Birmingham Diary: Save the bulls,whales, stags, hares, and even the foxes

There is a meeting on the fringe of the conference this morning which is fated to be sparsely attended, and not just because it is at 8am. It will be gathering of Conservatives Against Fox Hunting. Yes, that word is "against".

Tory MPs who opposed fox hunting used to be as rare as Labour MPs who defended it. Now there is a small but growing faction in the party who think it would be wrong or foolish to repeal the Hunting Act. In their manifesto, the Conservatives promised a free vote on the matter, with David Cameron committed to voting for legalisation.

The League Against Cruel Sports has a list of 19 Tory MPs who they say would oppose a repeal, most of them newly elected. Dominic Raab, Tory MP for Esther, is the main speaker at this morning's meeting, though I understand that while he is opposed to stag hunting and hare coursing, he is not necessarily against fox hunting.

But his local party chairman, Chris Pratt, is married to a campaigner who calls herself Blue Fox, aka Lorraine Platt, who is opposed to hunting with dogs.

"How can we influence other countries' policies on bull fighting or whaling if we reverse a ban that was put in place to prevent cruelty?" she asks. "I'm not a politician and I'm not in any animal welfare organisation. I'm just a normal person in the street. Nearly everybody I know is against a repeal, yet this is not reflected in our party."

* After the Tory MP David Davis was overheard using the phrase "Brokeback Coalition" in a wine bar in south London last July, he attributed it to Lord Ashcroft, the party's billionaire bankroller, but at a meeting last night, Mr Davis outed himself as the perpetrator. "Somebody once said about America, 'This country has two great things, freedom of speech and the wisdom never to use it'," he said. "Well, as the author of the Brokeback Coalition joke, I know just what he meant."

Quote of the day

"Listening to Boris was like hearing Posh Spice sing. Everyone on stage froze, and everyone in the audience cheered."

An unnamed minister sees a resemblance between Mrs Beckham and the Mayor of London.

Duncan back for more punishment

Last year, a picture of Alan Duncan, now minister for International Development, was taken at the reception by the New Statesman, causing acute embarrassment. Every minister except one avoided the reception this year. The only one to brave the informal ban was, oddly, Alan Duncan. The hosts were so pleased to see him that he was called upon to give an impromptu speech. "I think more Tory MPs should go," he says.

What are they doing here?

You cannot walk far inside the conference hall without seeing Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown. Not in person, but in the form of very large blow-up pictures, each with a caption to remind you that they used to work together. Conservative spin doctors are hoping the former prime minister's unpopularity will rub off on his protégé.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments