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WDP opinion: Re-igniting the political flame

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 06, 2014

Never underestimate the power of the single-issue group

Comments (13)

Never underestimate the power of the single-issue group. That, surely, must be the message from the interview today with George Bowyer, the national director of Vote OK, a pro-hunt organisation that helped at least 36 Conservative MPs win their seats at the last general election.

Although the Tories failed an outright victory on polling day in May 2010, the party surely benefited from the 15,000 volunteers who campaigned on behalf of pro-hunt candidates.

Whether it has adequately repaid that debt remains to be seen. What's not in doubt, however, is that there has been no repeal of the Hunting Act under David Cameron's premiership nor any relaxation of the law which would have allowed sheep farmers in upland areas to use more than two hounds to flush foxes that are killing their lambs to the gun. That's just one reason that Mr Bowyer has for warning the countryside will be "hard to stir up" come polling day in May 2015. Others include persistently slow broadband and poor mobile phone coverage in rural areas, part of what many people – not just hunt supporters – see as relentlessly urban-centric policies from all the major political parties.

With more than a year to go before polling day it is clear Vote OK is biding its time before deciding whether to mobilise its not inconsiderable resources behind candidates who undertake to support the repeal of the Hunting Act. What it really wants is a manifesto commitment from the Conservatives to bring forward a Bill to do just that in the next Parliament – probably on a free vote. As Mr Bowyer cryptically puts it "If the Conservatives won another 36 seats that would give them a majority. But we haven't got going yet. We're just waiting to see how enthused people are."

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So is there anything wrong with single-issue groups lending their support towards candidates – and parties – that promise to fight for their cause if elected? Nothing at all. And at a time when politics in general has lost so much credibility with the public, promising to do something for a single issue group is one way of re-igniting interest in what politicians can do. If any party wants to take advantage of that, it needs only to devise policies that support the cause. Of course it must also deliver. Accepting the help and then failing to repay the debt is asking for trouble – as the Tories may soon discover.

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  • Free2opine  |  May 09 2014, 1:00PM

    Orion......George......you have had me roaring with laughter with parts of your comments. Your Thurs 9.46 pm especially. Unfortunately clueless seems to think that the words "perhaps", "maybe", "might", "possibly" and any other vague statement, that is made by various bods, is proof conclusive that it is correct. Oh and don't get me started on their "limited" knowledge of the law........very dodgy I have to say. Clued-up! has sure earned their right to claim the title of CLUELESS, in any media source where they have posted a comment. Prey is hunted by predators be it dogs, lions, hyenas or anything else. Whether the predator is followed by horse riders, at a distant, or not, would not make the slightest difference to the prey.

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  • Orion  |  May 09 2014, 12:13PM

    Come on, Clued-up, you're so nearly there. "Ok, Orion, I admit it. I was wrong when I said that the Burns report did not say what you claim it does."

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  • Clued-Up  |  May 09 2014, 11:34AM

    Readers interested enough to check exactly what the Burns Report says should go to the original document (just Google for it). The direct quotes offered don't fit with the majority of the Report's content.

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  • Orion  |  May 09 2014, 10:56AM

    Clued-up, the Burns Report says exactly what I said it does. I had it open in front of me when I typed it out. They are direct quotes. Here is another direct quote, this time from Lord Burns in the House of Lords on 12th March 2001.: "Naturally, people ask if we were implying that hunting is cruel. the short answer to that question is no." So when you say "the inquiry can only give its opinion, which it did ... in brief, hunting is cruel" it is, yet again, you who are wrong. There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

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  • Clued-Up  |  May 09 2014, 10:18AM

    Orion, the Burns Report doesn't say what you claim it does.

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  • Orion  |  May 09 2014, 9:02AM

    Misinformation, again. I amazed that your constant need to fabricate all this guff in the attempt to bolster your preconceptions doesn't ever seem to make you question them? Burns says he had little scientific evidence on the effect of hunting of hares and foxes, which is true, but he had access to a great deal of very scientific evidence on the hunting of deer, which I have already listed for you in detail - so come on, be honest for once and just admit that your previous claim that Burns had access to "very little objective data" was incorrect. Of course foxes killed by hounds are bitten many times - they are killed by many dogs at the same time, that's what makes it quicker. Burn's finding was, and I quote for the second time, "insensibility and death will normally follow with a matter of seconds". Within a matter of seconds - it's really not that ambiguous, is it? You are simply deluding yourself and misleading the public, by trying to perpetuate these fantasies that have been categorically and conclusively disproven - and yet you go on and on repeating yourselves like a broken record. And then, oh deary, deary me, as so often happens in these circular arguments, you limp lamely back to the first absurd claim that you made to start this whole debacle in the first place. I have already explained to you exactly what the actual and ethical differences between fox hunting and dog fighting are and you haven't even tried to disprove me. You are arguing a false premise. "I say that A = B, everyone agrees that B = C, therefore I have proved that A = C". No you haven't. It is fallacious reasoning. Listen, we are talking about animal welfare here. You are very eager to claim that if I am wrong, then what I do is bad for animal welfare. Can't you understand that the same applies to you? If you are wrong, then what you do will be bad for animal welfare. Bad decisions made with good intentions are still bad decisions. If you are genuinely concerned about animal welfare, then you owe it to them to be a lot better clued up than you are demonstrating here. You are not automatically right just because you want to be, or because that's the way you think it ought to be. The world does not work like that.

