxes and is now a national problem.
    Left to “shooting” foxes die a protracted death or are followed up with a just a few dogs.
    Wildlife vets are “for” hunting as it manages the fox in a way that is actually good for foxes and all the species around the fox.

    • J K

      as if you give a fig about hedgehogs. Besides there were hedgehogs and foxes surviving side by side for thousands of years on these shores long before people started to dress up to kill them and call it a sport. Further rubbish ideas you subscribe to include some kind of ‘natural balance overseen by farmers’ horse-poo – need I point out the damage caused by pesticide intensive farming responsible for the decline of bees (not to mention other crap short-termist farming), or by high yield mono-crops which encourages no biodiversity? Wild cats, red squirrels all on the retreat, wolves hunted to extinct. The problem with farmers is that most only one remove from peasants. When they look at their land its not heritage they see – it’s just a resource to turn into a quick buck.

      • cartimandua

        Yes hedgehogs survived before townies got soppy about badgers and foxes.
        Man used to kill a lot of them with guns gas snares etc not just hunting.
        “soppy” is bad for fox and badger and every species affected by them.
        And yes I do care about hedgehogs. I grow food to eat. I wanted to rehome some for pest control and the charity said there were too many badgers in my area.

    • Mow_the_Grass

      Are’nt you the one all over these weblogs talking about human over population.
      Thats the real problem for the planet – not the diminishing animal/wildlife.
      Stick to the former -its where the real problems are coming from.

      • cartimandua

        I care about the hedgehog. I care about unhealthy foxes dying of mange because of overpopulation. I care about lamping leaving foxes dying slowly or being ripped apart by the small number of dogs permitted . I care about unhealthy foxes passing on diseases to domestic pets and man.
        I even care about peoples pet chickens and ducks.
        Sadly I didn’t have a camera handy when I saw a fox trotting down my driveway with a white duck hanging from its mouth.
        I just hope it wasn’t a child’s loved pet.

        Its just crazy not to manage foxy and badgers when they don’t have predators other than cars, starvation, and disease.
        Nature isn’t Disney.

        • Anothersinglemom

          What about the beloved pets that are unfortuately come into contact with a pack of blood lusting hounds? My cousins cat experienced this horific fate

      • little islander

        The former problem should be left to you, ‘I would suggest’.

      • Mary Ann

        Solve the human population problem by educating women,

  • GAM

    Hunting is fun – end of. People get together, ride, jump ,drink, eat, and generally enjoy the world around them. Why ban something which so many civilized, law-abiding folk enjoy, and have done so for generations? The benefit to the habitat is very important, but, essentially, this is about people having a nice time. You should try it Rod, it’s much more enjoyable than watching Millwall play every other weekend.

    • Mow_the_Grass

      If this represents ‘having a nice time’ – then lil Britland is in a lot more trouble then previously believed.

    • rodliddle

      A good response, GAM, and the only one which makes any sense. I still think it barbaric, but I do see your point.

  • jonkle

    I was brought up on a remote farm in Wales, we shot foxes, pigeons, rats etc as vermin because foxes attacked livestock, pigeons damaged crops and rats were a health hazard, and they ate precious animal feed stocks. My father would have no compunction about shooting dogs that attacked his sheep either. We also shot for food e.g. rabbits, hare, pheasants and pigeons etc and we fished for trout in the river that ran through the farm.
    I don’t shoot any more because I don’t need to, I can buy my meat from Tesco or the local butcher, and I don’t live on a farm.
    Did I enjoy killing animals ?
    Well actually no I didn’t, but I guess the thrill of the hunt and the reward of a roast pheasant, pigeon or rabbit pie afterwards just about outweighed the unpleasantness of killing.
    Today people eat meat in expensive restaurants, and they know that an animal has had to be killed in the process, but there again the enjoyment outweighs the unpleasant thoughts.
    Hunting is a primeval instinct which is buried deep within most of us, something which we don’t need to do anymore in order to survive. But the ease with which animals can be bred, raised and slaughtered out of sight in modern factories in their millions today means that we no longer have to face the unpleasantness of killing, It’s is ironic that despite society’s increasing feeling of revulsion at the thought of hunting and killing animals, we are killing more animals for food than we have done at any time in the history of the humanity, because modern technology has removed us from the killing process, out of sight out of mind.
    And as far as the millions of animals are concerned, well they still get killed.

    • Callipygian

      Halal is an abomination and should be a serious crime in Britain.

    • Mary Ann

      And we read books to our children with pretty little baa lambs, and then complain when they won’t eat their dinner.

      • little islander

        Those books are meant for children whose parents can’t afford lamb.

