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Liberty & Livelihood March

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Tuesday 17 September 2002 6.21pm
long live democracy !

Tuesday 17 September 2002 9.57pm
what I don't understand is why the people who go on these marches use fox hunting as the main topic of debate, they must realise that the vast majority of people in this country believe that fox hunting is barbaric and no matter what case the countryside alliance make in support of it they are fighting a losing battle.

There are very serious countryside issues that these people should be fighting for that unfortunately get pushed to one side because of the hunting debate.

The frustrations of many rural folk seems to be the feeling that the country is very London centric (a feeling also shared with people in other cities in the uk) and their voices are not heard, well this is always going to be the case with what I guess is around 20% of the population living in and around Greater London and generating a large proportion of the country's wealth. You can bang on about wanting to make your own decisions about the way you live but where would rural schools, hospital etc be without ignorant townie taxpayers?.

Of course the genuine protester is not going to be helped in winning over people when people such as 'countryside fan' is fighting their corner with such gems as comparing the banning of fox hunting (not cruel) with the banning of football (can be violent).

Just to set the record straight countryside fan, generally football fans themselves are not violent people but a small minority are, now they do fight, kick each other and have even been know to stab one another, but the point is what they do IS ILLEGAL they are not allowed to do it and if they get caught they get arrested. And using Hillsborough to fight your corner really is sick, I think you will find that history shows that violence was not to blame for a single death at that disaster, the fault lies with poor policing. overcrowding and bad stadium design but I'm glad you used the loss of 96 innocent lives to vindicate the chasing and slaughter of animals.

Then of course we have the comparison of fox hunting and homosexuality that other 'strange minority pursuit' now I can't speak from experience but I have a feeling that there's usually consent between adults in gay relationships not sure the fox has the same lifestyle choice.

And the old chestnut, fox hunting is natural - no it's not in the sense you talk about, animals did/do hunt for food lions do kill gazelles but they don't do it on horseback wearing bright red coats and blowing a stupid little horn. Foxes kill chickens - yes they do but if we are talking about a natural situation for the chickens are we? when animals originally roamed the earth before human intervention then a chicken may or may not be attacked by a predator if not it would die of natural causes not as part of a Bernard Matthews chicken scumnugget.

So I guess what I'm saying country fan is fight your corner for better working conditions, affordable housing for rural families, greater awareness for townfolk as to the struggle that country dwellers have (I'm from a small welsh village and know what it's like) but don't use slogans like civil liberties when fighting for the right to kill.

Show a man how to make fire and he will be warm for hours, set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
Tuesday 17 September 2002 10.01pm
Like the cut of your jib !

Wednesday 18 September 2002 8.22am

I can see I am fighting a tight corner here, but I did expect that from posting this on an urban website.

David Anderson: 'Fox hunting is being banned because it is morally wrong for people to get pleasure or entertainment from killing a wild mammal.'

Does any of you fish? Shoot? These activities would also be banned under David's proposal. Don't worry; IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - an American funded political organisation) has an anti-fishing campaign running at the moment. After hunting will go shooting, fishing and horse racing. (Don't believe me? the Grand National has a large animal rights protest every year; horse racing is also targeted by IFAW and friends.)

If you fish, shoot or enjoy racing, you should be on this march, as we hunting people are the first line of defence. If we fall, you will be targets too. (and BB, this is why the number of people going will be greatly in excess of the number who hunt.)

Biscuit Boy. Apologies if reference to Hillsborough offended you. I merely pointed out that something as apparently innocuous as football could have some extremely anti-social results.

Also, not all activities of football fans are illegal. The 100 Tottenham fans, beered up and singing who borded the train I was on on Sunday were an extremely threatening crowd despite doing nothing illegal.

I dare say they were harmless enough, but no doubt if you were to add 50 Millwall fans things would have become less friendly! Is it really right to allow activities which give rise to violence. I seem to recall there is some crime along the lines of incitement to violence?

