Blood sport blindness afflicts our politicians

Written by Tom Freeman on 7 June 2017 in Comment

The blood sport lobby try to muddy the issues on animal rights, but it couldn't be more clear - cruelty is cruelty 

Fox - credit gingiber

Humanity and compassion have been on the forefront of people’s minds in recent weeks, and even demonstrated by our politicians.

What a shame, though, that there can’t be more compassion shown towards the animal kingdom at a time when the enjoyment of inflicting pain and death on fellow creatures is as popular as ever.

And it even featured in the Conservative manifesto.


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The UK Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, who self-identifies as an animal lover, recently tweeted: “Fully committed to protecting rare species in our Conservative manifesto. Saving iconic and hugely loved elephant is vital.”

This is a ludicrous assessment of a manifesto which dropped a commitment to a ban on the sale of ivory.

It’s a mystifying move given that an elephant is killed by poachers every 25 minutes, as the march towards extinction gathers apace; and it is far, far too late for politicians to be worrying about their popularity among the crucial wealthy antique-dealer electorate.

Perhaps less surprising is the indication that restrictions on fox hunting will be repealed. 

Leadsom has said preventing hunters in traditional dress driving a pack of dogs through the countryside to chase then rip apart a fox “has not proven to be in the interests of animal welfare whatsoever”.

And Theresa May told some factory workers she was “in favour” of hunting. 

Trying to explain fox hunting to my seven-year-old daughter is a difficult process, because while children can be very cruel, they also understand cruelty should not be fun.

The hunting lobby argues that people who oppose it – the majority of people – fail to understand the longstanding traditions and pursuits of countryside life, that people who live in cities over-sentimentalise animals.

Even leaving aside the class element to that, these arguments fall flat because they are condescending and fickle. However you dress it up, cruelty is cruelty. A culture of cruelty. Even a seven-year-old can understand that.

Compassion is not ignorant. Finding blood sport abhorrent is not complicated, it is principled. It’s human.

And blood sport blindness is not exclusively a Tory pastime. The Scottish Government is considering ‘relaxing’ the ban on amputating puppies’ tails introduced in 2007.

New exemptions would apply to just two breeds and only if they are likely to be used as a working dog, but the British Veterinary Association told MSPs that “any concession would be a retrograde step for Scotland when prior to now it has always been cited as a key example of the Scottish lead on animal welfare”.

Arguments for introducing exemptions come from another community of enthusiastic blood sport fanatics. Evidence shows gun dogs who ‘work’, particularly Spaniels, are at risk of injury if they have a tail. 

But instead of examining the bloodthirsty practice that causes such injuries to these dogs, the answer instead is to mutilate the animal when they are born, and without any pain relief. The fact a dog uses its tail for balance and communication is inconvenient in such a job, apparently.

If your dog is suffering life-threatening injuries during your pursuit of the murder of birds, just maybe that isn’t the fault of its tail. 

Add in the corpses of driven grouse and the death of a number of inconvenient birds of prey - one in three golden eagles - as well as an annual cull of meddlesome mountain hares, and ‘countryside pursuits’ is racking up quite the body count.

Will animal rights legislation ever recognise the culpability of the human in the equation?

We are supposed to be special because we have reason and rational thought. Indeed, Scotland is famous for both. But there’s really nothing reasonable or rational about cruelty. 

Time for some humanity and compassion in the face of barbarism.




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