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Labour Party’s focus on hunting is ‘bizarre’

The Hunting Act 2004 was seen as class war rather than an attempt to help animal welfare, but Labour continues its ‘running attack’.

The Labour Party have been accused of pursuing a toxic culture war in the countryside after it announced plans to “eliminate” hunting within its first term of Parliament. The party pledges to implement a “full ban on trail- and draghunting” within its first five years in power, claiming there is not a majority in “any part of the country” that wants to see it continue. 

Steve Reed, shadow environment secretary, said the party would close “loopholes” in the existing ban that allow some types of hunting, such as drag and trail, to continue. Mr Reed claims that outlawing these currently legal activities would prevent hounds killing pets or livestock. 

Country campaigners have warned the Labour Party to end its running attack on rural communities. 

Introduced by Tony Blair’s government, the Hunting Act 2004 was seen by many as an act of class war rather than an attempt to improve animal welfare. The current law makes it an offence to hunt wild animals with dogs. But it is still legal to lay trails for hounds to track using artificial scents, which critics claim serves as a smokescreen for illegal activity. 

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said his organisation would oppose any new restrictions, stating: “Ultimately the countryside doesn’t want to have a fight over hunting again. But it will not sit back and allow itself to be bullied and become victim to a toxic culture war. 

“It’s utterly bizarre that Labour is still making hunting its priority in the countryside.” 

Lord Mandelson, who was a leading adviser to Tony Blair when the Hunting Bill was passed, has said Labour should let rural people “live and let live” and that the government should not pick a fight with people who “live in rural areas on things which are part of their everyday life”. 

BASC’s director of communications Christopher Graffius told Shooting Times: “Significant amendments were made to the Hunting Bill by the then Labour government to honour their pledge that shooting would be left out of the legislation. 

“These included measures to allow for humane despatch, scientific research and the protection of gamebirds. We must ensure that Labour does not resile from its commitment to keep shooting out of the legislation.”