In my experience the small Welsh mining villages are the most fiercely pro-hunting people around. Since the decline of mining, the hounds are one of the most important activities that remain. Take them away, and you remove another essential cornerstone of Welsh life.

Finally, what difference does the red coat and 'silly little horn' make? The red coat is there so that it is immediately obvious to anybody watching who is in charge. The horn is there for the practical purpose of controlling the hounds.
Wednesday 18 September 2002 8.40am

Sorry, just another small thought, but those 'ignorant townie taxpayers' of Biscuit Boy's enjoy going to the countryside. They expect to see pretty green fields, nice neat fences and neatly manicured little woods.

Where do they think they come from? Why is the farmer wasting space that could be given over to growing grain by planting a wood?

The answer probably is that it is a hunting or shooting farm. The wood provides cover for game birds, so that the pheasants/partridges etc. have somewhere to live. It also/alternatively provides somewhere for foxes to live. Don't imagine that foxhunters want to see the fox erradicated completely; the fox is a native British mammal, and its extinction would not benefit anybody. Under the right circumstances it keeps down hare and rabbit numbers, which cause damage to crops. Very often, it is the old and weak foxes which cause the problem to stock. They become desperate for food so are prepared to take the risk of invading the chicken coop. These are the ones most likely to be killed by the hunt; the young fit foxes which are able to live a 'wilder' life tend to escape.

They key word is balance: a sensible number of healthy foxes is better than too many; too few; or an aging population.

The neat fences are probably maintained by the local hunt, which makes sure they are safe and secure, and easy to jump. The farmer is often grateful when a passing hunt horse breaks a fence rail, as the hunt will employ a fencer who will leave the fence better than it was before.

If you eliminate shooting and hunting, then the countryside will not look as pretty. You don't realise how much effort farmers put into keeping wildlife for sport.

Oh yes, and those cute little Bambis (red deer) on Exmoor. Why are they so healthy? Why is the population a sensible size? Well, that is because the local staghounds keep the numbers controlled. They cull the older and weaker stags, making sure that the herd is of optimum size and make up. Furthermore, the farmers are discouraged from shooting the deer indiscriminately as they know that the hunt maintain the herd as a whole.

This holistic approach to countryside management is what makes rural britain so pretty so that when the hoardes of townies descent on it in the middle of the summer, it looks nice for them.
Wednesday 18 September 2002 9.10am
hear hear countryside fan.
Wednesday 18 September 2002 9.43am
Countryside Fan is right to say that hunting in its various forms has been one of the factors which has created a particular landscape, but this does not mean that the continuance of hunting is the only way of maintaining this landscape. After all it is only one of the reasons behind the landscape -what about land boundaries, keeping the livestock in, land husbandry, some land being no good for farming etc. Without hunting, as long as the right economic incentives are in place for farmers, then that landscape will be maintained.

I am pleased CF recognises that tourism is far more important in economic terms to the future of rural areas than agriculture as was shown by the F&M debacle (there are statistics to prove this). I think that tourism will provide the economic incentive needed (helped along by Govt. where necessary), after all you've got to give the customer/tourist what they want.

I thought Biscuit Boy's contribution (as always) was excellent. For the good of the UK, things need to change in rural areas. The Govt. needs to negotiate an end subsidies through CAP, switch the focus from mass production of food to sustainable production, pay farmers to retire or change their line of business, make sure farmers get better prices for their produce from the supermarkets etc. These are the real issues, not the pusuit of the uneatable by the unspeakable (or whatever it was that Oscar W said)
Wednesday 18 September 2002 10.01am
At the risk of rambling... and sorry if you're getting bored with me

Is tourism more important to rural areas than farming? It depends on the area. In East Anglia, where grain barons dominate, then farming is a jolly good industry to be in. Without doubt, the landscape is shaped more by the shooting than anything else. In the Lakes, where a significant amount of the farming is sheep farmers with relatively small flocks of sheep then tourism is more important. Alternatively, a northern farmer with a couple of thousand acres and some high quality cattle is likely to do quite well.