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  • Clued-Up  |  May 08 2014, 11:39PM

    The Burns Report states repeatedly in its pages that there was very little research evidence on which they COULD base their opinions on the amount of suffering caused to hunted animals. In the absence of an adequate information base, the inquiry can only give its opinion (which it did - that animal welfare in all the prey species was "compromised" by hunting, in brief hunting is cruel). The Burns Report says they think the animals often suffered severely. The University of Bristol study is the most authoritative study to date of the degree and nature of suffering caused to hunted deer; to the extent you can extrapolate those results to other hunted animals, the suffering of foxes and hares are likely to be similar. Incidentally, the post-mortem reports on the foxes quoted in the Burns Report show their deaths were comparatively slow, the foxes being bitten a number of times over several areas of the body before they died. There doesn't seem to me to be much difference ethically or in terms of cruelty between hunting and the appalling practice of dog-fighting.

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  • Orion  |  May 08 2014, 9:46PM

    Nonsense. Yet more misinformation. Lord Burns had full access to many scientific studies, including those conducted by Professors Bateson and Bradshaw in 1997 (Behavioural and physiological effects of Culling Red Deer), by Professor Robert Harris in 1999 (The physiological response of Red Deer to prolonged exercise undertaken during hunting) AND the subsequent study conducted jointly by Bateson and Harris together in the year 2000 (The effects of hunting with dogs in England and Wales on the welfare of deer, foxes. mink and hare). "Burns relied on subjective opinions" indeed... "Very little objective data to be had" indeed... Clued-up??? Made up, more like...

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  • Clued-Up  |  May 08 2014, 8:19PM

    The Burns Report won't help you. This Report covered very many topics (primarily economic issues to do with hunting) and though it tried to assess the amount of animal suffering hunting causes, it didn't do a particularly effective job. Burns relied on the subjective OPINIONS of people with experience of hunting issues (from either side of the argument) to guide his assessment whether hunting was cruel and whether it was more cruel than other types of killing. He had to take this approach because there was at that time very little objective data to be had. By contrast, the University of Bristol's study was a science-based investigation of animal suffering caused by hunting, conducted by leading veterinarians. Their study used blood and tissues taken from deer immediately after they had been hunted and killed, following short, medium and lengthy chases. The results were damning - deer suffer horribly when they are hunted, including when they are hunted over relatively short distances. There is every reason (and a little evidence) to believe other hunted animals (eg foxes) suffer just as badly as the deer.

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  • Orion  |  May 08 2014, 7:33PM

    There are lies, there are damned lies and then there are statistics... The public is of the opinion that hunting is cruel because it is consistently misinformed by people like Clued-up. Lord Burn's Inquiry into Hunting with Dogs – commissioned by the anti-hunting Labour Government - concluded quite plainly that when a fox was killed by hounds death and insensibility occurred within a matter of seconds. Burns also looked into ALL of the available research on the welfare of hunted deer and concluded, and I quote : "The available evidence does not enable us to resolve the disagreement about the point at which, during the hunt, the welfare of the deer becomes seriously compromised. There is also a lack of firm information about what happens to deer which escape, although the available research suggests that they are likely to recover". Presumably "Clued-up" is fully aware of all this – given their chosen username – and yet they deliberately try to mislead the public with rubbish like the stuff they spout above. I mean, let's be blunt here. Either "Clued-up" didn't know this, in which case they should rename themselves "Clueless" and apologise for being wrong or they do know it and are basically nothing less than a common or garden liar. I mean, honestly, this stuff is raving. "Half of the animals hunted are likely to die afterwards." Seriously??? 300 hunts, meeting 50 times a year, hunting, say, 3 animals per meet would mean, according to them, that over a quarter of a million exhausted corpses would be littering the countryside every year. You wouldn't be able to move without tripping over one. Certainly if it were anywhere near true, they would have so much empirical evidence that the whole thing would be incontrovertible – whereas, in fact it is merely delusional. Don't forget that these are the people who for decades have acclaimed shooting at night by experienced marksmen as being the humane alternative to hunting with dogs – but suddenly, with the badger cull, it is a completely unacceptable practice. What short memories these hypocrites have. The reality is of course, as Lord Burns concluded, that every method of culling – which forms an indispensable part of any sensible wildlife management plan – has "adverse welfare implications" and there is nothing to suggest that those of hunting with hounds are so much worse that that method of control alone should be subject to criminal sanction.

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