'We need safeguards to protect us from the tyranny of the majority: in this case a metropolitan majority dictating law to a countryside it seems to have little idea about.'
So writes pro-hunt supporter Jill Grieve. According to Jill the Hunting Act was about people and not animals, it was an attempt by Labour MPs to "take revenge for the miners." Really?
First of all let's deal with the politics of the issue:
1. It was a Labour manifesto commitment to introduce a bill banning hunting and that such a bill would not be whipped - MPs would have a free vote.
2. Not all Labour MPs voted for the bill and not all Tory MPs voted against it.
Secondly - and much more interestingly - what about the animal welfare vs people (class warfare) debate?
Jill appears to be of the belief that the hunting act was more about class warfare and not really about animal welfare at all. The truth is that the bill was predicated on the view that it is unethical to inflict suffering and death on wild animals simply because they are suspected of causing small economic losses to farmers. Studies undertaken by the Universities of Oxford, Bristol and Aberdeen confirmed that the artificial efforts at 'controlling' the fox population were largely ineffective and that the damage caused by foxes is insignificant. At public hearings on hunting with dogs held in September 2002, Professor Stephen Harris from Bristol University presented peer reviewed scientific evidence and stated: 'There is no evidence that foxes need to be controlled' and 'no method of fox control has had an impact on the fox population'.
The RSPCA argued that the bill was simply articulating in law modern society's abhorrence of cruelty to wild animals 'which has, for too long, been veiled in the bloody cloak of tradition and prejudice.'
So when Jill talks about the 'tyranny of the majority' perhaps she is really saying that she approves of democracy when it suits her. Does Jill approve of the national minimum wage, of the ban on handguns and of the ban on smoking in public places, or are these also examples of the 'tyranny' of the majority?