Spent this morning at the traditional Boxing Day meet of the Tanatside Hunt outside the Royal Oak in Welshpool. No more than 40 horses this year because it was too wet to ride out on farmland. But around 1000 supporters lining the street. The numbers have been much higher since the ban on hunting with dogs was enacted. This morning, several of the attendees decided to share their opinions with me on numerous issues.
Quite a few wanted to know when the Gov't is going to deliver the promised 'free vote' of MPs on repeal of the hunting ban. Discussion had been stimulated by reported comments from N Shropshire MP, Owen Paterson that there would be no vote in 2013. Though I was very opposed to the ban, and would vote to overturn it, I'm not at all sure that I want a vote. Case of being careful what you wish for. I do think there will be a majority to repeal in this Parliament - so cannot see the point of a vote. It would only give more credibility to the ban. As long as its enforced with common sense, most hunts and packs can just about live with it.
Other issues as well. Serious stick for not deporting Abu Qatada. Bit unfair, since no-one would like to see his back more than me. Couldn't agree with the proposed solutions to the issue! If I did, the Mirror's depiction of me as a "Tory Gun Nut" would seem gentle. But I did agree with the general principle. Same with scale of immigration. for many years its been at an unsustainable level, but not easy to bring control without damaging economy. But again agreed with general principle. Also comments about the ridiculous story that BBC Wales ran recently about Welsh Gov't residual debts following stock transfer of MWDC housing in Newtown. Because I tried to point out how stupid this 'scandal' story was, I am blamed for it, though having nothing to do with. Finally there was much comment about 'scroungers on benefit'. always surprised me how brutal public opinion is. Again its the general direction of Gov't policy, even if not driven by the same reasoning.
Notably, there was not a single comment about 'gay marraige' or the 'Leveson Report'. Now, what messages do I take from all this?