I know a Lib Dem. A live one. And he seems okay. No, honestly he doesnt seem to have horns or anything like that (I kept a careful watch when he was combing his hair).
Hes a land agent, would you believe, and hes perfectly okay about hunting and shooting. (Has anybody ever heard of a land agent who isnt?) Hes also a county councillor. He and I sit on the board of a public body and he seems a perfectly reasonable, moderate, sensible chap. So, based on this painstaking market research, I reckon the omens for this new coalition government may be pretty good for fieldsports and rural affairs. Thats quite a sweeping statement to make on the basis of a sample of just one, I know. But lets accept two things: first, I like making sweeping statements (so there); second, could any mainstream political party be more anti-rural than Labour?
Yes, I know that a goodly proportion of Lib Dems are sandal-wearing yoghurt-slurpers. A lot of them read The Guardian, I am sorry to say. And yes, I know that the Animal Aid finger-puppet masquerading as the MP known as Norman Baker is a Lib Dem. But then, every village has its idiot. The Tories had Ann Widdecombe, dont forget. And by the same token, all parties also have good uns, such as Labours Kate Hoey.
In the final analysis, only one party was and is viscerally opposed to fieldsports. Only one party had a deputy leader who gleefully insulted rural people. Only one party banned hunting with hounds. Only one party sought political advantage by denigrating decent country folk. And that party is called Labour. Good riddance to them.
Maxims of war
Labour declared war on us. So we had no choice but to fight them. For Labour, we were a convenient enemy. They treated us with utter disdain. We were just irritating little mice to be trodden on for a bit of fun, to get the class warriors baying with delight.
In that sense, Labours war on us was not a particularly big deal to them. But it was to us. Labour forgot one of the maxims of war: if you fight a limited war against an enemy who is fighting a total war, you will eventually lose, no matter how many battalions you have. Willpower is stronger than steel.
Today, we are in a totally new situation. Some of Nick Cleggs MPs shoot. Many of them have rural roots. Individual MPs of any party may be antis, but no party other than Labour had us in its gunsights.
Laugh? I almost cheered when Gordons desperate attempt to stitch up a deal with the Lib Dems fell apart. The man was revealed, for all to see, as the leader of the Monster Raving Delusional Party.
Of course, the Lib Dems arent perfect. They have some funny ideas about the age at which a person should be allowed to take part in shoots. And, while they go out of their way to sound farmer-friendly, they have been quietly telling an entirely different, urban audience that they want to impose a Scottish-style right to roam over all land in England and Wales. Given the sheer density of the population in England, not to mention the current plethora of public rights of way, this dangerous policy would be a nightmare for rural folk. It must be resisted.
But then, all politicians have to be watched closely. We cant really trust any of them. The key distinction between the current coalition government and the last government, however, is that at least this current lot dont actively hate us. Most of them are decent people. Why, some of them even read Shooting Times…
In short, compared with the past 13 years, things can only get better. (Which party once used the song of that title as a campaign tune?)