Labour’s wildlife culls

With one week to go till the election and the two main parties neck and neck, the mood on social media is starting to become frenzied and more and more people are saying we have to vote Labour to save wildlife.

The reasons given are twofold. Firstly to protect foxes because the so-called hunting ban may be repealed if the Tories get in. Second, to save badgers from a further cull. The myth that the 2005 Hunting Act works has already been comprehensively demolished in a number of posts here.

As for badgers, it’s true that Labour says it will end the cull. But can it be trusted? It’s always more revealing to look at what parties do in government, rather than in opposition when they’ll say anything to get your vote.

So what was the record of the Labour government when in office from 1997-2010 as regards wildlife? In a word terrible! There were numerous attempts to wipe out a wide range of species – some successful, some not. This included ducks, geese, deer, cormorants, seals, hedgehogs, pigeons, rats and of course badgers too. All these attempts were either directly carried out or supported by Labour.

Most famous of these was the badger cull of 1998-2005, which in true New Labour style was spun into a “field trial” to endow it with a spurious scientific justification. In fact over 10,000 badgers had already been killed to control bovine tb since the seventies and the facts were well known. The disease isn’t caused by badgers but by the appalling abuse suffered by cows in the dairy industry. Nevertheless another 11,000 died on Labour’s watch before a consensus was reached that it did nothing to control tb in cattle and could even make the situation worse.

Perhaps the next famous cull was that of the ruddy duck. In May 2003 the government announced it would destroy the entire UK population of ruddy ducks. Their crime was flying to Spain to mate with endangered white headed ducks, who were themselves almost hunted to extinction.

The decision came after a “trial cull” had run from 1999-2002 – a ruthless exercise which led to the slaughter of 2,651 ruddys. A further 6,000 were earmarked for destruction which continued until the end of Labour’s term of office and carried on under the Tories until the last survivors were shot in 2014.

In 2002 Labour gave the go-ahead to a cull of ship rats who lived on the island of Lundy off the Devon coast. This was backed by English Nature and the National Trust, which owned the island, to counter a threat to puffin and manx shearwater populations, as rats were blamed for taking the birds’ eggs. 40,000 were wiped out. The native birds did increase but the rats had kept the rabbit population down. After the cull this grew from a few hundred to tens of thousands and in turn the rabbits were killed as well.

From 2003 over 600 hedgehogs on the Scottish island of Uist in the Outer Hebrides were given lethal injections because they were said to pose a threat to the eggs of rare wading birds. A coalition of local animal rights groups opposed the cull and Scottish Natural Heritage eventually backed down ion 2007. The rest of the hedgehogs were relocated.

Pigeons are unfairly regarded as pests and killed throughout the country. When Labour’s Ken Livingstone ran for mayor in 2000 he said he planned to declare London “a cruelty-free zone”. That didn’t include Trafalgar Square, however, and his attempt to get rid of the Trafalgar Square pigeons became a national news story.

Livingstone, who once claimed to believe in animal rights, wanted to remove all the pigeon’s food in one go. This would have resulted in slow, lingering deaths for the birds. A group called Save the Trafalgar Square Pigeons proposed reducing the food gradually. Members of STTSP took to feeding the birds but they were subject to harassment from wardens and a harriers hawk was introduced to kill and frighten away the pigeons.

Eventually STTSP reached an agreement with the Greater London Authority in which feeding was allowed every day at 7.30am. The number of pigeons did decline dramatically but in 2007 the mayor and GLA banned their feeding.

There are herds of wild goats in Wales, Scotland and the West Country. In 2006 A cull of some of the wild goats in Snowdonia was carried out with up to 40 animals shot. Their crime was damaging saplings in protected woodland and residents’ gardens. Gwynedd council said the goats were not a “pure breed”.

As well as badgers, ruddy ducks, rats, hedgehogs, pigeons and goats, a plethora of other species were indiscriminately killed, such as deer, geese, gulls, raptors, cormorants, corvids, stoats and weasels.

So that’s Labour’s record on wildlife protection while it was in office and it is a pretty miserable one. In 2007 Animal Aid published a booklet called With extreme prejudice: the culling of British wildlife. This was 10 years into Labour’s term of office and was a reaction to the alarming rise in the number of animal populations deemed a nuisance or danger and hence wothy of destruction.

