By Jonathan Ridley
Reprinted with kind permission from
The country folk of this country are pissed off,no-one's exactly sure what it is that's really getting their goat, I mean, they seem to be angry about absolutely everything. You only have to look at the sheer number of farmers and folk who made their way to London for the Countryside March to realise that this time it's war Approximately 250 000 countryside marchers joined the march, protesting about what seemed to be three main issues; the proposed (but now defunct) ban on hunting with hounds; the livestock export bans and lack of public confidence in British beef(now I wonder whose fault that was); and possible cuts in farming subsidies. Even stranger than what looked like a mass advert for wax jackets, is that for the first time since the poll tax riots, it seems that a march has actually had an effect. MP's were only too glad to leap on the bandwagon( or hay-cart) and endorse the farmers' opinions.
As I was spectating some bloke marching past suddenly shouted "BLOODY TOWNIES!" This is someone who's trying to preach the understanding of others, with different ways and practices, and he's trying to pick a fight with the city of London! Now I'm not saying that everyone who went to the march had the same frame of mind as this guy, but in a way he spelled out the broader issue to me.
Prejudice This whole issue should be treated with a level head instead of with gut reactions and stereotypical views, the irate bumpkin is no more tolerant of the town than the town is of him, so let's look at fox hunting, let's look at the facts, and treat these issues without prejudice. Foxhunting is not a realistic method of population control, foxes are pests to farmers and need to be controlled effectively. Foxhunting is cruel to the animal, and people that hunt do so because they enjoy the social structure that surrounds it, not to control the number of foxes.
Less than 10% of the foxes that die from unnatural causes die through hunting, far more are shot or gassed, and if foxhunting were banned, the foxes would still be killed, they'd just shoot a few more than they currently do. The reason that foxhunting is so divisive is more to do with the fact that the hunters enjoy their sport, that's why people disapprove. Factory farming, cosmetic animal testing, more cruel in terms of the number of animals that suffer, but there's no pleasure generated, no sick human element.
Democracy? As it was, the bill to ban hunting with hounds, first proposed by Michael Foster MP last November was never given enough time or attention by MPs to be made law, although the opinion polls were in favour of a ban. Now I'm not saying that we should keep interfering with the ways of the countryside, people should learn tolerance of other opinions, and that means everyone. So perhaps the current situation is the best one for the time being, let them keep hunting, but let the saboteurs keep screwing things up, this is about the class war as much as anything else, perhaps it reflects that this issue has no quick fix solution. So next time you think about any of these issues, just think about the different sides of the argument, try to use the head instead of the heart, and you'll find that there's a lot more to these issues than meets the eye.
I spoke to hunt saboteur Dave Finn who told me that to him and to many of his fellow saboteurs that preventing the cruelty to the animals was the only reason that people felt compelled to say.
" It's nothing to do with class as far as I'm concerned, that's just what the hunters and farmers have said to draw the issue away from the foxhunting."
But it certainly seems to be the percieved way, that the foxhunting is lead mainly by the rich and saboteured mainly by the less well off.
"Class is nothing to do with it"replies
Dave"When you see an injured fox running past with blood all over it dying from exhaustion, then maybe you'll realise why we do it."
What about the march...
"Well, the countryside march was taken over and manipulated by the pro-foxhunting brigade, most of the people there were not pro-hunting, the majority of the people in this country are anti hunting and we won't stop until this barbaric act is made illegal.
If bear or badger-baiting were legal, or dog fighting, people would be outraged, and the same goes for foxhunting, there's no tradition in ripping a defenceless animal to pieces, or sport."
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