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9 May 2017

If we’re going to talk about fox-hunting again, let’s be honest about it

Fox-hunting is already legal. That's not what the Tories want to bring back. 

By Stephen Bush

Vote Labour, or the fox gets it. That Labour party campaign was mocked when they put it on leaflets in the Eddisbury by-election in 1998, but they may now be able to roll it out nationwide. Theresa May has announced that she remains in favour of fox-hunting and if the polls are borne out and the Conservatives are given a thumping majority, fox-hunting will be back.

Which means that even if it doesn’t become an election issue – which is unlikely because although more than 80 per cent of people oppose it, the subject takes a distant backseat to the condition of the economy, the public services and so on – we will likely be back debating fox-hunting very soon.

Just a small thing to remember when that happens, and it’s to avoid the thing I’ve done three times in the article: to call it “fox-hunting”. If you are a farmer and you need to stop foxes from preying on your livestock or spreading disease, if you live in the city and your garden has been overrun, or your bins are being overturned, you can still shoot or trap those foxes.

What you can’t do is don a silly outfit and chase a fox through the countryside and get your dogs to rip it apart while it’s still alive. So when May says she wants to “bring back fox-hunting” what she is actually saying is “I think you should be able to kill foxes by getting dogs to rip them limb from limb”.

If we are going to have this silly debate, let’s at least be clear about what we’re debating. 

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