Its judgement was damning:

Intolerance of other species is now so great that mass killings are rarely even commented on. Animals and birds are persecuted for daring to feed themselves and rear offspring; or for being introduced to, or abandoned in, an area where they naturally would not live.

They are shot, poisoned, trapped and snared for living in what is left of their fast-dwindling habitat or for adapting to a landscape that – thanks to human intervention – is changing rapidly. They are killed because they are considered noisy, messy or unsightly.

But most of all, they are persecuted because they pose a financial threat to industries and ‘sports’, many of which have as their primary objective the killing of other animals or birds. These are the shooting, sea fishing, angling and farming industries.

Labour was the driving force behind the extermination of a myriad of species who were viewed as inferior. At the same time the party was doing all it could to support and appease the shooting, fishing, angling and farming lobbies who love killing wild animals when they come into conflict with their profits and pastimes.

In short,  Labour in government was a party of mass animal destruction or to use that more anodyne term, culling. Just because it says it’s now on the side of wildlife , it should not trusted.

Anima Aid’s report is here: http://www.animalaid.org.uk/images/pdf/booklets/Extremeprejudice.pdf

Which side are they on?

Shami Chakrabarti is known to most people as the director of Liberty, the civil rights organization. She has never stood as an MP but imagine the public uproar were she to announce she was a UKIP candidate at the forthcoming election.

Something very similar in principle that occurred last year, however, registered zero on the shock scale. Not a single voice of discontent was heard when Michelle Thew – pictured here – was chosen as the Labour candidate for the seat of Bexhill and Battle.

It’s a safe Tory seat and she is unlikely to win it but when I discovered she was a Labour candidate I was astonished. For many years she has been chief executive of the British Union Against Vivisection (BUAV) which campaigns for an end to animal experiments.

Why on earth would anyone who has fought for laboratory animals and animal rights want to represent a party that stands for exactly the opposite? That’s where the comparison with Chakrabarti is valid. In fact it’s worse because at least UKIP makes some pretense of believing in human freedom, whereas for Labour the idea that animals have rights doesn’t even exist.

A few weeks ago the party made some pledges on animal welfare including ending the badger cull, retaining the Hunting Act and banning wild animals in circuses but mention of vivisection was conspicuous by its absence.

A lengthy examination of Labour’s record on animal issues will have to wait for another blog post but for now all I will say is its record is appalling. Before the 1997 election all sorts of promises were made to reduce and eventually end vivisection, especially alcohol, weapons and tobacco testing, but none were kept. Instead the number of animals used increased by about one million during the 13 years the party was in government.

It went even further in propping up the infamous Huntingdon Life Sciences laboratory and criminalising those who campaigned against vivisection. Draconian laws were introduced which made minor public order offences and even civil torts punishable by up to five years imprisonment if they harmed a contract between a laboratory and its customers or suppliers. Conspiracy to blackmail was also used to punish activists with very long sentences.

The Labour government in effect declared war on anti-vivisectionists and here is the boss of one of the largest and oldest organizations that’s meant to stand up for laboratory animals joining its side.

In one respect this leaves me incredulous but in another it makes perfect sense. When I highlighted the story on Facebook, someone commented that it came as no surprise and it wouldn’t have been a shock even if Thew had gone over to Cancer Research UK or the British Heart Foundation.

That just about sums up the cynicism of grassroots activists towards big national societies. And let’s face it, the BUAV does have a track record here. Way back in the eighties it cozied up to Labour and got badly let down when the party supported the 1986 Animal Scientific Procedures Act – the Vivisectors Charter.

Most campaigners I know see the likes of the BUAV as bureaucratic and out of touch, trying vainly to influence politicians and capitalists instead of using their resources to fight vivisection in more direct and effective ways.

While it may come as little surprise to find out the boss of the BUAV has joined Labour, what about a hunt saboteur and vegan? Chris Williamson, the MP for Derby North is both, I am told. I looked at his website and he mentions neither but does say he is a trustee and former chair of the League Against Cruel Sports and believes in “animal welfare”. The hunt sab and vegan claim was mentioned on Facebook after I posted a piece about the ineffectiveness of the Hunting Act.

Whether Williamson is vegan is in doubt then but Labour already has Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East since 2005 and a vegan You may ask how anyone who espouses veganism and animal rights can represent a party which in government would do all it can to support animal farming? The answer is although McCarthy is a dietary vegan, she doesn’t believe in animal rights at all. At last year’s Bristol Vegfest she said she approved of some animal experiments.

