At a meeting in Whitehall, central London, yesterday - picketed by a lone protester from the League Against Cruel Sports - John Fretwell, the chairman of the new union and huntsman of the Stowe Beagles, warned that any political party which bans country sports "will be scarred in rural areas for ever".
Labour has pledged a free vote in the Commons on whether to ban hunting, but Mr Fretwell claimed that such legislation would have a serious impact on other country pursuits and affect independent hotels and the rural retail industry.
According to the union, 90,000 low-paid full-time jobs are at risk, but the figure rises by another 70,000 if part-time workers are included.
Alan Loughrin, a gamekeeper and forester from Buckinghamshire, said he would be at risk from any hunting ban. "I might get another job, but when you look at the unemployment figures I doubt whether all of us could."Reuse content