Letters: The hunting ban has saved hardly a single fox



As a lifelong pastoral farmer with no interest in "country sports", I suggest the level to which the urban public is misled about the British countryside is made clear by your naive leading article on the fox-hunting ban, concluding "... the only winner – if there is one – is the fox" (27 December).

Since the hunting ban, the regulation of fox numbers has been transferred from fox hunters (who wish to maintain a reasonable fox population) to gamekeepers whose job is to reduce the fox population to near zero by means of snares, poison and high-risk night-time shooting with rifles.

Those decent urban souls who think the ban has "saved" foxes could not be more mistaken. Even if the ban were lifted, many packs of hounds across Britain would struggle even to find a live fox. In fact, most landowners would now make the hunt unwelcome, not only because the hounds might disturb snares, but also because the game-shooting business brings in money from wealthy bankers.

The RSPCA and other animal welfare bodies are dishonest in pretending the hunting ban has "saved" foxes. And the so-called Countryside Alliance is a sham body dedicated to making the countryside a playground for the urban rich.

It has sold the weaker of its two historically warring groupings, fox hunters, down the river, so that its more powerful wing – game-shooters – can commit genocide on that portion of Britain's wildlife, such as foxes, they label as "vermin", so that they can maximise the other portion they call "game", and then kill them too.

Aidan Harrison

Rothbury, Northumberland

Unlike hunting gentlemen, I turned out on Boxing Day to support my local morris dancers. Normally, Datchet is a busy traffic feed to the M4. On Boxing Day, it turns back into a beautiful English village: lovely church next to old village inn, and on the village green the Datchet Morris.

Lots of clashing sticks and then a sword dance but nothing killed for fun.

Dave Nicholson


Recent reports imply that the Crown Prosecution Service is reluctant to, and does not, prosecute hunting offences. This is wrong. Where there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, and it is in the public interest, the CPS does prosecute such cases.

Indeed, since the introduction of the Hunting Act in 2005, 371 offences have been charged and brought to magistrates' courts.

Peter Lewis

Chief Executive, Crown Prosecution Service, London SE1

Wrong question in poll on gay marriage

Your opinion poll question asking whether Church of England vicars should be allowed to conduct gay marriages (26 December) should actually have asked whether they should be compelled to conduct them.

This is because the established Church must, under the law, marry any couple who present themselves, and this is why, if the definition of marriage is to be changed in this way, the Government found it necessary to exempt the Church of England.

As for Archbishop Nichols, his particular complaint was about the undemocratic nature of this proposed legislation. Gay marriage was not in any party's manifesto, and nothing has happened since 2010 making necessary what was not necessary before.

But proposals in the Tory manifesto, such as a more favourable tax treatment of marriage, have been ignored.

Alan Pavelin

Chislehurst, Kent

I was disappointed to read Dr Paul Marston's letter (28 December). I have great respect for him as a person and an academic. I studied under Dr Marston on his Templeton award-winning course, Christianity, Science and History, and I count this as one of the most important experiences of my academic studies.

As I had grown up as a member of the high church, but was politically and socially of the left, Dr Marston's teaching helped me come to terms with my duality of nature and taught me to look deeper into both religious and scientific subjects than I had before.

It therefore surprises me to see Dr Marston take such a dogmatic view on the gay marriage debate. The Bible carries almost nothing on Christ's view on the subject, and He makes no specific comment that I am aware of. It seems more plausible that those who interpreted Christ's words, writing them down in the letters and books which became the Bible, did so with an agenda.

Dr Marston's course touches on the historical context in which biblical canon was decided, about how the Emperor Constantine sought to regain control over his population with an interestingly timed conversion to Christianity.

Does Dr Marston not think it more likely that a rejection of the old pagan world of the Roman and Greek traditions (where homosexuality and bisexuality were prevalent) are more likely to be the cause of this bias towards heterosexuality than God rejecting those who would follow Him but find themselves attracted to the same sex?

Sion Hopes

Mountain Ash, South Wales

Your coverage of Archbishop Vincent Nichols' Christmas homily was misleading. Professor Brian Everitt (letters, 27 December) understandably complained that Nichols could have referred to world problems such as hunger and wars.

If you read his full text of 827 words (on rcdow.og.uk), you will see that Nichols related the oppressive Roman census at the time of Jesus's birth to contemporary world problems.