When asking how individuals who claim to care about animal suffering want to get elected on the platform of a party which will do so much to further it, we shouldn’t forget the capacity of people to delude themselves. Perhaps the likes of Thew and others really think they can make a difference? Their retort might be, well better I’m there able to do something and can speak out for defenceless animals rather than somebody who doesn’t care at all.

But in reality they will chewed up and spat out by the system and made to conform. In return they will have a lavish income – even a backbench MP’s salary is nearly £70,000 per year – and the potential for even more if they become a minister or junior minister.

Like Joan Ruddock of CND who became an MP in the eighties when Labour’s policy was unilateral nuclear disarmament but was a minister when that policy was abolished and during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, they will have to renounce their principles and be no more than a career politician whose job it is to maintain a system which mercilessly exploits animals and humans and is destroying the planet.

Where has the Hunting Act gone?

Two weeks to go till the election and a sort of collective insanity seems to be gripping certain sections of social media. There’s a big argument on Facebook between animal rights people who support Labour and those who’ll be voting for the Green Party.

When I published the article on the Green Party and Barry Horne recently, a lot of the Labour folk thought I was on their side. I had to remind them this is an anarchist blog and I’m nothing of the sort. I deeply detest Labour and its double-crossing of the animal rights movement and the animals themselves.

In the run-up to the election I’ll be writing two pieces on Labour. One will look at its betrayal of the working class – the very people it was set up to represent – while the other will examine how Labour has promised so much for animals yet delivered so little.

To return to Facebook, many of those backing Labour have got involved over the badger cull and have little knowledge of the party’s treachery in the past. Their naivety is therefore to some extent excusable.

But there are others who should know better. One of them is Luke Steele who used to be an anti-vivisectionist and fancied himself as the leader of the radical wing of the movement following the decline of SHAC. Until, that is, he fell fowl of draconian laws introduced by the last Labour government.

First he was sent to prison for the heinous crime of trespassing on private land belonging to a breeder of laboratory animals. Then a few years later he was gaoled for standing outside another breeder holding a placard and speaking on a megaphone. One might think that after that he’d be through with Labour but, no, he’s going around towns in northern England asking people to vote for them.

The expression turkeys voting for Christmas springs to mind. One of the reasons he wants us to put Miliband in No.10 is the Tories’ commitment to a free vote on the Hunting Act. I have news for you, Luke, the Act has already gone in some parts of the country. Or to be more exact it was never there in the first place.

According to a BBC investigation there has never been a single prosecution under the Act in the counties of Cornwall and Devon over the last ten years. It’s like a piece of hugely controversial legislation that took up 700 hours of parliamentary time, caused riots outside Parliament and even a hunt scum invasion of the House of Commons had never even existed.

The police claim they would “always consider any evidence”, yet although two arrests have been made for illegal hunting, that’s as far as it’s gone. The only prosecutions brought have been by the League Against Cruel Sports. 

Cornwall and Devon are two of the largest and most heavily hunted counties in England so perhaps the reason for the lack of police interest is that the hunts are operating within the law? However, the people on the ground – the monitors and saboteurs – say most hunts are just carrying on as before. They are acting with impunity because they know the police aren’t interested in stopping them.

This is precisely how it was always meant to be. The Act was poorly drafted, full of loopholes and not designed to protect wild animals properly – it permits the shooting of foxes, for example. Add to that the lack of enforcement and we have a piece of legislation that is next to useless.

Unfortunately most of the population thinks hunting with hounds is now a thing of the past. The likes of Luke Steele do not help matters when they go around saying we should vote Labour to keep the “ban”. This amounts to colluding in a massive confidence trick. Far better to expose the lies and mendacity of politicians who protect the rich and powerful’s country pursuits. There really is one law for them and another for us.

Hunt sabs acquitted after earning praise from judge

It’s uncommon for hunt saboteurs to receive justice in a court of law. They often find themselves in the dock on trumped up charges, with police and hunt witnesses prepared to lie to get convictions. And they seldom get an impartial hearing from the magistrate or judge who belongs to the same social class as the hunt.

