Were you there marching through the streets of London in 2002?

When the Labour leader, Tony Blair, pushed through a bill to ban all hunting of animals with two or more dogs, the rural dwellers were panicked as to how much this would affect their future livelihoods, their life choices and how the future generations would change. 

Sixteen years on, how much has it really changed? 

Foxes are at their highest, moving from the countryside to the centre of cities, attacking children as they have little else to eat. When leaving a taxi on a London high street, ripped open bags can be seen, increasing the spread of rats and bacteria. 

Communications between landowners and their staff has been reduced. On an estate, there would be gamekeepers, stalkers and foresters who would be expected to liaise as to who needs what and when. Parkland would be managed to the highest quality, with nature being allowed to flourish to its fullest. 

Shooting foxes with guns has become acceptable, resulting in wounded and damaged foxes returning to the woods to suffer and be unfit for purpose. Being hunted, although some may see it as unethical keeps foxes in the best form they have ever been in. Fit to run away – ‘survival of the fittest after all. 

Could it be said that the ban has produced its own culture of ‘survival of the fittest’ in the hunting culture itself?

The culture has changed. The Royal Family cannot be seen to be out hunting or supporting it anymore. Hunts must now film their trail laying and send them into the Hunting Office, meaning that admin – although now more time is spent in front of a computer than in the field –  is as good as it ever has been. Landowners have more options to say no to hunts meeting on their land, allowing the ‘right of way’ access to be clearer.

Hunt followers are increasingly encouraged to raise money without being on a horse. With the increase in fundraising activities including garden parties, hunt balls and auction of promises to mention a few. Could this be the way to include more members of the community who do not wish to throw themselves over hedges of great stature and width?

The ban itself was a weak clutch at trying to keep the labour supporters on side of the most central Labour leader – Tony Blair himself – could it be described as a foreshadowing for the future of the labour party? Trying to convince people of what they ‘think they want’ without looking further down the road, to avoid the barrage of destruction. 

Written by Verena Bowyer