Tony Blair’s foxhunting ban didn’t help the fox. That’s the conclusion of a new book, which shows up the failure of Blair’s 2004 Hunting Act.
Two decades after Blair announced his bill to ban foxhunting, writer Charlie Pye-Smith and animal welfare campaigner Jim Barrington set out to find out whether the law met its animal welfare aims. After two years of interviews, the resulting book, Rural Wrongs, says it doesn’t. It criticises Blair, his officials and the anti-hunting lobby for failing to test their own animal welfare theories. It pulls no punches, condemning Blair’s preferred control method, foxshooting, on animal welfare grounds.
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Since Blair brought in his restrictions on hunting with dogs in 2004, hunting has never been so popular. However, Blair’s law – dreamed up by animal rights activists – never worked, either for wildlife, for the hunting community, or even for those animal rights activists, who are campaigning to change it.
Animal welfare consultant and former head of the League Against Cruel Sports Jim Barrington joins environmental journalist Charlie Pye-Smith to look at the practical effects the law has had.
As research for Rural Wrongs, they undertook a year of conversations with country people, starting with farmer and president of the Devon & Somerset Staghounds Tom Yandle.
Meanwhile, Jack McConnell’s restrictions on foxhunting with hounds in Scotland are failing as badly as Blair’s. Charlie Pye-Smith talks to Ed Swales of Hunting Kind about his experience on the border of England and Scotland, where hunts have to be ready to change hunting styles as they cross from one country to the other.