Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Labour MPs vote for end of cruelty to foxes"

Having been conned into voting for war, Labour MPs saved their souls by voting to ban the hunting of the cuddly fox, as ignorant townies call it. I'm sure the thousands of innocent Iraqis killed in recent months would have been delighted to know that our MPs care more about furry animals than human life.

Following the vote and Tony Blair's capitulation to the tree huggers, the most telling statement came from a "government source" who said: "This shows that the government is listening to the Labour Party." And: "This will help us in the weeks ahead." So there we have it. The fox is saved to save Blair's skin over the war and foundation hospitals.

Kate Hoey, who was sacked as sports minister for upsetting Alastair Campbell's mates in the sporting establishment, was bang on when she told the House that deep down, they knew it was nothing to do with animal welfare. Of course, banning fox-hunting has never had anything to do with cruelty. It has everything to do with class politics. We all hate those toffs who dress up in funny clothes and chase foxes on horseback, but that is no reason to ban them from doing it. It's not clever politics either: chasing foxes isn't the preserve of the rich. Thankfully, in Scotland, the ban has been unworkable, and gamekeepers and farmers continue to kill the vermin that destroy their birds and lambs.

Our inner cities have been overrun by the vermin fox. But MPs like Tony Banks (West Ham) and Gerald Kaufman (Manchester Gorton) still bore us to death on the subject. Of more interest are those MPs, such as Peter Hain and Charles Clarke, who still believe they could become Labour leader. Naturally, both voted with the class warriors.

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