    • sfin

      A good post – which sums up what “urbanisation” does to humans – even in one lifetime.

      As you alluded to, though, there is another environment, which we all rely on for our food. In Britain it is called “the countryside”. As you know, the countryside has to be managed, by us humans, as well as the factory floor – and that means all of the species that the urban bunny huggers like to watch on their televisions.

      The anti hunt lobby, to me, is like watching a group of, say, civil servants visiting an infantry battalion to tell them how to do their job!

  • LoveMeIamALiberal

    The fox hunting debate is a con. The current law is unenforceable, such that no hunt has been disbanded since it was introduced. Hunts go out with a drag and often the hounds pick up the scent of an actual fox and chase it. No law broken, the dogs are only doing what nature calls them to do – can’t prosecute the hunters if the hounds ignore the drag and decide to chase after the real thing. So whether or not the ban is repealed will make squat diddley difference to the number of foxes killed by hunts.

  • UnionJihack

    How about shooting all the urban foxes in city parks first. They are a right pain for my neighbours’ cats.

    • stephen james

      How about shooting your neighbour’s cats which are doubtless a real pain for what remains of your wildlife?

      • MahatmaFarage

        Now now, there is of course a third option of shooting your neighbours for having cats destroying the last bit of what you perceive as wild life, but a joke’s never a joke unless you make it yourself, ey?

  • huw

    come out of your concrete jungle rod liddle into the real countryside!! moron

    • rodliddle

      I don’t live in a concrete jungle, “Huw”.

  • Margot

    We came to a rural area of the UK surrounded by many hunts, years ago when a Hunting Ban would have been an unlikely hoped-for dream. We soon learnt that rather than hunting being a means of controlling foxes, the hunts actually bred foxes and imported them to their intended hunt areas. Even then there were many farmers opposed to the hunt and those taking part in hunts were viewed in the main as arrogant t***s riding roughshod over others’ land.

    • jonkle

      I’m not a hunter, but as a rural dweller I would just make one point about your post. As far as I am aware, hunts only go onto land with the owner’s prior permission. If they don’t have the owner’s permission, then they are effectively trespassing.

      • Margot

        Mmmm. In theory yes. Problem is hunts are not totally controllable. Foxes and hounds tend not to read and observe signs. There have been numerous cases of gardens ruined and domestic pets savaged. IF a hunt is is doing drag hunting as they are supposed to do then that is of course workable. Horse riding in fancy dress – where’s the problem. Oh, forgot, we haven’t tortured a fox.

        • jonkle

          Hunting with dogs is illegal, has been for many years, and should remain that way. So, do you have a problem with horse riders in fancy dress ?

          • Margot

            Not if they’re drag hunting – they can do that in panto gear if they so want. If you think that hunting has stopped because of the ban you’re deluded. I have seen two hunts going on near where I live quite recently – in a very isolated area and there were ‘guards’ on the access roads – similar to how dog fights are still carried on – though at least they don’t don fancy dress and pretend they’re carrying on some sort of ‘tradition’. As Rod says the whole thing needs tightening up At the moment too many are ignoring the law of the land knowing they can get away with it.

          • jonkle

            If you have reason to believe that a crime is being committed you should notify the police. Did you do that ?

          • Margot

            I take it you’re joking! I did contact the League Against Cruel Sports to tell them the area.

  • Precambrian

    Rod ‘Katie-Hopkins’ Liddle at it again.

  • mrsjosephinehydehartley

    O isn’t it beautiful. Look at its little spindly legs poking out.

  • Gerschwin

    Lame. You can do better.

  • Sean L

    Is this is a wind up? You usually give the impression of being reasonably intelligent. But this is just garbage. Hunting with dogs is easily the most humane means of killing foxes. That the numbers haven’t been affected by the ban doesn’t alter that. No one ever said there aren’t other methods. And if you’re concerned with animal welfare, to complain about hunting over factory farming defies reason. Besides, hunting is primal for man and dog. To ban it is an outrage; but in the name of *animal welfare*, a bad joke.

    • Callipygian

      A lot of things are ‘primal’, Sean. It’s our challenge as rational minds and civilized people to overcome them.

      • Sean L

        Fair enough, one vacuous remark deserves another I suppose. For a serious discussion on the matter try Roger Scruton’s excellent On Hunting – I’d post a link but it’s a bit fiddly with a tablet. Anyway the animal welfare position is untenable re hunting. I wouldn’t mind but hunting people are authentic animal lovers. These antis wouldn’t know what to do with a horse. Their starting point is kitsch, Walt Disney school. Any rational position on animal welfare would start with the atrocity that is factory farming. My own people in Ireland are farmers and horse people. Many times I’ve gone out to the henhouse as a child in the morning and seen the devastation wrought by the fox. No one defends rats or mice. But why should a fox merit more sympathy? They need to be culled and why shouldn’t people enjoy it in the process just as they relish a good steak, which entails no less animal suffering however you might slaughter the beast? Absolute baloney from Rod Liddle whom I otherwise admire for his wit as much as his views – on most things.