Don't you think though that it is a little patronising to turn the farmers into 'landscape gardeners' for the countryside? Telling them to stop producing and to turn their farms into near-museums.

I agree it's a serious problem that requires addressing. But... given that hunting contributes enormously to the diversity of the landscape, aren't we better off keeping the hunt and saying 'thank you for helping' than getting rid of the hunt and then using government i.e. our money to pay for it to continue? Work done for the love of it is better than work done because a bureaucrat in Whitehall thinks it should be done.
Wednesday 18 September 2002 10.39am
CF - I suspect you are not in favour of rambling (in its right to roam sense)

Here are some stats from a Govt report (to which I made a small contribution) which can be found at:

in 1996 4% of the rural population was employed in agriculture, 20% in manufacturing, 24% in distribution, hotels and restaurants, 47% in other services and 5% in energy water and constrcution.

in 1996 agriculture was 1% of the UK's GDP comapred to 3% in 1973.

I disagree that it is patronising to turn farmers into landscape gardeners, they are businessmen and must adapt as the world changes around them. If they farm for love of their land (rather than for the money) then surely it would be a dream come true for them to be paid to produce a beautiful landscape? If we can stop spending billions on CAP, we can spend millions on building a sustainable rural economy. Whitehall is only there to put the a framework of incentives and controls in place - individuals and the market will decide how to respond (sorry if I've got distracted from fox hunting and the march).

I've just spotted that the 22nd will also be a car free day in parts of London, I don't know if that helps or hinders the march. I suspect that the marchers will not end up in Oxford Circus surrounded by coppers.
Wednesday 18 September 2002 12.00pm
I have just read through this thread. I am astounded by the language, the poor arguments, and the rubbish spoken by those of you who almost fanatically support fox hunting. None of the arguments work. The issue is a moral one. If foxes need culling then cull them. But cull them in a humane way. An aged or sick fox can be killed easily and humanely. But those who say that hunting does it better are fooling noone - will anyone credit a hunt as getting good and exhilerating sport from chasing old sick animals. No, they want to go after the fit animals who are going to give good sport. So unless the sick ones are killed off as a side effect, those are the ones that are going to be left.
To talk of the fox having no natural predators is also misguided, especially if the point is to justify man as filling that space. Think how the Japanese could use that argument to justify their slaughter of cetaceans - whales too have no natural predators. Is there a natural law that says everything has to have a predator, and that is the only way of control. No. Malthus has given a very good description of the factors that effect populations.
Perhaps those who espouse this cruelty will also justify bear baiting - Southwark used to be a large centre of that activity in the medaeval and tudor periods. I also love badgers - there are individuals who enjoy baiting them, and torturing them. I am sure they have their arguments, and rationals. I am sure that they probably call it humane. They then support their bloody sport as being essential to control the populations, and of course we all know what evil animals they are, and of course they carry many diseases. Balony, poppycock. And what about the fans of cock fighting - well it is my cock isn't it.
The point I am trying to make is that there is something seriously wrong, ethically/morally wrong in inflicting cruelty on animals for the express purpose of mans' enjoyment. And for every paper that says foxes and stags etc enjoy the chase, there is another that states the antithesis. OK, this type of argument can vere into anthropomorphism - but the only things that can claim any enjoyment are the spectators and participants. Anyway, I am not convinced by any argument that the animals 'enjoy' it. Lets get real. The only enjoyment is for a few wealthy sadistic egocentric . Lets wipe it out completely.
I note that public sentiment has moved away from using fur for fashion statements - coats, wraps, muffs, hats etc. In the same way that Spanish and Italian ladies stand out somewhat foolishly in their fur coats when they come to London, then I anticipate that we will look back at the barbarism of cruelty to animals with shame. And talking of the Spanish, they show complete barbarity in the bull fight. Surely noone can support such evils.

Mike Boyle
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