Most British people support the 2004 ban on fox hunting, and even people living in rural areas share this tendency
The Conservative party manifesto will include a commitment to repealing the ban on fox hunting with hounds, the Telegraph recently reported. The news came on Boxing Day, traditionally the biggest day in hunting. Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet minister given the job of drawing up the manifesto, has agreed to commit to a free vote on 2004’s Hunting Act, which outlawed the hunting of foxes and a number of other wild animals with hounds.
Two years before the Commons vote, 400,000 people joined the ‘Liberty and Livelihood’ march in London, calling broadly on the then Labour government to recognise the needs of rural communities, but primarily to express opposition to the hunting ban. At the time of the vote in 2004, however, 61% supported Parliament’s decision to outlaw fox hunting, while 30% opposed it.
New YouGov research finds that British people still oppose the ban, by 51-33%, however tempers have cooled on the issue as fewer now have an opinion (84% compared to 91% in 2004).
The issue is still highly political, with Conservative voters opposing the ban by 44-35% and Labour voters supporting it by 64-25%. UKIP voters also favour the ban, though by a smaller margin of 48-38%.
Support for the ban, though slightly higher in urban areas (52%), even exists in rural areas (49%).
The Conservatives previously said in their 2010 manifesto that “The Hunting Act has proved unworkable. A Conservative government will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the hunting act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time”, however the pledge has not been delivered. As it stands, the Hunting Act permits up to two dogs to flush a fox towards someone who will shoot it, however it can be difficult to stop the dogs killing the fox themselves.