Fox-hunters have feelings, too

Colin Tudge would be more persuasive on the subject of fox-hunting if he were able to admit that his opponents might be normal human beings ("Why this scene is unnatural", 18 February). The assumption throughout his article is that hunters are muddled, benighted, not part of the modern world, obstacles to progress, destined for the dust-heap of history and, when it comes to the Beaufort hunt (of which I am a member, since that's where I live), just "appalling". That way of arguing, reminiscent of the totalitarian diatribes of the last century, is the best candidate that I know for the dust-heap of history.

Tudge is right to refer to the report on stag-hunting by Professor Patrick Bateson, which has changed the nature of the debate. But he wrongly asserts that this report was commissioned by the stag-hunters. It was commissioned by the National Trust, which accepted it. The Countryside Alliance then commissioned its own report - the Joint Universities Study under Professor Roger Harris - which came up with quite different conclusions. Hence Lord Burns, in his inquiry into hunting, asked both Harris and Bateson to join in reporting again. The result was challenging but inconclusive, and certainly very different from the things alleged in Bateson's name by Tudge.

Roger Scruton
Brinkworth, Wiltshire

This article first appeared in The unusual suspects

2002-02-25