Nice then to see four sabs found not-guilty of committing aggravated trespass after a two day trial at Redhill magistrates court earlier this week. A deer was chased and injured by the Surrey Union Hunt in October 2014 and instead of allowing the sabs – who had years of animal sanctuary experience – to help the animal, Surrey Police arrested them for failing to leave private land. They then left the deer with the hunt terrier men who shot it.

A leading vet who testified for the defence criticised the way terrier men dragged the poor animal around by a broken leg and said its injuries had been caused by a pack of hounds. From video footage the police clearly lied about what happened and in his summing up the district judge said the hunt and police had caused unnecessary suffering to the deer and if the sabs had been allowed to help, they would have reduced its suffering. He also praised the saboteurs saying: 

“All of you contribute immensely to society not only in your working lives but in your free time. [on the day] You deserve high praise for managing yourselves and your behaviour.

Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated:

“Surrey police have a history of acting as private security for the Surrey Union Hunt…their bias led to the unnecessary suffering of an animal. Despite saboteurs informing the police that a crime had occurred, they allowed the hunt to take the deer’s body and dispose of it and arrested the saboteurs who were trying to minimise the animals suffering. We hope that the Surrey Union hunt will now be investigated for illegal hunting and that there will be an independent investigation into the actions of Surrey Police. Whilst we are pleased at the not-guilty verdict it is disgusting that this case ever came to trial.”

Disgusting but not surprising as the police invariably take the side of the hunt. In this case their lies were exposed and with the help of a good expert witness and an even-handed judge, the sabs won. But it’s a pyrrhic victory because a deer went through a great deal of suffering and possibly died unnecessarily at the hands of sadists who love tormenting and killing wild animals.

Neither the Surrey Union or Surrey Police will be investigated. The best that can be hoped for is the sabs take legal action but even that is unlikely given the difficulty of accessing legal aid following Tory cuts. Even with the so-called “ban on hunting” crimes like this are being committed against wildlife, and the brave people who try to stop them find themselves persecuted by those ruling class lackeys, the police. At least this time, though, the hunt scum and the filth lost!

A more detailed examination of the case:  http://morethanjustbadgers.net/2015/03/26/justice-is-done/

Hunters still getting away with murder!

Last August and early into the new fox hunting season, a sab was ridden down and seriously injured by Mark Doggrell of the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt in Dorset. The attack happened during an evening cubbing and pony club meet, where children aged from 7 to 14 were present. The woman spent two weeks in hospital for injuries including seven broken ribs, a collapsed lung and trauma to her shoulder. 

Doggrell was arrested and investigated for causing grevious bodily harm but last week the CPS decided not to bring any charges, citing insufficient evidence. Whilst on bail for this attack he was also charged with assault for breaking a fellow hunter’s nose at their hunt ball.

Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt saboteurs Association, stated: “We are disappointed, but not surprised, that no charges have been brought against Mark Doggrell. Historically the police and criminal justice system have allowed acts of violence on hunt saboteurs to go unpunished whilst the saboteurs themselves are prosecuted seemingly at the whim of the hunts.

The announcement coincided with the anniversary of the death of Mike Hill (pictured). He was killed whilst sabbing the Cheshire beagles on 9 February 1991, aged just 18, crushed between a truck and trailer driven by Alan Summersgill. Afterwards an angry group attacked Summersgill’s house and some people were gaoled but he was never charged with any offence, even driving without due care or attention.

Two years later another young man named Tom Worby died on his first sab, crushed under the wheels of a van belonging to the Cambridgeshire Fox Hunt. The driver was huntsman Alan Ball but he too faced no charges. Since then many sabs have been seriously injured, including one named Steve Christmas who nearly died in 2000.

