For a long time now I’ve been trying to discover the position of Kingswood MP, Chris Skidmore, on fox hunting. Several pro- and anti-hunt websites identify him on their list of pro-hunt MPs but I did not have much luck finding a concrete position until now. Finally, Chris has confirmed that if there is a free vote in Parliament on the Hunting Act he will vote to repeal it and, by extension, bring back fox hunting.
This position is extremely disappointing, although not entirely surprising, and flies in the face of public opinion on the issue. The Attitudes to Hunting 2016 poll released by Ipsos Mori revealed that 84% of the public support a ban on fox hunting. This attitude has been consistent since the Hunting Act was introduced and in fact support for the ban seems to be ever increasing. Research by YouGov in 2015 found that every single region in the UK, including the Avon and Somerset area, supports the ban.
Mr. Skidmore’s response to my question appears below:
Chris attempts several times throughout the response to frame his views as more compassionate, more scientific, and more popular than they really are. Anyone who has witnessed a fox hunt or a legal “trail” hunt understands that this practice has nothing whatsoever to do with compassionate wildlife management. It is, after all, still legal to manage foxes using other methods. I don’t personally approve of killing foxes at all, I am more in favour of tighter security measures at farms to prevent contact with livestock in the first place, but nonetheless it is clear that farmers are perfectly able to protect their land from foxes in other ways.
Chris also cites a variety of complexities and contradictions in the act which make it hard to properly understand and enforce. He blames this on “political wrangling”, which is code for “lobbying by hunting groups”. To claim that the act is not fit for purpose, while simultaneously siding with those who are to blame for weakening the act in the first place, strikes me as a desperate hand-wringing exercise to justify his own position. I agree that the act is not entirely fit for purpose, but it should be strengthened and made clearer, not thrown out entirely.
Hunting mammals with dogs is not a necessary component of effective wildlife management or farm maintenance, but rather an outdated and barbaric sport only enjoyed by a “privileged” few. I urge Chris to rethink his position on fox hunting and side with the vast majority of compassionate voters in Kingswood and the UK in general who want the Hunting Act to remain in place. If you agree, please write to Chris using WriteToThem or contact him on Facebook and Twitter. Please remember to be polite and considerate in your correspondence with your MP. It devalues our cause to behave in a way that could be considered rude or threatening.