The General Election results – a sigh of relief for foxes?

I imagine if foxes could understand the news, they'd be breathing a very large sigh of relief right now. Despite all predictions, the Conservative plan to boost their majority by calling a snap-election backfired in a rather large way, and left them without a majority at all!

So, why is this good for foxes? We were dismayed to see the pledge for a free vote on the repeal of the Hunting Act in the Conservative's manifesto when it launched just a few weeks ago. We felt strongly that this would constitute a return to cruelty, and would be not only bad for animals but also completely out of sync with the feelings of the British public.

Including a manifesto pledge to potentially bring back fox hunting was a very bad idea. Some will even say that it cost the Conservatives their majority, since it’s such a divisive issue and is very unpopular with the vast majority of voters. Time and time again polls have shown that around 80% of the population, no matter whether they are urban or rural residents oppose lifting the hunting ban.

And the inclusion of the pro-hunting pledge in their manifesto didn't go unnoticed. It became the lead story for many days, and opposition parties leapt on it as a way to show that the Conservatives were out of touch. For example, on the campaign trail for Labour former Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Prescott got out a cuddly fox toy, held it up and said: “She [Theresa May] wants to rid this fox for us, she wants to tear it apart….She wants to tear it apart, for sport, for humour." Not exactly good PR. That story ran wide. The day before an anti-fox hunting protestor was dragged away by police as Theresa May arrived at a venue in Wrexham - the video of the incident made all the news channels. Then our friends at the League Against Cruel Sports ran a poll which showed that almost 50% of voters would be less likely to vote for someone that supports hunting.

But now, without a majority at all and with growing numbers of MPs within the Conservative Party vocally against bringing hunting back, it seems unlikely that the Government would risk what could be an extremely humiliating vote. 

While we whole-heartedly disagree with the Government's policy to hold a repeal vote on hunting and oppose the continuation of the badger cull, which all evidence suggests is not an effective way to manage Bovine Tb, the Government have been a real ally in their global work to reduce the illegal wildlife trade. We hope to continue our close working relationships in this area. In the absence of a Conservative manifesto pledge on a domestic ivory ban, we will work hard to get this back on the agenda too. 

And although it looks like good news for foxes for now, we'll keep our ear to the ground just in case. The threat of the so-called ‘Middle Way’ (a deceptive pro-hunt initiative to allow repeal of the Hunting Act without it sounding like it is being repealed) is still active. With everything that's happened politically in the last year or two, in the UK and globally, nothing will surprise us anymore! We also know the current law isn't working and some hunters are exploiting loopholes to avoid prosecution for illegal hunting and we'll continue to fight this too. But for now, we'll breathe a sigh of relief for the foxes, even if it is just a temporary one!

--PM

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