These attacks receive scant coverage, unlike that afforded to the rare instances of saboteurs fighting back. Two weeks ago the joint master of the Tedworth Hunt in Wiltshire was beaten to the ground and required hospital treatment. His injuries weren’t serious – a few broken teeth – but according to the Daily Mail police said they were treating it as a serious incident of ABH and potential public disorder and described it as “a totally unacceptable assault involving a group of men and women wearing balaclavas.”
Some of you reading this might find it hard to believe that saboteurs are still being attacked and hunters getting away with it when hunting with dogs is supposed to have been banned since 2005. In fact it’s the 10th anniversary of the Hunting Act on 18 February. Shouldn’t it be hunt scum themselves who are facing the full force of the law?!
Yesterday the BBC website published an article called Did hunting disappear?  in which Hunt Saboteurs Association is quoted as saying: “Most hunts are carrying on as they did before. The police have never known much about hunting other than how to try to protect it, so we never had much faith in them changing sides”
The problem is the police don’t want to enforce the law and neither do the CPS. It’s left to hunt monitors to follow hunts and try to record their wrongdoing but they too can get attacked. Due to judicial inaction, the RSPCA have spent millions prosecuting hunts themselves. But even on the rare occasions when they are successful, those guilty are let off with a slap to the wrist. In 2013 Nicholas Bycroft of the Crawley & Horsham Hunt admitted illegally hunting a fox and received a 12 month conditional discharge, £150 costs and £15 victim surcharge.
There’s never been a better example of how class loyalty trumps the so-called rule of law than the Hunting Act. The hunts, the police, the judges and the politicians really are all in it together. While the public remain opposed to hunting with hounds, few realise how toothless the law has become. Labour Party supporters the League Against Cruel Sports continue to peddle the myth that it’s a “very successful and popular piece of legislation” despite having to admit “there are plenty of ways in which the pro-hunt groups… (are) contradicting the spirit and intent of the law.”
As usual it will be left to hunt sabs to go out into the field to confront the vicious and violent hunting fraternity. Just days after Doggrell was let off, his hunt was at it again, using quad bikes to block in a sab landrover before smashing the windows, throttling the driver and damaging equipment in the vehicle. They even placed a home made ‘stinger’ type device under the vehicles tyres in order to puncture them.
Some of you may recall that back in the eighties Class War used to publish a photo of an “Hospitalised copper of the month” in the pages of its newspaper, much to the annoyance of those who accused it of pandering to hooliganism. The group pointed out this was a response to the left’s usual portrayal of itself as a victim of oppression and injustice.
Perhaps its time we saw a similar mentality amongst the anti-bloodsports movement but that is highly unlikely. People who go out to stop animals being torn to pieces are compassionate and caring individuals who usually baulk at the prospect of violence. Unlike those they are up against.

Hunting Act: 10 years old on 18th November and nobody noticed

Did you know the Hunting Act was 10 years old on Tuesday? I’m usually good with dates but it passed me by completely until I read the article below. The Act actually became law in February 2005 – and eight out of 10 people want it to continue – but it’s full of loopholes and crucially the police and CPS are reluctant to enforce it. Moreover when a prosecution is successful the penalty is so lenient as to be ridiculous. The fact no-one is talking about the anniversary shows how toothless it is and how for most hunts it’s just business as usual.

The article “A decade on from the ban, fox hunting is still thriving” appears on the website Left Foot Forward, which supports the Labour Party. As such it takes a liberal view of the rule of law and says: “If we send the message that police and politicians can turn a blind eye to illegal behaviour simply because they don’t like the law, the entire justice system is undermined.”

What anarchists believe is it shows is that the “justice system ” is really an “injustice system” and there is one law for the rich and powerful and another for the rest of us. From an animal liberation perspective it also proves how the attempt to legislate for animal welfare is doomed in a speciesist society.

So on two counts the Hunting Act was deeply flawed and bound to fail, despite being trumpeted as a great breakthrough for wild animals by reformist organizations like the League Against Cruel Sports and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The reality is the people saving foxes are the brave activists who go out sabbing and monitoring the hunts – using direct action – not mealy mouthed politicians or their cronies.

http://leftfootforward.org/2014/11/a-decade-on-from-the-ban-fox-hunting-is-still-thriving/

Is hunting the solution to London’s toff problem?

A theme I’ve touched on before is the ruling class’ belief in their destiny to lord it over us, including the right to kill whatever moves on this earth. Whether it’s fox hunting, grouse shooting or the badger cull, they love nothing more than slaughtering wild animals, preferably if there’s some sort of chase involved first and they can dress up in ridiculous costumes, ride on horseback, blow horns and do other stupid stuff like that.

It used to be the case they could get away with doing it whenever they pleased. Vast swathes of land owned by the monarch or aristocracy were their hunting grounds and beware commoners who intruded there. Nowadays the “born to rule” excuse is not one the elite can openly use (that’s not to say they don’t still believe it of course as proven by their unguarded comments). Instead they try to ascribe a dubious necessity to their blood lust. Killing animals is required in order to control their numbers, or stop them being a pest.

