Latest from the Countryside
Yesterday's statement by junior DEFRA Minister Alun Michael revealed the true depths to which the Government has stooped in its treatment of our community. We all know that the Government's decision to move against us has nothing to do with hunting or animal welfare, but is just a chaotic and underhand attempt to manage its backbenchers. It is corrupt.
What is more Alun Michael has succeeded in losing control of the Government's policy on hunting, delivering it meekly into the hands of Tony Banks.
No one can be surprised either that his comments ignore all the evidence and principle upon which the Government claimed it would resolve the issue. It flatly contradicts the definitive inquiry into hunting with dogs which Lord Burns delivered to the Government just four years ago. The Minister knows that it is nothing but a corrupt attempt to justify Government-sanctioned discrimination.
The Government's position is now clear. The Hunting Bill will now be re-introduced to Parliament next week in the same form as it was previously presented. It will be rushed through the Commons next week in a single day using emergency procedures and go straight to the Lords. If the Lords reject or amend the bill the Parliament Act 1949 will probably be used by the Speaker to drive the Bill through in the form it left the Commons. The Act will then receive Royal Assent and become effective law three months later - hunting could be banned by early 2005. But please read on.
In a complex development, a second, 'amending motion' will also travel the Parliamentary route amending the three months commencement period in the Bill (for hunting but not coursing) to two years. To be law, this would have to pass all hurdles in both houses. Either way the legal position remains that the validity of the Parliament Act 1949 will be challenged, as can any infringement of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Whatever happens politically or legally it remains vital that we continue to behave in a manner that retains the respect for our cause for which we have worked so hard. I completely understand that many of you, like me, feel a burning sense of frustration and anger.
But if Harold Wilson was right and 'a week is a long time in politics', then three months is a lifetime, (and two years an age).
Despite the stark analysis that I have outlined above there is much to play for, and the reaction of members and supporters in the last 24 hours - especially those who listened to Alun Michael on the 'Today' programme - confirms widespread resilience and determination.
We have much to do, legally and within Westminster and the media. If you have not seen it, today's Times leader sums up the position pretty well. Please see it on our website and pass it to your friends.
Please keep in touch, watch the website, and await developments. Our battle is now not just about hunting it is about prejudice and discrimination, which is why increasing numbers of people - many from non hunting or rural positions - are getting angry about the manner in which the Government is behaving.
Our job is to stop this, and I remain wholly confident that together we can.
2. Second Reading Demonstration - be in Westminster next Wednesday
The phoney war may now be over but the real battle is only just beginning. Our plans are now clicking into place and we need you, your family and friends to come to Parliament Square on Wednesday 15th September to launch the next phase of our campaign. We will:
Show that the Government has given in to prejudice
Show that the Government is persecuting a law abiding minority in a vindictive manner
Show that the Government cannot be trusted to honour its commitments
Show the value of our cause and our intention to fight
Show our resolve, determination, anger and spirit
Show that the Government's priorities are not those of ordinary people
Show the nation that a ban is not inevitable, is not needed, and will be fought at every point
Our demonstration will be large, forceful and lawful.
Please make your way to Parliament Square by 12 noon. The main demonstration will end with a suitable 'finale' at 5.30pm which is when the vote on the Second Reading of the Hunting Bill will take place. Further stages will take place after that so do feel free to stay.
3. What you can do today
Make sure you and your friends come to the weekend campaign meetings - click here http://www.countryside-alliance.com/content/view/430/ for details.
Get ready for your 'No Ban' bonfires
Download your new campaign poster and a special Westminster poster to hand out locally advertising next Wednesday's demonstration - click here http://www.countryside-alliance.com/content/blogsection/1/127/
Write to your local press
Forward this email to your friends, family and colleagues and encourage them to get involved.