Today is the last day before the ban on hunting with hounds becomes law. The last challenge in the High Court has been dismissed, and nothing can now stop the ban coming into force. Not surprisingly, every hunt in the country is expected to be out and about today. If you are a fox, you might do well to stay in bed today.
This law has generated a lot of protest, and there have been threats of widespread disobediance. With this in mind, there have been a lot of interviews with the police in the press, asking how they are going to be enforcing the law when it comes into force. The police have in the main been keen to indicate that they will not be spending their time following illegal hunts, and making arrests over the corpses of foxes as they are torn limb from limb by a pack of slavering hounds. They have stressed that there will be prosecutions if the law is broken, but that they prefer to spend their time working with the hunts to make sure that they understand the law, and that if they do go out (say to go drag hunting), they will be able to do so within the bounds of the law and thus under the protection of the law. The maximum penalty for breaking this law is a fine of £5000.
I think the bottom line is that the police aren't sure how they can practically enforce this law, and are hoping that the hunts stay the right side of the law.
I do not approve of fox hunting. I like foxes. I do not have much sympathy for many of these people, because I dislike what I see of them. I do not believe that the countryside will fall apart without the patronage and good husbandry of the hunts. I do not believe there will be widespread countryside unemployment. I do not believe that the country will be held to ransom by packs of marauding foxes, their populations no longer humanely controlled by packs of dogs and posh people on horses. I have little patience for the threats of mass public protest either. What makes these people think they have the right to simply pick and choose the laws that they obey?
"Oh, Margot and I do find it difficult to get to Newbury, so we think a bypass would be a great idea, and they should dig that Swampy chap out of his tunnel with a JCB and throw him to the dogs. What what?"
"Ban hunting? Are they mad? I shall be out there as usual on Saturday and they can just try and stop me!"
What the hell gives them the right?
Having said all of that.... I do have a liberal pang of guilt about the fact that I am quite happy to watch an activity that thousands of people love, that is a centuries old tradition being swept into the dustbin of history by a metropolitan government. What happens if Labour choose something I do care about next? What if they try and take us into a disastrous and unjustified war?