There's no better sport than a fox hunter at bay

OPPONENTS OF fox-hunting say that it belongs to another century but I, for one, am glad that fox-hunters have failed to move with the times. Urban foxes have thankfully not given rise to urban fox-hunting. It's bad enough having a fox in my garden; I don't want a load of foxhounds and stallions leaping over from next door and galloping all over my begonias. But what right do I have to object? We city folk just don't understand the ways of the country.

It appears that the pro-hunters were given a lifeline last week with the announcement of an inquiry, headed by Lord Burns, into the effects of a hunting ban upon rural life. It has promised to be neutral, although it is hard to imagine that any foxes will be consulted. "Hello Mr Fox, my name is Janice, I am doing a survey on hunting. You may be aware that it is currently the custom to chase you across the countryside for two hours before you are ripped apart by a pack of dogs. Do you think ending this practice would: a) improve your quality of life; b) deny you the fun of the chase; or c) make no difference? According to the Countryside Alliance most foxes would answer "b".

Poor Lord Burns will have to talk to all those dreadful people who appear on television to protest that they are not just a bunch of toffs (which they do in an accent so posh you think you are listening to a comic parody). "We care about life in the countryside," they say. Well, until Sunday evening, anyway, when they load up the Range Rover and head back to Kensington. One of them recently claimed that there were plenty of commoners on their marches, which was a bit of a giveaway because the word "commoner" is only ever used by the sort of rich country folk whose names, like their shotguns, are double-barrelled. This is partly why fox-hunting is so deeply unpopular. If there's one thing the English hate more than people being cruel to animals, it's snobby rich people being cruel to animals. I was on Andy Hamilton's team on The News Quiz last month and he said he was against drag-hunting because he thought packs of hounds chasing men dressed as ladies would be a retrograde step. This splendid joke was delayed half way through by the spontaneous applause and cheers. Suddenly ordinary Radio 4 listeners who had come along to see a comedy show were behaving like a fervent mob at a political rally. Such is the strength of feeling against fox-hunting across the country. They hate the people who are violent to animals so much they think they should be strung up - probably after having been tortured, just for good measure.

So why is the Government apparently dragging its feet on this issue? One moment it appears that the fox-hunters face imminent abolition; then the Government won't make time for a Private Member's Bill; then the PM gets them in his sights again; then there is going to be an inquiry. It's almost as if they are deliberately stringing it out for as long as possible. Don't the fox-hunters recognise these tactics? Can't they see that Labour is enjoying the thrill of the chase; that it is having political sport with country sports? The RSPCA would like hunting killed off quickly and humanely, but that takes all the fun out of it. The pro-hunters are going to be hounded all the way up to the next election. "Tally Ho!" shouts Tony Blair as he sets off in his red jacket and riding hat, galloping after the fox-hunters, followed by packs of voters all baying for blood.

Fox-hunting is that most precious of political issues: banning it unites the Labour Party; is popular in the country; will not be expensive to enact and forces the Leader of the Opposition into an embarrassing and untenable position. There can be few sights that gladden hearts in Downing Street as much as that of William Hague wearing his "look-at-me-I'm-from- Yorkshire" tweed cap, leading a march for the rights of posh people to be cruel. Public opinion overwhelmingly demands that fox-hunting be abolished immediately. And that is why it won't be.

So we can expect more marches to come. More fox-hunters coming through our cities terrifying all the poor foxes who moved into town to get away from them. Obviously it's frustrating that hunting still goes on, but there is something you can do in the meantime. The next time you learn of a pro-hunting march through your city, just you grab one of the protesters, drag him down an alleyway, and nick his watch and his wallet. And, when he protests, just say to him: "You country folk - you just don't understand the ways of the city, do you?"

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing