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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: Portfolio Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has become known a...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer - Midlands

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Recruitment Genius: Sales / Account Manager

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales / Account Manager is re...

Ashdown Group: Application Developer - C#.Net, ASP.Net - Cambridgeshire

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Software Application Developer (C# & ASP.Net, SQL S...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot