The Fox Hunt: Class Warfare for the Modern Day?

Living in London I see foxes on virtually a daily basis. They are my favourite animal, so this post will be openly, blatantly and unashamedly bias, but I do not find my arguments unreasonable. There are many reasons to oppose foxhunting (thus supporting the continuation of its ban); it is cruel, unnecessary, arguably disturbing given that people actually enjoy brutally killing an animal that is outnumbered and condemned to death for existing, but often, the deeper, perhaps even more sinister issue raised when it comes to the ban on foxhunting – is it just another playing field for class warfare, something that is noticeably growing in today’s society.

“I am not suggesting that this idea is new. Admittedly I cannot remember what the political sphere looked like in 2004 (when the ban was introduced) and I certainly did not read the newspapers, but today thanks to my ever-brilliant dad, gained a new perspective myself on this “sport”. Digging around on the Guardian, I read this article. Within it, the author, Melissa Kite, argues the following:

Hunting is a niche sport in Britain. But I would argue that opposing hunting is an even more rarefied pursuit. That is because the hatred that consumes the antis has nothing to do with animal cruelty […] The reason the antis are so unhappy that we are still out there, revelling in the great outdoors, has less to do with the welfare of foxes than with the fact that they still have to look at “toffs” in red coats.”

This I completely disagree with. Speaking to my family, their support of the ban has little, if anything, to do with a sort of jealousy emerging from the (often true) stereotype of people who partake in foxhunts – often rich and shop in Waitrose in my experience – but rather it stems from their opposition to animal cruelty, and I speculate this is the same with much of our larger society.

That being said, ti is easy to see why people do think of hunting as a ‘class warfare issue’. Consider  cockfighting or dog fighting, these were outlawed years and years ago (both banned in 1835 respectively) . These sports were arguably working class sports banned by the landed gentry who worked in Parliament at the time. If you then reflect on the animals-dying related sports played by the upper classes, foxhunting and game-shooting, you can see how this issue could be spun as a form of class warfare: why should the rich get to continue to flout their wealth and power by partaking in sports similar to those outlawed against the poor?

Kite’s piece, for me, desceneds into something to not be taken seriously when she begins to use petty arguments and comparisons to support her point:

“Naturally, if you ask our predominantly urban population whether people should be allowed to pull foxes apart with dogs (and some anti-hunting polling has asked almost exactly that), most will say no. But ask what affects them most – the health service or the way foxes are controlled – and hunting will never come up.”

It is certainly unfair to postulate that the NHS and foxhunting are on anyway the same level, but just because one is more important to the general public than the other, does not mean the ban on foxhunting is less important (indeed, people are more offended by cruelty to animals than to humans). As I often do, I went on to read an equivalent article in the Daily Mail, which claimed that the 300 or so foxhunts that took place around the UK were attended by 250000 people. The article said how “young hunt supporters were out in force for traditional Boxing Day meets” and then proceeds to mention “two year old Ella” and “four year old Hattie” who were out showing their support for the hunt. To me, it seems interesting how toddlers can support something they know nothing about, when their parents are obviously just painting the hunt as a fun day out for them. To me this is just another example of indoctrination (if you pardon the perhaps unnecessary hyperbole). The article did however, surprise me in that its comment section was full of comments in support of the ban perhaps throwing the article itself into disrepute.

Nevertheless, this issue is stupidly controversial, irregardless of a class warfare. The arguments supporting the hunt are weak and to me, there is no reason that the ban should be repealed. When you learn about how the vast majority of power in the UK is held be a select few rich Etonians, it is not difficult to see how the establishment has been actively working to support their own lifestyles, irregardless of the general public’s will (80% in support of the ban) – both Nigel Farage and David Cameron are opposed to the ban.

I hope the ban continues to be in place, yet I am saddened that it is rarely enforced, especially in the countryside. Hopefully as today’s youth grow up and take the places of those in power, attitudes will slowly change – after all it is not necessarily the death of the foxes that most people oppose, rather that they are killed in the least humane way possible.