        • Clive

          I believe much of the point is in the ‘relish’ taken by ‘hunters’ in the killing of the animal ‘like eating a good steak’, as you put it.

          You are putting yourself in the position of the cat torturing its victim. The difference is that humans should have more between their ears than primal instincts as Callipygian says.

          There are, after all, primal instincts involving the rape and murder of other humans

          Are you going to act those out ?

        • Callipygian

          Hi Sean. I take your considered points, though I would add that Roger Scruton can be wrong — he does write an awful lot of guff about wine, for instance — and I don’t think people should let their cats terrorize the small of the countryside (make your cat wear a bell or restrict its opportunities to kill). I’m also amazed that after all these centuries, humans can probe deep space but they can’t build a fox-safe chicken coop. Seems ridiculous.

    • Mary Ann

      Hunting is primal, yes, but for food,

      • sfin

        Wrong – lions will hunt and kill cheetahs on site – not for food, they don’t eat them – but because, to a lion, a cheetah is vermin whose numbers need to be controlled.

  • The Elderking

    The ban certainly leaves more foxes for us to shoot, trap and gas.

  • gerronwithit

    The really puzzling thing about Rod Liddle joining in this ‘debate’ is that anyone outside the nonsensical sentimentality of a city or indeed the United Kingdom would wonder why these metro-nutters get so vexed about vermin. I do have foxes patrolling my garden on a very regular basis and I do not really care, but if I had animals or young children……

    • Callipygian

      They’re wild animals, not ‘vermin’.

      • gerronwithit

        No better or worse than rats!

        • Callipygian

          Except they are a higher form of life, and I respect that.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Your dog has been bred by humans to be a tool or a companion, a cow has been bred by humans to be lunch.

            What’s the difference?!

            If your dog has been bred to be a companion, it may well have been bred to have an attractive, endearing, big-eyed, flat-faced, cutely-cuddly appearance.

            At least, or especially, to a female.

            Or at least to a human female’s ‘primal’ instincts.

            But, surely, it’s our challenge as rational minds and civilized people to overcome them?

            Well, at least us men?

            I’m not sure the female of the species is cut out for that?!

          • Hamburger

            Foxes are not a higher form of life than rats which are vey complex creatures.

          • Callipygian

            Nice try but no cigar.

          • Hamburger

            But true.

          • Callipygian

            Listen: can you tell a sponge from a seal?

          • Hamburger

            Listen? How?

  • mrdavidjohnson

    What a disgusting article. It was never claimed the fox population would increase after the hunting ban, quite the opposite in fact.

  • Paul W

    I have little love for fox hunting indeed, I tried it once and found it rather dangerous – I never saw a fox killed that afternoon but I found the company wanting. It was wet and cold and I never repeated the experience.

    Hunting is cruel – definitely; but remember, Basil and Reynard usually elude the stupid dogs and following mounted idiots.

    What really is cruel is the dreadful toll on the animal kingdom so that we humans can “have our meat”.

    Specially bred animals with pathetic lives summarily ended by thick and insensitive slaughterhouse guards. Unless they have the luck of a Tamworth Pig there is no chance of escape.Luck for these wretched billions every year is a bolt in the brain rather than a knife across the throat in the name of some medieval religious piety.

    Take a walk through our countryside, see the miserable flocks and herds paddling around in mud and grazing on urine and feacally tainted grass. Oh, and air full of flies landing on your picnic after feasting on a cowpat.

    But – the farmers must keep down the vermin so they can continue to feed humanity.

    I will cut the logic short – if you are against fox hunting (and in my view you should be) then please have a really good think about your diet.

    Do not rail against hunting which at least gives the beast a more than a “sporting” chance of escape if you continue to indulge in the products of the far greater wickedness.

    Remember – fewer flies is just one very minor bonus.

    There is much more to be said…

    • Mary Ann

      And of course if we gave up eating meat there would be more than enough food to feed the world.

      • SocratesWept

        There is already more than enough food to feed the world – it’s just not where people would like it 😉 There is no one stopping you going veggie.

