It is great to know that, as I write this post, hunts will have met up and down the country for their traditional Boxing Day meets and will have been greeted by thousands of people who went out to see this traditional spectacle and to express their support for hunting with hounds. Locally, the Heythrop Hunt will have met in the centre of Chipping Norton and I know from past experience that the town will be crowded with pedestrians eager to cheer them on. A little further away, at Winslow, the Bicester Hunt with Whaddon Chase will have held their Boxing Day meet and this small Buckinghamshire town will have been flooded with well wishers and supporters. Some people simply turn out once a year to witness this part of our country’s tradition. For others, it is a weekly pleasure to turn out on horseback or on foot and to follow hounds always, of course, within the law.
However, the Hunting Act is a stupid, vindictive and discriminatory law and it needs to be repealed so I am delighted to read that a Conservative government will pave the way for a free vote in Parliament to abolish the Hunting Act. Of course, this requires the return of a Conservative majority at the 2015 General Election and that is still a matter far too close to call. What is particularly interesting is the application of the West Lothian question to this issue. The Hunting Act is applied to England and Wales. Scotland has its own legislation. Northern Ireland has none. Logic would demand that Scottish MPs should not vote on legislation which only applies to England but logic can be notably absent when emotion runs high.
There are plenty of reasons for a Conservative government in 2015 that does not rely on a shaky coalition with another group. There are also plenty of reasons why the West Lothian question needs resolving, leaving Scotland to pursue its own socialist goals – providing Scotland foots the bill for them – while England can enjoy a smaller state and rising prosperity for all of its citizens. Allowing those who wish to hunt with hounds without the threat of a murky, illiberal and discriminatory law hanging over their heads is just one of them.