Adverts: 0161 709 4576 - Editorial: 0161 709 4571
Mail Order: 0161 709 4578 - Subs: 0161 709 4575 - Webteam: 0161 709 4567
Now Labour supporters say hunting not a priority

ALMOST ALL of Labour supporters say hunting should not be the Government's priority. A new NOP poll of 964 Labour supporters commissioned by the Countryside Alliance has found that 99% of Labour supporters think that there are more important issues for the Government to tackle than hunting.

The poll asked: "Which of the following do you consider to be the most important for the Government to tackle? Labour supporters responded: The NHS 34%, Immigration 17%, Terrorism/ Iraq 22%, Education 24% and Hunting 1%.

Simon Hart, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: "Anti-hunting Labour MPs have suggested that a ban on hunting would motivate their voters and the party faithful - this is clearly nonsense when 99% of Labour voters have other priorities. The real fact is that these MPs' own supporters think that they should be putting the NHS, Education, Iraq and Immigration well above hunting on the political agenda.

"The House of Commons seems to be the only place left where a ban on hunting is considered either important or desirable. The continuing obsession of some backbench Labour MPs with this issue will only add to the impression that politicians are out of touch with ordinary voters - and they risk making their Government look completely ridiculous".

Recently supporters of hunting yesterday threatened a campaign of civil disobedience if Labour MPs succeeded in a fresh attempt to force through a ban on hunting with dogs before the next general election.

As reporter previously, the Government has once again been put under pressure to allow another vote on legislation to outlaw hunting by more than 200 MPs who have signed a Commons motion calling for the "early re-introduction" of the Hunting Bill.

The motion, tabled by Labour's Gerald Kaufman and Tony Banks, Ann Widdecombe, a former Conservative minister, and Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, states that the Commons has voted on nine occasions since 1995 to ban "the cruel sport of hunting".

The motion calls on the Government to use the Parliament Act to overcome any further opposition from the House of Lords and ensure a ban becomes law by the end of this parliamentary session. This would mean hunting in England and Wales could become a criminal offence by next spring.

Hunt supporters warned ministers to expect trouble from hundreds of thousands of rural and urban dwellers if a further attempt to ban hunting went ahead. Tim Bonner, the Country Alliance's spokesman, said: "There will be a very serious campaign of civil disobedience on this."

Thousands hunt supporters have pledged to boycott the payment of council tax, car licence tax and the BBC licence fee under plans to launch a campaign of "civil resistance" against the proposed ban on foxhunting.

The threat of law-breaking by thousands of otherwise respectable middle-class citizens was revealed in confidential documents prepared by the Countryside Alliance and leaked to the press some months ago.