      • Paul W

        The list of benefits is is long including:

        No more cruelty to meat product animals.
        Potential Increase by weight in food by sevenfold (your point).
        Main “reason” for hunting – gone.
        Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
        Billions of water not wasted on generation of bovine urine.
        Reduction in waistlines.
        General improvement in health (no more meat toxins)
        No more widespread muck spreading.
        No more bad smells from chicken and pig farms.
        Fewer flies on my humus and tomato sandwiches.

        What is there not to like? – and we could bring back wolves, bears and lynxes – and shooting, but with cameras.

        Never happen – nothing in it for blinkered farmers – but, what a prospectus.

        • Callipygian

          You don’t want wolves and bears in most parts of Britain. Bears are all over the United States, and in the mountains I’m always looking over my shoulder.

          • Paul W

            Wolves only occasionally attack people and are generally shy of us – they would have plenty of food without munching on us. We have too many deer, foxes and badgers – a few wolves would help restore the natural balance without the need for “sport” hunting.

            You may have a point with bears though; but we do have some wild spaces they could inhabit where some care (and a rifle) may be necessary. Bears were indigenous to our islands until the middle ages I believe.

        • sfin

          And for people who actually live in natural environments, as opposed to armchair suburbia – like foresters for example? They’re not going to thank you for introducing species that can kill them.

          I can remember a letter to a U.S. conservation magazine in reply to an article decrying the reduction in grizzly numbers, it went along the lines of:

          “Excuse me but I live in a forest, I am a forester, my kids walk through the forest to get to school. This is MY natural environment. If I see a grizzly, I shoot it. Do I weep with frustration because my kids will never get to see a Tyrannosaurus Rex in ‘the wild’? No. People who live in downtown Manhattan should stop watching Disney movies.”

          Or as Mark Steyn put it:

          “Bears are both opportunistic predators and shrewd calculators of risk. Not so long ago they learnt to give the strange, naked bi-ped a wide birth if it didn’t want to spend eternity as a fireside rug. Now the woods are full of happy clappy, suburban Disney watchers seeking their ‘inner bear’ – so the bear just thinks: ‘Why not help them by ripping it out of their chests for them?’

          Go back to school.

          • Paul W

            I’m with you. I think you misunderstood my points.

            I just abhor the hypocrisies of urban busy bodies who eat meat and complain about animal cruelty. I live in the English countryside and see the miserable and short lives that we impose on the animal kingdom so that the blinkered population can gorge on muscle and offal.

            I don’t like fox hunting particularly,and would not be unhappy for the continuance n England. However, from a morally relativistic standpoint, the continuing cruelty of the world meat trade pales into insignificance with the occasional ripped up fox.

            Have you ever watched a pig with a broken leg being kicked out of a cattle truck by stupid and insensitive slaughterhouse workers? I have, and the look in its eyes will stay with me until my last days. For that wretched creature, blessed relief is a bolt in the brain 20 long terrifying minutes later. However, the pig is not halal or kosher so is excused the added cruelty of a lingering religion (ritual OCD) imposed demise.

            I am all for rewilding and restoring proper balance to our world. The woods, moors and forests of our small island should not be theme parks for obese burger fed townies.

            Let there be a Disney World in every conurbation so the urban dunderheads can sit on their fat arses consuming big macs pizzas in their own noisy “pleasure domes” – and leave us to our new wilder and quieter world in peace.

            Actually in truth, they generally do.

            Yes; bears may be a problem – but as they say, a problem is an opportunity waiting for a solution.

  • Marcus

    “Their fears are entirely justified: the Conservatives have a truly
    shocking record on conservation.”

    Please qualify that Rod.

    Socialist governments have had a far worse impact on the environment than
    right leaning governments.

    See Aral Sea for details.

    • Mary Ann

      Well it wasn’t a British leftie government so why bring it up, you must be desperate.

      • Marcus

        Conservation and hunting go hand in hand.
        The days of large scale hunting causing extinction are long gone, outside of the fishing world.
        Hunting in the West and conservation are very closely related.
        Left wing governments have systematically destroyed natural habitats far more than right wing ones.

        • GraveDave

          Left wing governments have systematically destroyed natural habitats far more than right wing ones.

          It’s daft to make a claim like that. Probably why even your right wing mates haven’t ticked you up.

  • paul

    They should strip Ian Duncan-Smith bollock naked and let him run into the fields then hunt him down with the hounds followed by the huntsmen in their finest red livery !!

  • IainRMuir

    If you’re so concerned about foxes, stop driving. Most of them seem to end up as a bloody mess by the side of the road.

  • Mary Ann

    I expect the people involved in bear baiting and cock fighting enjoyed it as well, so why don’t the Tories suggest we bring that back as well.

