A long march away from liberty and livelihood

Share

Tomorrow's march for Bloodsports and Subsidies is easy to mock. The incoherence of its demands, the hunting horns, the fancy dress, the block bookings of some of London's finest hotels and the balls (not parties) to round off a day of waving placards against rural poverty.

Tomorrow's march for Bloodsports and Subsidies is easy to mock. The incoherence of its demands, the hunting horns, the fancy dress, the block bookings of some of London's finest hotels and the balls (not parties) to round off a day of waving placards against rural poverty.

Yet the strength of feeling cannot be dismissed so easily. It is a test of the tolerance essential to democracy that any society should respect the views of minorities, however unlikeable, privileged or apparently misguided they seem to the majority. Most people in this country both live in cities and disapprove of fox-hunting, but that does not give them the automatic right to dictate to those who do not.

Hunting is a curious activity, but no more cruel than any other way of controlling fox numbers and much less cruel than the intensive farming of animals to provide food for urban supermarkets. On this issue, genuinely one of liberty, The Independent is four square behind the marchers.

For the rest, we recognise that the Labour government has a metropolitan sheen, and sometimes seems unsympathetic to rural people. That is a sign of the durability of the class divide in British politics, despite Tony Blair's attempt to transcend it. Long-established rural families, rich or poor, have tended to be more comfortable with the Conservatives. Now they know what it was like to live in the inner cities under a party that seemed not to understand the problems of council estates.

Many of the causes of poverty – poor education, family breakdown – are the same in town and country. Of course, the countryside has its special problems. Farmers suffered from foot-and-mouth. So, too, with far less generous state support, did the tourist industry. But rural people find it hard to afford houses because they are sold at a fat profit to townies who like the countryside so much they want to live in it.

The only way to preserve the countryside's "way of life" would be to restrict the sale of property, and to ask urban taxpayers to subsidise uneconomic rural activities even more. That would be a negation of liberty and, in the long run, of livelihood as well.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Dom Joly owns a pig. That thinks it's a dog.  

I'll bow out. Let Wilbur, the pig that thinks it's a dog, bring home the bacon

Dom Joly
 

Forget charging by the page - with books, heart matters more than heft

Katy Guest
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'