The hunting fraternity claims that those who are opposed to hunting wild mammals with hounds are “ignorant townies” hellbent on some class war. Such nonsense.
I once used to go hunting, I loved it and for seven years participated heavily in the 1980s. What changed me was that I witnessed a vixen dug up.
She was heavily pregnant and the terrierman shot her in the head. Alas, she did not die and was still alive and suffering. Then they set the terriers on her and baited her for a few minutes before throwing her into the back of the Land Rover.
Mortified in the back of that Land Rover I heard, to my horror, a sobbing noise coming from the sack she had been thrown into. At first I thought that they hadn’t noticed that she was alive, but when I shouted that she was suffering they laughed and said it was just the cubs moving about that I could hear, that she would die eventually and they were not wasting another bullet.
I have seen many kills but that incident was what sowed the first seed of doubt, because it was just so callous. I eventually stopped hunting, spoke out against it, became vegan and became an animal rights activist and hunt monitor.
Newnham on Severn, Gloucestershire
If Cameron and his cronies’ despicable Statutory Instrument is accepted in Parliament on Wednesday, a further raft of convenient excuses will be handed to lawbreaking hunts.
In addition to allowing a full pack to flush out foxes for “pest control” it would also give these countryside hooligans the right to set their hounds on to animals (foxes, deer, hares, mink) they can claim are either injured or “diseased”.
Setting aside the idea that the fate of any such animal should be in the hands of hunters, of all people, the evidence to disprove their claim of “injury or disease”, the animal victim, will have either escaped, or more likely been torn into pieces by the hounds, and anyone trying to retrieve such tattered evidence would almost certainly be met with violence.
Hunt terriermen, for whom it has remained business as usual since the ban, as they can currently claim they are digging out foxes to protect game birds, would forthwith be able to claim they were doing so for the protection of livestock. If they are asked to provide evidence that they have the landowner’s permission, they will have a full seven days to conjure it up, not difficult when most landowners are hand in glove with the hunts.
The main excuse for this carnage, that foxes need controlling, is not supported by respectable evidence. The fact that the Prime Minister is using this humbug to try to help his hunting chums is truly shocking. I hope all decent MPs will make sure he does not succeed.
Great Haseley, Oxfordshire
Tube strike was about safety
Mary Dejevsky is quite wrong to suggest that driverless trains are the way forward for London Underground (“Striking Tube drivers have shown why they are endangered”, 10 July). Safety has to be the first consideration.
No matter what the Mayor would have us believe, Underground workers were not striking in opposition to the implementation of the 24-hour Tube; nor was their action solely about money. For months, the unions had been voicing their safety concerns at extending the service without first holding meaningful consultation on the health and safety implications, and all this while ticket office closures and staff cuts continue to be driven through apace.
Running with reduced staff numbers at night, when the platforms are likely to be crowded with intoxicated and potentially impulsive youngsters, is clearly a recipe for disaster. There will be an increased risk both to staff and to passengers. Twenty-four-hour running is undoubtedly the way forward, but implementing it in anything but a fully thought-out manner will inevitably lead to injuries and loss of life.
Not 48 hours before the strike, Boris Johnson was commending the employees of London Underground for their determination and resilience in the face of the attacks of 7/7. Then, in an utterly shameless about-turn, he cast these same dedicated workers, who tirelessly tend the nervous system of the city every single day, as villains out to cripple our capital.
Retired people do want to volunteer
The decline in numbers of older people volunteering to help out at National Trust properties highlights a challenge that many charities face (report, 13 July). In spite of this, our research has consistently shown that people’s appetite to volunteer and support good causes in their retirement is as strong as ever.
With greater demands on their time, older people need better access to information about the wealth of voluntary opportunities available to them. The National Careers Service fills this need for younger people. If we are to avoid the next generation of retirees falling through the net, we should have a Post-Careers Advice Service too.
Head of Policy and Campaigns, Charities Aid Foundation, London EC4
I volunteered for the National Trust last year and even though I have a master’s degree in the history of art, they couldn’t even be bothered to reply. With that attitude they deserve to fail.
That £1m house is not ‘hard-earned’
George Osborne claims to have the two admirable objectives of simplifying the tax system and allowing “hardworking people to fulfill their natural desire to pass their hard-earned savings to their children”. However, in his proposed plans for inheritance tax he is failing to do either.
By promising to exempt family homes up to the value of £1m from tax he is adding new complexity to the already grossly overburdened tax system. He needs to explain why a taxpayer who happens to have an expensive house should enjoy this special exemption. After all, most of the current value of a family home will have arisen as a result of inflation during the past few decades and is not in any way “hard-earned”.
Other taxpayers will be aggrieved that their genuinely hard-earned savings, perhaps in bank or building society accounts or National Savings certificates, which will not have gained to anything like the same degree from inflation, will be taxed as before.
What exactly is so special about the “family home” that it should be singled out in this way? The Chancellor will remember that he has for many years promised that tax should only apply to estates exceeding £1m in value without reference to any particular class of assets.
It does not make sense for the house to be the part of a bequest which is subject to less inheritance tax.
Usually most of the wealth tied up in the house is not earned but merely a windfall from the vagaries of house price inflation. The owner does not deserve this wealth – still less do those who inherit it.
Furthermore, this policy will further exacerbate the housing crisis. It will encourage people to buy bigger houses and hold on to them for longer to avoid inheritance tax.
Don’t blame Ataturk
In Boyd Tonkin’s otherwise excellent article (11 July), there is one error that has some unfortunate implications.
Tonkin writes about the “Balkan mish-mash that Sultan Abdul Hamid II failed to rule until, in 1909, Ataturk and his comrades ousted him”. But Ataturk (then Mustafa Kemal) was not involved in the revolution of the Young Turks in 1909.
To implicate Ataturk in this coup would be to implicate Ataturk in the series of policy mistakes that led Turkey first to involvement in the First World War and then to the Armenian Genocide of 1915. No one, not even the Greeks and Armenians, has ever accused him of that.
First on the scene of an accident
It is right that Police Scotland are investigated for taking around 72 hours to investigate a crashed car near Stirling. But the member of the public who initially contacted the police on the day of the crash should have gone to investigate. This would have enabled a further call to be made to the emergency services to assist both victims, who have now both died.
The first person at the vicinity of a crash must take some responsibility to make sure help arrives as soon as possible.
Stand by for a Greek mutiny?
Continued draconian austerity for Greece is in line with Captain Bligh’s policy: “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”
Dr John Doherty