    • cartimandua

      Because they were not about optimal management of wildlife.
      Hunting with hounds is better for the fox population and species around the fox than any alternative.
      Population fox is now less healthy and hedgehogs are nearly extinct.

  • Ed Seyfried

    How does this drivel get past the editor? Stream of consciousness, uninformed, prejudiced nonsense: not only does it undermine the credibility of everything else that Rod Liddle has written for this magazine (all of which I now assume is as badly thought out, bigoted and poorly researched as this article is) but it follows that it also subverts the plausibility of everything else in the Spectator, a shame when subscription renewal and Christmas time comes around again. For Mr. Liddle here is what the chairman of most authoritative report ever compiled on hunting with dogs said “Naturally, people ask whether we were implying that hunting is cruel… The short answer to that question is no.”

    • rodliddle

      Grow up, you halfwit. Try to read something opposed to your own point of view without throwing your toys out of the pram.

      • Ed Seyfried

        Oh dear, looks like I hit a raw nerve! I think, Mr. Liddle, in medical circles your response would be labelled textbook ‘psychological projection’. And your flinging insults further demeans your integrity as a writer and worse debases the Spectator.

        • rodliddle

          No, you missed the nerves, all of them, by a mile. Add pompous to my previous list of insults.

          • Ed Seyfried

            Is that it, Mr. Liddle? You turn in the most mindlessly inept argument about the Hunting Act that has yet been published this side of Jackie magazine and then chuck out a few patronising insults in order to deflect your lack of merit; is that the best the Spectator can do? Pages that were once were graced by Auberon Waugh and Jeffrey Bernard and Philip Larkin and John Betjeman contaminated with your boozy unfounded blether so that you can gain some cred with your class warrior headbanger mates?
            Would you want to add some depth to your argument? Come beagling with me. Come beagling by day, and then stay and sing hunting shanties into the night with port and whisky and wine and women and then try writing the same piffle again.

          • Ed Seyfried

            Is that it, Mr. Liddle? You turn in the most mindlessly inept argument about the Hunting Act that has yet been published this side of Jackie magazine and then chuck out a few patronising insults in order to deflect your lack of merit; is that the best the Spectator can do? Pages that were once were graced by Auberon Waugh and Jeffrey Bernard and Philip Larkin and John Betjeman contaminated with your boozy unfounded blether so that you can better gain some cred with your class warrior headbanger mates?
            Would you want to add some depth to your argument? Come beagling with me. Come beagling by day, and then stay and sing hunting shanties into the night with port and whisky and wine and women and then try writing the same piffle again.

  • Callipygian

    Well, it’s been a good effort by the anti-fox bridgade. But personally I think it’s time for another fibromyalgia article. Followed celeritaciously by a piece against nudist beaches. Such fun!

  • alfredo

    The article overlooks the fact that the ban was gleefully introduced as a salvo in class warfare; some of its proponents had probably never seen (or smelt) a fox. So it needs to be reversed for the same reason, and then the real issues can be discussed against a background of sanity in which people are persuaded by argument, not by totalitarian legislation.
    (Good thing maypoles have gone out of fashion, so they won’t need to be banned.)

  • WhiteVanMan

    What cops there won’t be any left

  • daniik

    If I wasn’t already part of the choir you are preaching to, I would have been convinced by looking at that amazing picture alone. Where do I sign?

  • Jules Wright

    Rod: townie. Because animal husbandry sometimes comes in red coats, your common sense slips. Arbitrary snares. Arbitrary poison. The farmer’s shot that doesn’t kill cleanly because the farmer is not Chris Kyle. All three mean slow deaths. The first two will kill anything that takes the bait. Hunting (a pest) culls the weak – fast – and let’s the strong thrive, thus preserving the species while curtailing numbers. Until you understand what you’re talking about, do some objective research. And stay inside Zone 6.

    • rodliddle

      No Jules. Simply because I disagree it doesn’t mean I’m a “townie”. That’s pretty stupid, no? I’ve never been a townie.

  • AndrewMelville

    Has anyone given thought to hunting convicted Islamic or IRA terrorists as an alternative? It would be fun, promote employment, spare the state the expense of gaoling such vermin, and of course would promote justice. I suspect that with the use of drones much of the action could be captured live on camera, thus permiting the development of an exciting new entertainment option. No doubt there would be a significant export market for such a programme – most especially in the Middle East.

  • harryf200

    Lots of claims here: 50% shot don’t die immediately, 100% foxes caught by hounds die instantly, etc, etc, etc. But we’re a little short on hard evidence. Where are the studies that prove these “facts” are true?

  • Adolf Shickelgruber

    +theSkeptic…….The order of mother nature is far preferable to your biased
    calculations and justifications for a spectacle of bloodlust.

