Politicians prepare for hunting battle

12 July 1999

Politicians prepare for hunting battle

POLITICIANS are moving to secure the best position on fox hunting following Tony Blairs declaration that hunting will be banned before the next general election.

Conservative opposition to a ban has been compromised, however, by Anne Widdecombe, the shadow home secretary, who has long opposed hunting.

Ms Widdecombe will not now speak for the Tories on fox-hunting after attacking its supporters as “morally indefensible”, according to The Guardian.

It is believed William Hague, the conservative leader, sees opposition to a ban on fox-hunting as a means of rallying rural support against the government.

David Liddington, her deputy, is to take her place on the issue, says the paper.

Labour, meanwhile, will put the anti-hunting issue at the heart of its campaign in the Eddisbury by-election on 25 July.

The party believes there is strong opposition to the sport in the Cheshire constituency, which is the home of the Cheshire hunt.

The Daily Telegraph gives front page prominence to the story that Mr Blair decided to proceed with a hunting ban after coming under pressure from an animal welfare organisation whose sister organisation gave the Labour Party £1m.

The story is based on memos between government ministers.

It details how the International Fund for Animal Welfare threatened to switch to opposing the government if the Labour Party did not observe its manifesto commitment to abolish hunting.

The letters column of the same newspaper teems with letters against the ban on hunting.

The letters column of The Independent has fewer letters offering support for the governments proposed ban.

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