Animal rights played second fiddle to a wider set of socio-political controversies during Parliament's vote on the Hunt Bill. Rural communities attacked the sentimentality of urbanites; Left and Right polarised; the Lords indicated that they would refuse to rubber-stamp the Commons majority; anti-hunters denied the pull of tradition and pro-campaigners celebrated the link to 'our hunter-gatherer ancestors' (Evening Standard, 16/1).
While each group spoke about rights, there was a growing consensus over who was in the wrong. Tony Blair's claim to have supported the first Hunt Bill was proved incorrect by Hansard, and his timely departure to Northern Ireland was viewed as deliberate avoidance of the issue.
Norman Tebbit's view was uncompromising: 'Like a fox on the run - and twice as shifty - the PM went to ground' (Mail on Sunday, 21/1). However, it was an opinion frequently repeated. 'Over the past few years, the PM and his spin doctors have managed to create the impression that he is a devious, conniving and deceitful fellow who cannot be trusted' (Sunday Express, 21/1).
Analysis and commentary by Echo Research. More information can be found at: www.echoResearch.com.