  • Adolf Shickelgruber

    I would never allow hunting,animal testing or the human consumption of animal meat and related products.

  • andylowings

    Off topic but I would like to submit the UK entry next Eurovision song contest.

    Two beautiful gay boyish-chaps are backed by 10 good-as-nude backing singers, as trained puppies dance around a group of kittens, led by trainers in wheel chairs.
    Lyrics ( earnestly):
    “Boom bang-a-bink. We are one. Love. Together in europe. Boom-bang-a-bink.
    Oompah oompah.”
    (repeated 24 times)

    Cant fail.

  • pyewacket

    Rod you naughty boy, you. You must be in a particularly antagonistic mood to write this. You know it sets the hunters all aflame. They’ll be at your throat. Talking of throats, I nearly choked me self to death laughing and drinking tea at the same time!

  • mikewaller

    How about giving Charles Moore both verbal barrels next time you are in adjacent stalls in the Specky’s gents.

  • Mr B J Mann

    >”their arguments are exquisitely vapid, contradictory and sort of non sequitur. There’s no thrill in ripping a fox to bits, they say. The foxes actually enjoy the thrill of the chase!”

    How’s that a non sequitur?

    There’s no thrill in the ripping to bits, it’s in the thrill of the chase.

    >”It’s all necessary to keep ‘vermin’ under control. And also hardly any foxes are killed.”

    You only need to kill enough to keep them under control to keep them under control.

    As you say later, “there has been no increase in the fox population — which immediately” CONFIRMS “the ‘vermin control’ arguments”!

    >”The hunting ban cost loads of jobs and hurt the rural economy. And anyway, since the ban even more people have joined the hunts and business is booming”

    Do they say it’s booming, or only that “even more people have joined the hunts”.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean that business is booming, or even static.

    >”reports suggest that no jobs have been lost whatsoever — that was all hyperbolic lies. The number of jobs directly reliant upon fox-hunting was in any case minuscule — something in the region of 750 nationally.”

    Which bit of “directly” is so confusing?

    >”large net rise, year on year, of people joining and taking part in hunts. The Burns Commission put this at 11 per cent — with more than a third of hunts reporting a large increase in followers or participants. So that’s the ‘job losses — rural economy….”

    No, no mention of jobs, never mind rural economy.

    You could have a doubling in participants and a halving in jobs and the rural economy.

    If the reports reported a rise in jobs or an increase in the rural economy why didn’t you quote them on it, instead of indulging in “exquisitely vapid, contradictory and sort of non sequitur” arguments”?!?!?

    And as for:

    >”And order the Old Bill to enforce the law properly instead of leaving it to the RSPCA. How many other laws are enforced solely by voluntary bodies?”

    How many other laws have their own (wealthy) uniformed paramilitary bodies with legal powers to enforce them, dragging little old ladies through the courts because they wouldn’t put their pets down or tried to claim the farm they had lived on and worked all their lives for a pittance only to find their surviving parent had been talked into handing it over to a uniformed paramilitary body in their will?!?!?

    • cartimandua

      There is now a national problem with mange in the fox.. Hedgehogs are nearly extinct and we need them for slug control when growing food. Urban foxes carry more diseases and have attacked pets and children.
      Yes there is a problem since man stopped managing the fox population.
      Also in areas where they are legally shot they are now overshot leading to a rise in prey species and a disease reservoir growing in that prey species.
      You see it is called an ecosystem and man was the predator for the fox.
      Not having one is a disaster.

  • Perseus Slade

    re Kettle, isn`t it:
    I`m not that kind of girl.
    And anyway, 50p is not enough.
    And anyway, where would go?

  • Sten vs Bren

    “Round my way gamekeepers shoot any and every bird of prey they clap their nasty little eyes on”

    If you think that you know that; shop them. Or is it hawk sh*t?

    • rodliddle

      I’ve tried. And will keep trying.

  • Alphonso de Barbo

    The anti fox hunting lobby are all just a bunch of p o o f t e r s!

    • Alphonso de Barbo

      … I’m just trolling, but I do love winding you dumb c u n t s up!

  • Terry Field

    Lets set the cops on the nasty little leftie sh1ts who attack country life, from their putrid little urban flats, fed with Tesco and Sainsbury proessed ‘food’, pasty-faced, flacid, scared-of-life and weak-as-water.

    • sfin

      Harsh – but fair!

    • GraveDave

      Leftie s h i ts and perhaps a few ‘shy Tories’.
      It’s not and never has been a Left or Right issue.