Nichols mentioned peace, business ethics, and the abuse of political power, as well as commending the "faithfulness of marriage". He devoted only 40 words to sexual ethics.

Matt Pallister


Scandal of our flooded roads

Since the floods in Hull several years ago, a common theme has been the contribution to flooding of poorly maintained road drainage systems (letters, 28 December).

Councils seem to have decided that keeping gullies clear is not a priority despite the changes in climate which have resulted in more extreme rainfall. The present legislation which lays a duty on councils to prevent highway flooding is not sufficient since it allows them to hide behind lame excuses of having a defined maintenance plan even when it is clearly inadequate.

With council budgets being prepared for the next financial year, now is the time for them to take their responsibilities more seriously and to prioritise surface-water flood prevention. If they don't, then I would urge central government to force them to act.

Philip Turtle

Stockport, Lancashire

A rare victory for the oldies

Robert Senecal's letter (19 December) reminded me of a visit I once made to a Brighton gay bar. The room being crowded, getting served was no mean feat, but eventually I was able to place my order.

I overheard one of two young things dolled up to the nines, hair encased in gel and smelling like a three-storey brothel, pass some comment about "this old git".

I spun the offending little tyke round to face me and informed him in a loud voice that it was my generation which had fought hard so that he and his like could ponce around in their skin-tight designer jeans, have sex and even go to gay bars without being arrested. My parting thrust was: "With luck, you'll be old one day too."

My comments evoked almost purple blushes and a round of applause from the other drinkers.

Michael B Johnson


How wealth gap really gets worse

Gaps are differences, not the ratios John Rentoul uses (27 December) to claim that the wealth gap is not growing. If my salary 20 years ago was £10,000 and yours was £100,000, you earned 10 times as much as I did.

If today our salaries have doubled, then your £200,000 is again 10 times my £20,000. But the £90,000 difference of 10 years ago has also doubled, to £180,000; the constant ratio has grown to a much bigger difference. If we all get richer at the same rate, then the wealth gap has to increase.

Dr Lawrence D Phillips

Professor of Decision Sciences, London School of Economics

Jesus was happy to be judgemental

Christina Patterson admires Sister Wendy Beckett for admonishing us not to rush to judge others unless we had never done anything wrong ourselves (Comment, 26 December). A fine sentiment, but should we not judge those who kill girls wanting an education, who commit honour killings, who kill homosexuals, declare condoms to be sinful etc?

Sister Wendy's call for peace and goodwill on earth is an uplifting Christmas message from the gospels, but would be even more so if Jesus had not also proclaimed that all those who are not born again and follow him will be damned to everlasting torment in a lake of fire, a severe judgement if ever there was one.

David Simmonds

Epping, Essex

Follow the French

A sensible alternative to the abolition of standing charges on electricity bills (letters, 28 December) might be to adopt the French model.

There, one pays a modest standing charge for the basic abonnement of a maximum of 6kW, but this increases substantially the more electricity is used. This makes an excellent incentive to minimise consumption and improve insulation.

It is a model that could be easily adopted with minimal administrative disruption. One might add that the electricity tariffs are transparent and available online, a feature not provided in the UK, where any enquiry regarding tariffs gets diverted into a host of incomprehensible "comparisons".

Jim Petts

Steventon, Oxfordshire

Tut-tut alors!

Sacré bleu! I was glad that you noted the birthday of my coeval Gérard Depardieu in your list of birthdays (27 December), but I regret to inform you that Gérard et moi were 64 today and not, as you put (twice) 63. Please correct for next year, as I would not want the Department for Work and Pensions to delay my pension, thinking I was a year younger. Merci.

John Alvey

Cranbrook, Kent

A lifesaver?

I have heard the proposed Russian ban on US adoptions (27 December) described here as depriving Russian children of the chance of a better life. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to describe it as saving them from the possibility of being slaughtered in their classrooms.

Adrian Marlowe

The Hague, Netherlands

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

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...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Wilbur, the pig who thinks he's a dog (Dom Joly)  

My hilarious pet pig Wilbur is more popular than I am — so I'll let him bring home the bacon

Dom Joly

Amazon's new 'payment by the page' policy will just result in longer but likely worse literature

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'