Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
29 October 2010

Why Tory MPs might save the hunting ban

At least 20 new Conservative MPs are opposed to the repeal of the ban.

By George Eaton

Tony Blair might have described the hunting ban as one of his biggest regrets in A Journey but not all Conservative MPs agree with him. Today’s Guardian reports that a significant number of the new intake are opposed to the repeal of the ban.

And there’s a range of impressive on-the-record quotes from Tory MPs to support the claim:

Richard Harrington, MP for Watford: “I’m in favour of country sports, but I don’t think it’s setting a good example to anyone by ripping animals to pieces as a form of entertainment.”

Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove and Portslade: “I think there’s enough of us to ensure that the ban will remain. A lot of people who decided not to vote Conservative will be surprised to find that it’s Conservatives who will stop it. Enough soundings have been taken to realise that things would stay as they are if there was a vote. There may be even more than 20 [anti-hunting] Conservatives. I haven’t spoken to all but those I have spoken to are certain. Most of them are from the new intake.”

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes: “The overwhelming majority [in my constituency] are not in favour of hunting with hounds and I would vote against it. I’m not sure it’s about city versus countryside or it’s the younger generation: some of those who feel most passionately are older people.”

There’s even a little-known group called “Conservatives Against Fox Hunting” claiming to represent “the two-thirds of Conservative supporters and the 75% of the general population who are against the repeal of the Hunting Act 2004”. The days when only Ann Widdecombe and five other Tory MPs supported the ban are long gone.

By contrast, David Cameron has persistently argued that the ban was “a mistake” and has promised to offer MPs a free vote on legalising hunting with dogs. But at a time when the Tory grassroots are already exercised by Cameron’s “EU betrayal”, the news that the hunting ban may be here to stay won’t go down well at all.