  • Radford_NG

    Saw “Rod Liddle” (or it might have been “Ed Milliband”) Friday morning:or so I named him. An injudicious pigeon landed on a ledge a few yards from a peregrine falcon and her four young and went strutting up and down watched by the falcons who all looked to be affronted.Suddenly male falcon lands on the ledge,drops a dead pigeon and flies off.Female takes corpse and flies off.Shortly after male pounces on “Rod Liddle”,now at far end of ledge,and flies away.One falcon-or-other returns with one dead pigeon-or-other for the young:probable poor,mistaken,”Rod”.Nature red in beak and claw.The growing falcons are getting through a lot of pigeons now.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Miliband, how many more *ucking times!

      • Stop being a pointless Japanese troll and idiot, how many times?!

        • GraveDave

          Stop winding him up then and spell it with the one L.

          • The man (a Japanese) is not only a fruitcake but an über-fantasist with some serious learning difficulties, who hangs around the BNP website and David Icke’s (as if he were British). I am pretty sure that if we were to oblige, he would then find something else silly and petty to moan about, probably in no time at all!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            For the past decade and more, Jonathan D. MacDonald of Rochdale (current user name, Too Old To Join UKIP) has been posting that I’m Japanese, among other stupid and illogical assertions. As example, causing death by dangerous driving is actually libellous. And guard at a WWII PoW camp is quite simply balls-to-the-wall, batshit insane. While paedophile is hardly worthy of mention. He just makes it up as he goes along.
            But sadly, the Spectator which lacks all moral and ethical standards, sees a percentage in keeping the looney around for laughs.
            So that’s the individual you are supporting, Dave. So where does that leave you? In the loser’s corner I suggest.
            Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

          • What substance are you on?!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            To see how far the rot has gone and how well the termites have dined in UK Trash Culture with its flawed education system, look no further than the comment of GraveDave. Instead of responding “I won’t be making that mistake again” he tries to justify the justify the misspelling of the former leader of the opposition’s surname by claiming,
            a) that spelling is optional, using a completely illogical example of US and UK spelling differences, and
            b) by claiming that spelling errors really don’t matter.
            Essentially claiming that protecting the fragile ego from justified castigation is more important that spelling a family name correctly. While you may believe that two plus two equals four, it is important not to state this too robustly, because others may be of a different opinion and may well be offended. This is a consequence of dropping discussion and debate from the UK State School curriculum. Third-world nation status beckons, Britisher pals.
            Jack, Japan Alps

          • Are you a teacher, or are you just an idiot?

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          You’re full of shit you’re eyes are brown.

      • Callipygian

        Never mind, Jack. Just think how many times Rod has been called ‘Ron’.

        • pedestrianblogger

          The precise spelling of Millliband’s surname seems very important to Jock, for some reason.

        • Not on the Spectator, I don’t really think.

          • Callipygian

            You haven’t been paying attention then.

          • Why should I?! Mind you, if what you say is correct, it is probably no different from Petrie (H, LBC) being called Petra!

          • Callipygian

            Rod Liddle is called ‘Ron’ all the time. (I don’t know of Petrie.) It’s weird because even people that know it’s Rod still type ‘Ron’, and I don’t think it’s like typing/writing ‘that’ when one means ‘than’ or even ‘thick’ when one means ‘think’. (My brain confuses ‘that’ and ‘than’ when writing quite often.)

          • Maybe it is a Cockney thing, I don’t know!

          • Callipygian

            Cockneys may be a bit odd, but surely they can tell D from N…?

          • I don’t really know the man, although I do read some of his columns on the printed editions, very occasionally. I think he must had been on Question Time quite a lot (before Aunty Beeb, Menton Oxford and their multi-colour rainbow ethnic crew decided to drop him), especially in the early Noughties.

            Ron is more popular of a name than either Rodney or Rod, I suppose! Sure he won’t mind very much!

      • GraveDave

        It’s like traveler and traveller.
        Pikey and Gypo.

        • “Traveler” with one “L” is always ungrammatical and incorrect on this side of the Pond.

          Only one of the word refer to both groups.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          No it isn’t, Mr. I’ve Never Wrong.
          While there is almost no limit to the numbers of ways you can misspell a person’s surname, there is only one correct way.
          Brits double the consonant at the drop of a hat, which is why so many misspell Savile (as in Jimmy). There are legal implications, obviously surely even to the meanest intelligence. Are your eyes brown?
          Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

  • cartimandua

    http://www.vet-wildlifemanagement.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=29

    “Numbers of foxes will rise progressively

    Predation on vulnerable livestock will increase and become unacceptable in some areas.

    The level of predation on game and other ground-nesting birds will increase

    Nuisance behaviours, e.g. digging and defaecating in suburban gardens, will become more commonplace.

