I'd never been to a hunting 'meet' until the Labour Government forced through their despicable ban on hunting with dogs in Spring 2005. I've never been out with hounds and can safely write that I never will. I haven't even carried a gun or a fishing rod for pleasure since I was 20 years old. But I considered it my moral duty to join the perhaps 1000 people who watched over 60 horses ride off with the hounds from the Royal Oak in Welshpool this morning. It was a magnificent sight - and the applause ringing out from supporters on both sides of Broad Street as the hunt galloped off made the hair on the back of my neck tingle. Nothing to do with hunting. Just so wonderful to see so many country people showing their utter contempt for a despicable law. I've been to every Boxing Day 'meet' since the 'Hunting with Dogs Act' was proposed - and I shall carry on going until the Act is repealed.
And I am far from alone. OK, there are plenty of people who oppose hunting with dogs - but across the land there are thousands like me who have experienced a blossoming of enthusiasm for hunting arise from the unscientific prejudice that spawned the Hunting Act. The excellent Charles Clover writes about the resurgence in interest in hunting in today's Telegraph. It seems that women and children are now joining hunts in their droves. The sport is more popular than it has been for decades.
This issue is plastered in irony. The ban on hunting has hugely increased its popularity. The ban has persuaded hunts to become much more open and outgoing, thus becoming an attractive past-time for more people. Where it has had an effect, it has probably led to more cruelty rather than less. And the ban has brought a measure of contempt down upon the law in the minds of many law abiding people. The Hunting Act is one of the most unreasonable ill considered pieces of legislation ever passed by a British Government. It should be repealed.