An organisation which wants to see fox hunting made legal again is gearing up to support Conservative Party candidates in our area standing in May’s General Election. Vote-OK was set up following the 2004 Hunting Act which made hunting with hounds illegal. Its aim has been to try and secure a sufficient majority of MPs at Westminster so that a free vote could be won on the repeal of the act.
In 2010 the Conservative Party pledged to allow this to happen but was unable to do so as part of the Coalition as they could not count on the support of their LibDem partners. Last week, David Cameron repeated his aim to have a free vote in the House if the Conservatives won an outright majority.
Vote-OK claims to have identified candidates who “understand rural issues to support in a number of marginal constituencies.” Among these are Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore, Filton & Bradley Stoke’s Jack Lopresti and Jacob Rees-Mogg in North East Somerset. It supports Tory candidates through feet on the ground – providing volunteers to for leafleting neighbourhoods, stuffing envelopes, putting up posters and carrying out telephone canvassing. Usually working through local hunts, Vote-OK has political coordinators in all of the constituencies of the MPs above as well as Thornbury & Yate (which includes Wick and Pucklechurch) where Luke Hall is standing for the Conservatives against LibDem Minister Steve Webb.
It’s not the first time Vote-OK has been active in the area. Members of the Beaufort Hunt were out on the streets in both the 2005 and 2010 elections in Kingswood while Jacob Rees-Mogg has long standing links to the Mendip Hunt which hunts over his family’s land.
In 2010, when we asked Mr Rees-Mogg and Mr Skidmore about the Hunting Act, both expressed the view that it had been badly drafted and was a waste of resources but neither would be drawn on how they would vote if given the chance.
We have asked all the Conservative candidates once again how they would vote if given the chance to repeal the Hunting Act. None has so far responded.