As the Police Commissioner elections grow closer, interest still doesn’t seem to be exactly buzzing sadly. The Finchampstead hustings were well attended, but I’m still not anticipating a gloriously high turnout at the polling stations.
With that said, I was very interested to have my attention drawn by Damien Clarkson to this campaign site: No Cop Out For Wildlife. It’s a campaign website run by Lush (yes, the cosmetics company) and the Hunt Saboteurs Association, aimed at pressuring Police & Crime Commissioner candidates to deal with “wildlife crime”.
From what I can tell, this means fox hunting.
I know that for some people the Hunting Act 2004 isn’t an altogether popular piece of legislation, but I will always regard it as one of the last Labour government’s finest moves. Illegal hunting does still go on, however, and the Hunt Saboteurs Association and others do a great job of combating that.
So why am I bringing it up now? Well, for one think there are numerous (probably legal, potentially not) hunts which take place within the area covered by Thames Valley Police. So there’s a natural interest there.
But look for a moment at the Conservative candidate Cllr Anthony Stansfeld. I have previously criticised his lightness on policy, but one thing which has consistently appeared in his literature is this:
“[Cllr Stansfeld] said he would focus on reducing rural crime“
Rural crime. What is that, exactly? Apple scrumping? Tractor thefts? I’m being serious, it’s vague to the point of uselessness. But what it could mean, if you look at it in the light of everything I said above, it’s feasible that it could mean a fresh and reinvigorated focus on illegal fox hunts.
The Conservatives steadfastly opposed the ban, when it was going through the commons. David Cameron has specifically said he’d like the ban to be rescinded. But that’s not to say that all Tories agree with him, as an estimated 75% of British people want the ban to stay.
So what do you say then, Cllr Stansfeld? If elected Police & Crime Commissioner, will you translate your rural crime pledge into a concerted crackdown on illegal fox hunting?