In the past few years urban foxes have been sensationalised and demonized in the tabloids as presenting a danger to humans. In one story last year a sleeping baby was supposed to have had his finger nearly bitten off by a fox which entered through the back door of a house in Bromley, south east London. This attack was during February and the door was open due to the council not having repaired it.

A similar incident occurred in 2010 when twin baby girls were bitten by a fox in Hackney. Again the back door was left open. Thankfully such attacks are extremely rare despite the increase in the numbers of urban foxes due to people not disposing of food waste properly. In fact you’re far more likely to be bitten by a dog than a fox, with the number of victims estimated at 200,000 per year, yet you never hear politicians calling for a canine cull.

No, they know that would be electoral suicide. However Tory twats like Boris Johnson are only to happy to advocate fox hunting because its a bloodsport they love. Earlier this year the brainless mayor said he’s been tempted to use an air rifle to shoot the animals and event went as far as saying: “I’m pro-liberty and individual freedom. If people want to get together to form the fox hounds of Islington I’m all for it.”

This says it all. Parts of London are turning into a playground for the rich with working class people being forced out of boroughs like Islington due to high rents, lack of social housing and the bedroom tax. Such is the arrogance of the ruling class it’s fantasizing about imposing its favourite countryside pursuits onto the urban landscape.

Some will say this was just an off the cuff remark made by an upper class buffoon during a twitter Q&A, yet it shows clearly how the minds of these people work: a pack of foxhounds chasing a fox across Finsbury Park bayed on by mounted redcoats – it’s a Tory wet dream!

The biggest problem in London by far isn’t foxes or any other legged animal, it’s the two legged kind who think they have a right to rule over the rest of us. I’d like to reiterate my support for toff hunting as a solution for London’s growing problems caused by Tory vermin like Johnson and the rest of his pals. Leave the foxes alone!

 

 

Cull Tories, not badgers

The second badger cull is now 14 days old. Not content with the fiasco that occurred in Somerset and Gloucestershire last year and the widespread opposition to it, the government initiated round two on 8 September and wants to continue each year until 2016!

The Independent Expert Panel which reported on last year’s cull and was highly critical of it has been cast aside, thus removing any pretence that this barbaric practice will carried out on a scientific basis. This year there will be no attempt to count badgers in the cull areas – either before or after they are killed – and the time badgers take to die will not be recorded either. There will be no oversight by independent scientists.

Instead key data is being collected by the shooters themselves: people with a vested interest in the cull being designated “effective” and “humane” and whose data was so unreliable last year that it was considered worthless by the panel. Thus any future claim that the 2014 culls have reduced badger numbers to control bovine TB will be completely baseless.

What this proves beyond doubt is the cull is not about reducing TB – which is happening anyway in Wales where badgers are being vaccinated, not shot – but about the Tories and their friends appeasing countryside interests. The ruling class in the shires consists of large landowners, farmers and the shooting/hunting industries and the interests of all three converge on this issue.

Quite simply the Tories can’t back down, despite the escalating cost of the cull and the lack of results, because to do so would be to give in to the “great unwashed” and the “green blob” (as Owen Patterson referred to groups like Friends of the Earth after he was sacked) and would send a message to their natural supporters that they should defect to UKIP.

So the poor badgers are just a political scapegoat. More than that though it is just another excuse for the ruling class to do what it loves best – killing wild animals. As well as foxes, pheasants, grouse, etc, it now has license to shoot even more defenceless creatures because badgers take the blame for causing TB in cows.

The dairy cow leads a short, miserable and squalid life in order to provide us with a daily pinta. Forced to endure continual pregnancy and lactation – her calf removed when only days or hours old and then either sent to a dairy herd itself or shot in its head – inevitably she is prone to conditions such as mastitis and TB

But try telling that to the farmers and landowners who see animals as either commodities for profit or pests who threaten their livelihoods. One species of wild animal has to be massacred in order to preserve the enslavement and oppression of another. The madness of capitalism and animal exploitation.

