I SEE that an old controversy has bobbed back to the surface of the Westminster pool. This is the Tory plan to relax the ban that presently restricts the hunting with dogs of impoverished young people. The chaps in their scarlet coats are ready, the hounds are restless. All that it needs for England to be free again is that the unwashed young should start running and then the hounds could be released. A strangled toot on the hunting horn, and they are off in pursuit of merry old England.
Man On Ledge could carry on in this vein, as it is rather enjoyable. But now is the time to admit my mistake. It was wrong to suggest that people on horseback wish to set the hounds on young people. It’s really all those pesky foreigners they are after.
Enough with the satire, however tempting this avenue may be. Hunting foreigners with foxes was only ever a glint in the eye of the madder supporters of Ukip (further satire alert, hopefully).
Anyway, there is no need to mock the foibles and shortcomings of political life when the Conservative Party is willing to do the job for free. It seems hot-headed of the Tories to jump in and resurrect an issue that bloodied them in the past, and one that all too easily brings up the sort of associations more modern Tories would rather everyone forgot.
A free vote on repealing the law is due in the Commons tomorrow*, as promised in the Tory manifesto. It is good to keep promises, but the noisy glee with which some Tories approach this matter is unseemly, especially as plenty among their number disapprove of hunting and may well vote against the contentious motion.
The Conservatives have a majority of twelve, a small advantage, although any majority helps. Such a lead in the Westminster mathematics allows a party to push matters in the desired direction, but it shouldn’t be taken as a blanket mandate from the country. People still don’t exactly love the Tories, but when it came to voting they trusted Labour even less. Such a slight victory should leave sensible heads to acknowledge that they are not loved by all but are instead tolerated in the name of pragmatism.
Victory in tomorrow’s now shelved vote wasn’t certain to start with, thanks to those Tory MPs who oppose foxhunting, including sports minister Tracey Crouch. It was even less certain after SNP members decided to vote against lifting the ban – even though it only covers England and Wales.
According to one report, Scottish MPs have been inundated by English voters saying they would holiday in Scotland and buy more whisky if they vote against the repeal of the hunting ban. Well, who doesn’t like malt whisky or holidays in Scotland? However, the logic here does seem to be malleable, allowing SNP MPs to cause problems on the slimmest of excuses.
The bigger reason is that the SNP feels the Scotland Bill imposing English votes for English laws would make representation of Scotland a second-class affair at Westminster.
Amid all the loud politicking, one part of my satirical scenario risks being forgotten. Last week’s Budget really did hit the young, and especially the impoverished young, hardest by targeting money and resources at the older generations.
And it’s not me saying that, but the Intergenerational Foundation, which reports a widening of the so-called fairness index between people under 30 and over 60.
Man On Ledge is much nearer to the second of those figures than the first, but still believes this to be an alarming finding.
* True at time of original publication, yet hours later the Government withdrew the vote because they feared losing it thanks to the SNP intervention. This matter is expected to bob back into the Westminster pool in the autumn, at which date these satirical asides and other observations should still apply.