This barbaric sport shames us all

We may finally be witnessing the last death throes of fox hunting in this country. For the benefit of my overseas readers, fox hunting as practised here involves chasing the fox with a pack of specially bred hounds, in turn these are followed by a pack of humans on horseback. The hounds are selected for stamina rather than speed, so that instead of catching the fox quickly, a long chase ensues which lasts until the fox is too exhausted to run any more. The hounds are then allowed to kill the fox the only way they know how.

A powerful lobby has defended this practise variously as a “Country Sport” and an “efficient way to control the fox population”. Clearly most people see through this twaddle. I had a rat in my kitchen earlier this year. I didn’t call all my mates to help me chase it around the town for a few hours! This powerful lobby has friends in high places – very high places. The House of Lords is still partly populated by the landed gentry – and has found every excuse to block this legislation.

But today, the bill gets read in the House of Commons again – and this time the peers look set to be overruled. The Countryside Alliance says this is undemocratic. But banning fox-hunting was a manifesto commitment by Labour. Delivering on manifesto commitments is at the very heart of our democracy.

Many people say that hunting is traditional. I say lots of barbaric activities have been traditional at one time or another in this country and around the world. But the world changes. Blood sports should be consigned to the history books.

Tally Ho!

Policy and Spin

Very pleased that the draft manifesto has been launched
by the Lib Dems today. There’s a lot of fluff and smoke
going about at the moment surrounding what is and isn’t
Lib Dem policy and this will hopefully put some of the
more outlandish rumours to bed. And just to set the
record straight, the Orange Book is not policy (not yet
anyway!). There is no policy of dismantling the NHS,
legalising Heroin or any of the other rumours I have
heard.

The main planks of the draft manifesto really shouldn’t
surprise anyone:

  • Scrap Tuition Fees
  • Scrap Council Tax (replace with local income
    tax)
  • £25 per week pension rise for over 75s
  • Free bus passes for pensioners and the
    disabled

Nothing too controversial there then?

Why I couldn’t support Labour any longer…

I get a lot of email and feedback from Labour loyalists asking how I could have ever decided to join the Liberal Democrats. So I will try to answer a few questions! First let me say what it was not: The Political Compass is a very interesting website which allows you to complete a questionaire and plot yourself on a political spectrum which takes into account left/right and libertarian/authoritarian scales. However, I did not choose my party on the basis of it’s results! If you are going to give serious support to any political party, you should study it’s policy documents as well as it’s history and track record. That is what I did.

Now as far as the Blair administration is concerned, there are several things that I am disappointed or disatisfied with. But they all pale into insignificance compared to one issue which means that I could never, ever support a Labour Party with Blair at the helm. Ever.

The end of the Bill Clinton era and the subsequent election(!) or George “Dubya” Bush promised to be and has proved to be a disaster for world peace and security. The Bush administration has been characterised by inflammatory rhetoric (remember the “Axis of Evil” speech?) and the evangelical belief the the US is somehow the world’s policemen and guardian of the world. That Bush thinks that the world will remember him as a hero because he “rights wrongs” around the world at the point of his very large gun is beyond doubt. But never, ever did I think that a British Labour Prime Minister would get into bed with him.

I wanted Blair to stand up to him – to tell him, as the French and the Germans did, that we have a duty to international law and to peace. But no, instead when Bush said “jump” Blair’s only question was “how high”.

Above all else, Blair has tainted my country by association with Bush’s dirty war. Subsequent inquiries have revealed that there was nowhere near the intelligence necessary to justify invading when we did. And yet he remains, defiant and arrogant.

A polician, government of party must remember that ordinary people put them where they are. You can only disregard public opinion for so long – after which the public will put you back in your place. Isn’t that just what happened to the Tory’s – and they are still paying the price.

Democracy and Debate

My thanks are due to Ben, Simon and Gareth for their
comments (even the ones i disagree with)! But there’s
the thing – a lot of my Labour friends challenge my
support for Liberal Democracy, and they are entitled to
do that. But I do strongly recommend The Political
Compass website (links:right) to all of you. Everyone’s
political beliefs fall on two scales – left and right
are concepts that we all understand. But the
Libertarian/Authoritarian scale is equally important
(at least to a Liberal!) in determining which party
most closely reflects what you believe in. I am most
definitely a little to the left of centre, but I am
certainly “Liberal” too. But above and before
everything else, I am a democrat. I believe in debate,
and I believe in the right to discuss your views openly
and I believe in moving democracy as close to the
people as you can. One of my biggest beefs with Blair
is his autocratic style of leadership and his
unwillingness to listen to his party or his country.
His latest cabinet reshuffle is, I think, a further
example of his determination to surround himself with
people he can control.