I never thought I would find myself on the side of riot police. But when the
Countryside Alliance descended upon Westminster to protest against the erosion of
their 'country way of life', and a small but significant minority thought it legitimate to
actually storm the House of Commons, I was, for the first time in my life, cheering on
the baton and shield wielders. It's particularly interesting that the Daily Mail-reading
classes are prepared to set such a disturbing precedent for direct action, and one
that will no doubt be imitated by the kind of groups they loathe and criticize for their
disregard for the democratic process: the anarchists, the animal liberationists, and
the religious fundamentalists. But the fox-hunters don't care about double -standards.
They're just trying to protect their God-given right to kill small animals.
The Countryside Alliance's claim to represent and protect the interests of countryside
-dwellers is patronising bullshit. The Countryside Alliance merely represents the
interests of people who like hunting foxes with dogs. They equivocate the interests of
the country-dweller with an interest in hunting, but there are plenty of country
dwellers with no interest in hunting; and there are plenty who actively oppose it.
Nonetheless the fox hunting issue is both a political and moral fudge. The
Government is keen to push through a bill that will distract attention away from Iraq, a
country that has been plunged into Civil War.The Labour Government has no qualms
about alienating the hunting lobby, a class which never votes Labour anyway. Morally,
we should be banning the intensive rearing of animals in factory farms before we ban
hunting. Chasing and tearing a fox to bits for fun, for all its savagery, is less degraded
than routinely chaining pigs in cages barely larger than their own body size and
devoid of any natural light for the tiny span of their decidedly unnatural lives, force fed
and pumped full of hormones. Killing animals for meer sport may be cruel, but so is
killing them for food if we don't raise them humanely. The fact of consumption doesn't
legitimize any old behaviour, especially considering that, like hunting them for sport,
eating animals isn't necessary for our survival.
But the Countryside Alliance can fuck right off.