James Forsyth

How the Tories will repeal the hunting ban

How the Tories will repeal the hunting ban
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The Guardian has a story today about how field sports enthusiasts are donating heavily to Nick Herbert, the shadow DEFRA secretary. The paper links the donations to the fact that the Tories are committed to holding a vote on the repeal of the hunting ban.

As the Norwich North by-election showed, Labour will have a go at turning this into an election issue—hoping that it will aid their attempt to paint Cameron and Osborne as people most interested in looking after their wealthy friends. Norwich North suggests this attack won’t have that much cut through. But once elected, the politics of repealing the hunting act will be tricky. It would look a bit odd if the Tories were to immediately devote substantial parliamentary time to it given all the other problems the country is facing.

However, there is an idea doing the rounds in Conservative circles as to how the party could get around this problem. Rather than a bill devoted exclusively to repealing the hunting ban, there would be one that would  concentrate on a whole host of civil liberties issues including ID cards. Hunting would merely be a section of it, with a free vote on the issue. This way the party would avoid the appearance of spending a considerable amount of time on the relatively fringe issue of hunting and would get to frame repeal of the ban as a civil liberties issue.