OPPOSITION LEADER Iain Duncan Smith has pledged to repeal any hunting ban imposed by Labour, should the Tories ever regain power. Mr Duncan Smith has nailed his partys pro-hunting colours firmly to the mast by joining this months Countryside March in central London along with his family.
He is likely to be criticised by Labour MPs because in the past he has attacked Tony Blair for making public appearances with his children. However, Mr Duncan Smiths wife Betsy and his two daughters made it clear that they supported the pro-hunt camp and wished to attend the March on September 22nd.
By attending the march through London Mr Duncan Smith knows that he will invite the attention of photographers. He is still unsure about whether to try to avoid them or not. One thing is clear, however, by attending the March, Mr Duncan-Smith has ensured that it will be difficult for other parties to avoid acknowledging the March and its significance.
Tory leader does not hunt, but he is a passionate fisherman
and occasionally shoots. He is adamant that hunting is an
issue of personal liberty and is clear that the Governments
stance is his main reason for attending. His family does not
hunt, but they do sometimes watch the Waddon Chase hunt riding
over the 2,200-acre Buckinghamshire estate owned by
Mr Duncan Smith said: "This is all about freedom . . . Hunting is not an oppressive pastime."
He said that the issue had nothing to do with animal cruelty and that the debate had been motivated "by certain people who want to criminalise people in the countryside.
"This is just a class war and it is about people on horses in red coats."
Mr Duncan Smith said that the only sensible outcome was to allow hunting to continue and for hunts to "clean up their act" under the proposed Independent Supervisory Authority on Hunting. If that was not voted for in Parliament, he would reluctantly back a "middle-way" licensing system.
He said that if Parliament voted for a hunting ban, a future Conservative Government under his leadership would repeal "such an unjust law". Mr Duncan Smith said that he did not believe that hunt campaigners should engage in a campaign of civil disobedience. "I would not support it. I believe in upholding the law and if the law is bad, then to change it."
He asked how such a vast part of the country could be criminalised. "It is absurd and that would be bad law. I think people in the countryside even those who do not hunt, and that is the majority supported the right of people to do so. They see this onslaught on hunting as part of the chipping away of the fabric of what makes a rural person."