Judge and Jury: Neither side in the hunt debate can look forward to making a swift kill - The recent debate over the hunt bill is a perpetual British issue which never had a chance of achieving a quick resolution in Parliament, says Martin Helm, PR direct

For the past week or so newspaper have indulged in an advertising feeding frenzy as both sides of the hunting lobby have moved in for the kill over Michael Foster’s Private Member’s Bill. But it has been an unedifying spectacle for observers like me who have little sympathy for either side.

For the past week or so newspaper have indulged in an advertising

feeding frenzy as both sides of the hunting lobby have moved in for the

kill over Michael Foster’s Private Member’s Bill. But it has been an

unedifying spectacle for observers like me who have little sympathy for

either side.



On the one hand the country lobby argues that foxes and deer need

culling to protect stock and crops, while on the other the usual bunch

of killjoys allied to the RSPCA want to kill off centuries of tradition

in the name of cruelty.



Both sides have a point and at the end of the day it’s a question of

whether it’s kinder to give the animal a sporting chance and a lingering

death at the hands of the hunt or a quicker but more certain death by

gun, gas or poison.



But have the two campaigns influenced the outcome in the slightest? Is

the only real winner the newspaper advertising departments which have

benefited from an early Christmas?



From the outset there were two known quantities in this debate. First -

the Government was not going to give up Parliamentary time in the near

future to such a controversial piece of legislation. Second - that the

sector of the British public which rarely visits the countryside and

loves animals is instinctively and overwhelmingly against hunting.



One thing we were never going to get in this great debate was rational

argument - and we were not disappointed. Yes, the Countryside Alliance

tried. The trouble is that demography’s against them. Most people live

in towns and the closest they get to green fields is an evening’s drive

out to a village pub.



They don’t have a clue what happens on the non-road side of a hedgerow

although in recent months the Countryside Alliance has whipped up a

commendable cross-section of country interests and, against the odds, is

making progress in educating people.



The opposition have replied with the predictable cheap shot - from ’the

lowest common denominator, the mutilated animal picture’ school of

campaigning.



Let’s not bother with rational arguments when rotting corpses can do the

job for you. We have to take on trust the accompanying captions.



Thank goodness there are only a limited number of campaigns that can

feature aborted foetuses or dead animals. It’s all a little

stomach-churning at the breakfast table for an audience that will never

knowingly let arguments get in the way of a good bit of emotional

blackmail.



But with a majority of 260 in the Commons to bar hunting, we will have

to face the photographs, and a few arguments, all over again soon

enough.



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