Editorial: How the uneatable became unbeatable

The nearly eight-year-old ban on hunting with dogs is starting to look like a classic case of the law of unintended consequences. A measure broached almost off the cuff by Tony Blair in opposition, cynically pursued by him in government as a sop to his left wing, and described by him later as a mistake, may indeed turn out to have ended a particular strand of country life. This, even though the former Prime Minister was so little committed to it that he did not even attend the Commons votes.

Now, with the Environment Secretary's admission that there is unlikely to be a repeal debate in the coming year, because a free vote cannot apparently be won, the increasing likelihood must be that the ban is here to stay. So much for David Cameron's promise, while in opposition, of a repeal. So much for the outrage of the Countryside Alliance.

With two Prime Ministers left looking rather foolish on the sidelines, the only winner – if there is one – is the fox.

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