    Death will only occur through disease, starvation or injury.

    In the absence of management by man (“leaving it to nature”) fox numbers will only plateau when shortage of food as a result of overpopulation and disease suppress reproductive activity or a significant rise in mortality results. This does not represent a healthy vigorous population.

    Foxes potentially carry a number of significant diseases transmissible to man and domestic animals including rabies, canine distemper, alveolar echinococciosis, angiostrongylosis and sarcoptic mange (see ref Simpson, 2010 below).

    Control of the urban fox can only be achieved by a continuous programme of trapping and humane destruction. Urban foxes, which have lost their instinctive fear of humans, are more amenable to trapping than rural foxes. The practice of dumping trapped urban foxes in the countryside where they are unable to survive is both inhumane and harmful owing to the possibility of cross infection from urban to wild.

    The combination of shooting, snaring and hunting as was practised in varying degrees across the country represented a well-tried management system for the rural fox that would be very difficult to improve. Since the banning in England, Wales and Scotland of hunting with hounds, wildlife managers have regrettably been forced to rely more heavily on the less humane and less selective methods of control namely snaring and shooting. But if biodiversity is to be preserved fox numbers must be controlled. The current campaign by single issue animal rights organisations to ban snares is therefore not in the interest of biodiversity in particular the conservation of ground-nesting birds such as curlews, golden plovers and lapwings.

    The majority of rural foxes culled in the UK are shot using a rifle. But wounding rates using a rifle can be up to 48% and for a shotgun as high as 60%. Although killing rates increase with the skill of the marksmen, wounding rates do not decrease (ref 2003).”

  • Hamburger

    Whatever the arguments about hunting one fact is indisputable. The alternative methods of control proposed by the anti hunting lobby are far crueller than hunting..

  • GraveDave

    Kevin Pietersen is a ‘complete c u n t’.

    Hear!

  • Precambrian

    So whilst millions of chickens and pigs are kept in awful conditions, and cats wipe out the sub-urban song-birds, these class warriors are worried about a hundred foxes that need to be kept in check to protect lambs, chickens and the aforementioned cats.

    I’ve seen more brains in a sausage.

    Meanwhile, Rod continues to show that he’s just Katie Hopkins cross-dressing.

    • GraveDave

      foxes that need to be kept in check to protect lambs, chickens and the aforementioned cats.

      Yeah right. So it’s really about protecting lambs, chickens and cats.
      F u c k i n g hilarious you people.

      • Precambrian

        Maybe if you could make your point with reason, rather than emotive obscenity….

        • rodliddle

          I dunno, Precambrian – it does it for me. Your argument was another glorious non-sequitur.

  • Thaddeus lovelock

    Good one Rod.

  • Daedalus

    Rod, please do us all a favour and BUGGER OFF. I’m totally fed up with people wanting to protect vermin, that have on occasion attacked babies and children, to a certain extent I expect adults to look out for themselves.
    You wouldn’t want rats breeding around your house; nor does Mr. McGregor like rabbits around his vegetable patch.
    This is anthropomorphism of the very worst kind. Except climate change of course.

    • Callipygian

      Foxes are allied with dogs, biologically. Sod off yourself, you miserable git.

  • Jaria1

    Foxes are becoming more and more of an urban pest not only to pets but to humans so how long will it be before city dwellers call for a cull or in country terms a hunt on these animals that persuade some to fight their cause due to their close resemblance to mans best friend

  • Delilah Dimplebottom

    Until the entire country outlaws factory farming, I’m not interested in the “cruelty” argument. The hunting ban has led directly to loss of habitat which was previously managed for the support of foxes, hares, deer, pheasant – and coincidentally all the myriad birds, insects plants and other vertebrates that need the same habitat to survive. Basic ecological principle: in the absence of a bigger predator, raptors will increase until they run out of food; hence the need for a gamekeeper ie population manager. Why not plough every inch of land if the only beneficiaries of low-intensity mixed farming are day trippers with no appreciation of real ecology? Or build the ice cream pavilions and shopping centers they like – selling plush foxes and pumping out sewage? Land has to earn its keep these days; hunters have money but also appreciate the animal itself, not its plastic alternative.
    http://www.iccs.org.uk/wp-content/papers/Loveridge2006chapter.pdf

  • No he shouldn’t. The state already has an absurd amount of control over what and how people do things. Repealing this in ways that don’t harm people or property is always and everywhere progress.

  • Fraziel

    Since when, Rod, did the tories give a sh*t about evidence based policy ? I agree with everything you say in this article, and most others actually, but the idea that any political party will do anything other than what’s in its own best interest is bizarre.

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