But this isn’t just an animal rights issue; it’s also about class and power. As Daniel Dawson writes in his perceptive article on the Freedom website:

“This is taking back land from the hands of those who remind us that it is private property. This is reminding the government that the shock therapy that they have implemented over the last few years is unacceptable, and that every small battle counts. Remember now that on all fronts this government has attacked us, debilitated us and pacified us through desperate work conditions, privatisation and cuts to much needed public services. Every small revolt that frightens gunmen, angers huntsmen, and directly halts undemocratically funded initiatives implemented solely for the appeasement of the rich, is a revolutionary act that normalises dissent.”

Last year the culls were rendered ineffective due to disruption and sabbing from opponents – proof that direct action can work. These tactics are being honed and this year they can be even more effective but they need more bodies in the area. People can only do without so much sleep. If you can get involved for a few days or even hours contact the Gloucestershire Badger Office on 07582607913. You can also donate much needed funds for fuel and equipment to hunt sab groups in the area.

Stop the cull campaign http://badger-killers.co.uk/

Gloucestershire Badger Office https://www.facebook.com/Glosbadgeroffice

Hunt saboteurs Association http://www.huntsabs.org.uk/

Freedom article: http://freedomnews.org.uk/the-badger-cull-not-just-about-badgers/

Hunt saboteur seriously injured in Somerset

The hunting season is only a few days old and already a hunt saboteur is in hospital with serious injuries. On 28 August, 2014  the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale hunt was out cubbing, the ‘sport’ of sending a pack of hounds into a wood whilst riders and supporters surround it and prevent any fox from escaping.  The purpose of cubbing is to weed out young and inexperienced hounds who won’t kill and are therefore useless to the hunt and are destroyed.

Whilst Dorset Hunt Sabs were on a public road documenting the hunt’s unlawful activities, an angered rider rode his horse at speed into a hunt saboteur – throwing her up in the air and trampling over her with his horse – before riding off laughing.

An ambulance was called immediately but was prevented from reaching the scene by hunt vehicles deliberately blocking the road. Eventually the victim was taken to hospital with several broken ribs,a collapsed lung and a back injury. Naturally the hunt callously carried on with their barbaric pastime before returning to the kennels for a BBQ. Fortunately the sab is currently in recovery at Yeovil Hospital.

Two days later a man attended a local police station where he was arrested for GBH. He was interviewed and released on police bail. The joint master expressed his “deep regret” for any “accident or incident that happens to anyone who is hurt” but those words will be taken with a pinch of salt by hunt saboteurs up and down the country who regularly face intimidation and violence from the hunting fraternity.

Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated: “The Blackmore and Sparkford Vale have a long history of violence towards hunt saboteurs but this is a particularly cowardly attack even by their standards. Cubbing is a vital time of the hunting season for the hunts as they are training young hounds to kill. Disruption by hunt saboteurs can affect their whole season which is why they often react with violence at this time of year.”

It remains to be seen whether the culprit will be charged but history proves that the police are notorious for failing to pursue justice against the thugs who enjoy killing animals on horseback and assaulting and killing those who try to stop them. In 1991 Mike Hill died while sabbing the Cheshire Beagles, due to falling under the wheels of a vehicle being driven dangerously by huntsman Alan Summersgill. The police referred to it as a “road traffic accident” and Summersgill was never charged.

Two years later 15 year old Tom Worby was killed while sabbing the Cambridgeshire Foxhounds when huntsman Anthony Ball drove into a group of sabs at high speed.  As sabs held Tom and screamed out for someone to call an ambulance, supporters of the hunt watched and laughed until Tom died in the arms of his girlfriend. Like Summersgill and the rider from the Blackmore Vale, Ball did not stop hunting after knocking Tom down. Nor was he ever charged.

What makes all this even more farcical is that cubbing is supposed to be illegal under the 2005 Hunting Act yet is still commonly practiced by most acts. So in the case of the Blackmore Vale, it is due to the police’s failure to enforce the law that a young woman was seriously injured.

This should come as no surprise, however. Ever since hunting with hounds was “banned” nine years ago, it has been regularly flouted by most hunts and the police have refused to do anything about it. Hunting is largely a ruling class pastime and they aren’t going to let anything as trivial as the law get in the way of their “sport”. Hunt members are on first name terms with senior police officers will know exactly who to talk to to make sure that charges are dropped or minimalized.

Just goes to show, doesn’t it, how useless political campaigning is. It really is one law for them – the rich and powerful – and another for us.

Further information on how to support the Hunt saboteurs or how to get involved in sabbing: http://www.huntsabs.org.uk/