The Socialist Unity Network
back

For Fox Sake

Rupert Mallin


 

 

Fox hunting politicised me. At thirteen, I was milling around in the playground of Clare Secondary Modern School, West Suffolk, way back in 1967, when a number of us children spotted the hunt on the horizon, chasing an invisible fox. Quickly the fox turned into a visible dot, growing bigger, as it changed direction and headed straight towards the school. We all watched as the tired and terrified fox leapt 12 feet up and over the fence skirting the playground. Only a few of the fit beagles managed to get over the fence, while the fat dogs and their whip-cracking masters yelped and shouted behind it. The fox was corned and then half-ripped to pieces before our eyes. Arrogantly, the leader of the hunt climbed the fence, huffing and puffing, pushed children and dogs aside, grabbed the bloodied but kicking fox and threw it back over the fence for the pack to finish off.

 

In 1967 over 20% of the children's fathers worked on the land. However, I only found one person in the school who supported hunting after this event. Not only the children cried. We had a Hindi supply teacher who wept openly because, in terms of reincarnation, a human soul had been brutally torn asunder. All in one day I had seen the pointless savagery of the hunt, the utter arrogance of toffs and engaged with the Hindu religion which seemed entirely more compassionate than Christianity. Indeed, nothing of the incident was ever mentioned in our Christian assembly, and nothing appeared in the local paper and no apology, particularly to the children, was ever made. Yet, at a personal level - remembering I was 13 - I became a tad rebellious at school and hammered on and on about the importance of the Labour Party...

 

Err, but this incident happened under a Labour government?

 

***

 

After a deliberate delay of seven years, it appears the Labour government has finally banned fox hunting - this potent symbol of the old aristocracy meeting with the new ruling class's thirst for a brutal sport to show town dwellers that those who own the land (and the beasts and fruit upon it) own them too. Yet, the 18 month delay in implementing the ban says everything about Blair, this government and the Labour Party.

 

Among Tony Blair's close friends is Lord Melvyn Bragg of Wigston - a Labourite who is fervently pro-hunting, standing against the vast majority of Labour MPs and the working class - like his friend Tony. I suggest Blair is closer to Bragg now than anyone in his government (or recently relieved of it). In terms of rising within the middle class to play within the ruling class, Blair and Bragg share fiscal and managerial dreams, their Christianity, nepotism over heirship and a love of the hunt. Don't dismiss Melvyn Bragg's claim that Blair was ready to resign earlier this summer because of a 'family matter.' B & B are close indeed.

 

Yet, pressured by MPs and party activists, Blair had to implement the ban on fox hunting but signal to his friends in the ruling class that a 'delay' in implementing the ban maybe the ban's undoing. However, who has enabled Blair's delay to the ban's immediate implementation? A large majority of Labour MPs - spineless in the extreme!

 

Thatcher girded the spines of her MPs (until one or two snapped), while Blair has become master in manoeuvring around the spinelessness of his! However, class forces, from right and left, are pushing and pulling the mainstream parties on many fronts. Lib-Dems were often accused of standing in the middle of the road where they'd be run over. Their rhetorical opposition to the Iraq war seemed to give them an edge but on the fox hunting ban their vote split down the middle (of the road) between countryside and urban MPs!

 

Within the Labour movement, Blair is being pressured by party activists and the union bureaucracy to provide an ounce of reforms in the run up to the next General Election. The Labour vote could go into melt-down at the election but just remember that Blair entered the 1997 election promising a 'relationship' between Labour and the Lib-Dems. Two landslides did not allow Blair that luxury. Yet, he wholly relied on the Tories to go to war on Iraq! Blair's view is that he could do well in a hung parliament - continuing the process of privatisation unchallenged, going to war at leisure, retaining his nepotistic House of Lords and legalising fox hunting for his friends.

 

On every front - from war to a symbolic fox hunt ban - it has never been a more important time to build a socialist alternative to Labour.

 

 

 

September 2004

back

For Socialist Unity ~ For Internationalism ~ For Peace ~ For Justice ~ For Unity ~ For Socialism