I believe that anyone who abuses and maims children, the elderly, the infirm and animals deserve no sympathy from the public and the severest of punishments from the law.
That said, as the law stands and taking the controversial view that hunts uphold the law, I am in favour of the activity known as fox-hunting and hope it survives long into the future. Riding across country in pursuit of foxhounds gives work to a large number of people: hunt staff, of course, farriers, saddlery business, vets, feed merchants, even the local garage that services hunt vehicles.
It also gives horses an active life, allowing a second life to ex-racehorses, eventers and show horses. In an equestrian sense it is almost indispensable for the education of young horses and young riders. I understand the thrill and enjoyment of the chase, of riding across our green and pleasant land in the company of friends. But what I do not comprehend, what no pro-hunting enthusiast as ever been able to explain to me, is this pleasure only made complete by the killing of a sentient and beautiful animal who may never have harmed a lamb in its life?
We live in different times to when the landed gentry could do as they please, when they alone, as a section of society, employed thousands of people. The fox is not vermin. It does not live under the floorboards and spread to disease. And if the fox does get in the chicken shed that is nature and only proves that the fox is industrious in pursuit of life and man indolent.
When the hunting ban came into force I expected a sharp rise in the fox population, with starving foxes marauding our street knocking over wheelie bins and killing our domestic pets. But this has not happened.
This debate is not a battle of the social classes or do-gooders with no respect for tradition wanting to infect the brutish hunter with sentimentality. The world has changed, perhaps not for the better but it has changed. Even in the countryside the majority oppose the hunting and killing of foxes.
The anti-brigade, I admit, have the idea that the hunter is not an animal lover when the reverse is true. Misconceptions abound when views are polarised.
Protect this activity which will always be known as fox-hunting. Let it live on for a thousand years. For hunts to exist, the countryside must exist. But how can we construct a society free from violence and cruelty if we allow the persecution of a beautiful animal to continue, when the farmer and the landowner insist upon killing the fox for the sheer and utter pleasure of it?