Country Life

A recycled blog post from July 2015, hence pre-dating the resignation of the person below:

david-cameron-hunt

When you hear the phrase ‘Chipping Norton Hunt’, what word springs to mind?  The EU-loving, multi-culti Tories, with their slender Parliamentary majority, are desperately trying to shore up their ‘British’ credentials with their leader thinking that this can be achieved by repealing the legislation to ban hunting with dogs.  David Cameron himself is an Anglicised descendant of the species Torius Caledonius, which is in retreat from its suburban habitats of Colinton, Comiston and Costorphine to south of the Pentland Hills.

Other members of this species, the descendents of the Gaelic clan chieftans and the Norman-French ‘nobles’, regularly write for the Telegraph online, urging us English to save the Union from those nasty Scottish separatists.  But is not Scottish separatists that they really fear, it is English separatists, who want out of the UK – and the EU – and who possess no nostalgia for the supposed good old days of the British Empire when it was run by Scots as military governors and colonial administrators, when Glasgow’s slave trade flourished with the wealth generated financing its Merchant City.

The Tories’ patriotically ‘British’ credentials are spurious as not only did one Tory Prime Minister sign us up to the EEC, another one signed us up to the EU; but more than that, the government run by the one in-between sold off most of Britain’s national infrastructure and in doing so destroyed much of the cohesion that had held British national identity together.  Granted, this was already in decline but Thatcher’s government accelerated that decline.  It’s ironic that she was helped into power by Scottish Nationalists (something which they have tried to forget, along with their opposition back then to the EEC) and destroyed by Scottish Tories.

Not that we should ignore the official ‘opposition’ at Westminster which is now also trying to shore up its ‘British’ credentials in the light of its loss of white working-class support to UKIP, a political party led by and largely personified by a commodities broker from ‘The City’, who was previously a Thatcherite Tory.  The Labour Party has belatedly announced its support for a referendum on the EU.  Labour has finally realised that opinion within its traditional voting base is at it always has been, in modern parlance ‘Eurosceptic’, as mainstream opinion within the Labour party itself used to be.

Kate Hoey, Labour MP for the distinctly unrural constituency of Vauxhall, is a long-standing supporter of fox-hunting as a ‘British’ tradition; and she is a genuine ‘Eurosceptic’, possibly the only one left in the Parliamentary Labour Party apart from Dennis Skinner.  However her outlook is different from that of the Labour left, who have always been hostile to the EEC, the EU and to the blood ‘sports’ of Tory ‘toffs’.  Tony Benn, for example, despite being a ‘toff’ by origin himself, was a long-standing opponent of the EEC and the EU, a vegetarian and a staunch supporter of animal rights.

Hoey is an Ulster farmer’s daughter and like most Ulster Unionists her views on what ‘Britishness’ means are considerably more dated than those of Scottish Tories, who at least have a rational position for wanting Britain to be held together, with or without ‘Ulster’ (the two-thirds of it that remains within the UK).  As an Ulster Unionist she won’t admit it, but she has a distinctly rural, conservative, Irish outlook when it comes to animal rights.  Hunting with dogs remains legal in Northern Ireland as it does across the border in the Republic, making Ireland ironically more allegedly ‘British’ than Britain is.

To return to the Tories, Cameron must believe that he can win the support of the mythical ‘Middle England’ by legalising hunting with dogs.  He overlooks the importance of genuine sporting prowess – and notions of ‘fair play’ – to English national identity.  Ironically the Middle English shire most strongly identified with hunting (the same one that gives its name to the meat substitute Quorn) has adopted the fox as its emblem, such that its football and cricket fans identify themselves as ‘foxes’; and a fox being chased by a pack of bloodthirsty hounds simply isn’t cricket, with or without the warm beer.

leics-mascot-charlie-fox

An addendum to the above was that the vote relating to England & Wales only was blocked at Westminster by the Scottish National Party, even though it forms the Scottish Government, with hunting legislation being more relaxed in Scotland.  Whilst the SNP’s leadership is notionally ‘left-wing’, it represents many rural, conservative areas which economically depend on the hunting, fishing and shooting fraternity; so these rural, conservative areas of Scotland indirectly benefit from the more stringent hunting legislation in England & Wales.

Notes

Paragraph 2: For the disproportionately high number of Scotsmen running the British Empire, see Linda Colley, Britons, Forging the Nation, 1707 – 1837, Pimlico 1994, ch 3, pp 117 – 132.

Paragraph 3: For the Scottish National Party abetting Margaret Thatcher into power see Dominic Sandbrook, Seasons in the Sun, The Battle for Britain, 1974 – 79, Penguin, 2012, ch 32, pp 771 – 781.

Paragraph 5: Subsequent to the referendum in 2016, it is apparent that there are other genuine ‘Eurosceptics’ within the Parliamentary Labour Party.  At the time of typing all the above, Jeremy Corbyn was among them, but he betrayed his long-term opposition.