KATE HOEY, the pro-hunting, inner city Labour MP, is to be the new chairman of the Countryside Alliance, it was announced at the Game Fair last weekend.
Supporters of hunting said that it was an appointment likely to cause discomfort on the Labour benches, where the vast majority of MPs are pro-ban. Miss Hoey, a former Sports Minister – one of few who actually knew about sport - takes over from John Jackson, a lawyer, who built the alliance into a well-organised campaigning force. One of his greatest achievements was to bring 407,000 marchers on to the streets of London in 2002 to protest against Government plans to abolish hunting. Mr Jackson continues to fight the hunting ban in the courts and will remain closely involved with the Alliance when he steps down.
Miss Hoey, 58, was born on a farm in Ulster and has succeeded in reconciling support for field sports with being MP for Vauxhall. She has held the Vauxhall seat since winning it in a by-election in 1989.
Miss Hoey appealed to Jim Knight, the new Rural Affairs minister, who was also at the Game Fair at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire to meet people from the hunting world and other country sports.
"If he is serious about animal welfare and has an open mind, within a short time he will realise that the ban has made the animal welfare aspect of foxes much worse," she said.
Meanwhile, Conservative peer Lord Mancroft will become deputy Chairman of the CA. He has served on the board of the Countryside Alliance since 1997. Labour peer Baroness Mallalieu remains President of the Alliance.