Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

There would appear to be something not quite right in the world of hunting. OK, that’s pretty obvious as you have to be morally corrupt to even consider hunting as acceptable but here I’m talking about the major players in the make up of hunting organisations.

Lord Mancroft is the Chairman of the Masters of Foxhounds Association and the Council of Hunting Associations. He was until recently a board member of the so-called Countryside Alliance, having been a member at the CA’s creation in 1997 and deputy Chairman of the British Field Sports Society (forerunner of the CA) since 1992.  In his own words:

“I have been intimately involved in the political battle for hunting for more than 30 years”.

Obviously a charming chap.

The point of interest here is that he has been removed from the board of the CA and this news was released in a short article in the Nag & Mutt (Horse & Hound) last June. The term “removed” is an interesting one. Clearly his departure from the board wasn’t exactly amicable and there seems to be very little in terms of an explanation for his departure from the CA. The normally vocal CEO Dim Tim Bonner has been conspicuously quiet on the matter, making only a minimal statement on what they’re doing to increase the PR of hunting and who they currently have in place to do that, with Mancroft not even getting a mentioned.

Mancroft himself offers a bit more as to why he was booted out saying:

“I have been asking questions about the CA’s apparent unwillingness or failure to defend hunting politically or engage in any proactive PR”.

So I think it’s pretty clear that there’s been some in significant disagreements within the CA’s top brass and Mancroft, clearly not very happy about the current state of affairs had openly voiced his opinions which lead to the divorce. Obviously from my point of view this is all good stuff. You can’t beat a nice bit of in fighting among the ranks of your enemy and its certainly not the first time Bonner has come in for criticism, only now it seems that the criticism is coming from further up the food chain.

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Lord Mancroft

And that’s not all.

Below is a screen shot from the jobs section in H&H.

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These are some of the top jobs in hunting.

The Hunting Office is described as:

“The administrative hub for the Council of Hunting Associations.  The Hunting Office exists to help and advise Masters and its member Hunts.  It represents and supports packs of hounds from fourteen hunting associations in England, Scotland and Wales, providing advice on all matters regarding hunting activities, hunt management and hound health & welfare”.

In case you don’t know the MFHA is:

“The Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) is the Governing Body for registered packs of Foxhounds and represents 171 packs that hunt within the law in England and Wales and a further 8 in Scotland”.

The purpose of the AMHB is:

 “. . . to oversee the promotion and proper management of the Harrier and Beagle hunts”.

If all of these key personnel positions are vacant then it would seem that the vessel which oversees all things hunting could well be rudderless. There’s something distinctly whiffy going on in the halls of hunting and it doesn’t look good for them.

In the real world the compassionate side of the hunting argument have been hugely successful in utilising all the social media platforms available and getting the message out there. While sabs and monitors continue to upload damming videos and images of hunts breaking the law those involved in the criminality have been retreating further into their own fishbowl.

The successful prosecutions of the Thurlow & Fitzwilliam, the Meynell & South Staffs hunt awaiting trail, the conviction of the South Herefordshire hunt fox cub killers, the Kimblewick hunt staff awaiting trial, the Belvoir hunt paying out almost £50K in damages to LACS employees . . . all this is starting to add up and the powers that be in the hunting world are, to be quite frank, crapping themselves. Is it rats leaving a sinking ship or perhaps have we had a night of the long knives?

Hunting is also under pressure for other reasons, continued urbanisation and changes in land ownership mean there’s less areas to hunt. Some land owners no longer want the hunt on their land and the potential for conflict and negative press that comes with them. Shooting interests have increased and while I obviously have no love for this either the last thing shoots want is a bunch of rampant hounds and riders charging through their area and scattering the game birds all over the place before they can be shot (this happened last season while we were sabbing the Oakley, all very amusing for us). Another problem they have is that the old guard of experienced huntsmen are retiring and there simply isn’t the new blood coming through to take up these jobs. Let’s face it, apart from those actually involved in hunting everyone is going to hate you, the pay is probably pretty bad and there’s a fair chance you’ll end up in court.

Not exactly an appealing job description.

Old Timmy and his cronies at the so called Countryside Alliance may think they have the bragging rights over the recent National Trust vote on trail hunting because they think they won. The truth is, they lost.

It’s emerging that many members didn’t receive their voting forms and the whole legality of the voting system is being called into question but even if you ignore these anomalies the simple fact is without the discretionary votes of the pro-hunt NT board the outcome would have been very different indeed. The margin was close, 299 votes from a total of over 60,000. The NT may think they have dealt with the situation for now but it’s certainly not going away and have probably made a rod for their own back.

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They will now have to show they are serious about the new rules regarding trail hunting, no animal based scents, no terrier men and publishing dates and locations of all hunt meets on NT land. Of course now the hunts and CA are asking for those conditions to be changed but, if they truly believe they are going to be legally trail hunting what would they have to hide? We all know the real reasons and make no bones about it, the NT will be held to account over the licensing and conditions. They will be scrutinised very closely indeed and as it stands no hunt has made any application for licenses to hunt on NT land. We’ll see what happens next.

Moving on from that an interesting situation arose yesterday after a sab colleague of mine reminded me of the poster from the Oakley Hunt summer show.

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We decided to do a little digging on the main sponsor – Green Energy UK (plc). This lead to some interesting findings which we thought the public should be aware of and in turn published the statement this statement on the Beds & Bucks Hunt Sabs Facebook page (see here). We also published links on Twitter for maximum exposure. Needless to say your average consumer doesn’t like being lied to regarding claims of being ethical but also supporting fox hunting. Lots of bad reviews were left on the company’s Facebook page and tweets were rolling in thick and fast. Finally Green Energy issued a statement and the B&B responded accordingly (see here). At this time Green Energy were actively removing the all the bad reviews in an attempt to save face. Their statement was clearly 2 fingers up to the consumers, they weren’t going to budge on their position and their support of the Oakley no matter how they tried to spin it however they severely underestimated the indignation of the people and aligning themselves with a blood sports lobbying group (the so called CA) was a huge mistake.

This only fanned the flames and people power took hold. They were flooded with more complaints and bad reviews until they were finally backed into a corner and once again had to issue another statement to which B&B responded once more (see here). We’re in no doubt that the ethos of the people in charge (including the husband of Oakley Hunt master Lady Lydia Thompson, Sir Peter Thompson) will not have changed and they are no doubt still pro hunt, however we have shown that the general public won’t stand for lies and that hunting is pretty much universally hated by everyone except the wildlife killers themselves.

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Doug Stewart – Green Energy UK CEO

It will also show other companies that supporting blood sports is bad for business and they risk losing customers. Just like Theresa May found out in the general election, blood sports are political and financial poison. Those that support them are finding themselves increasingly isolated. There’s more than one way to skin the proverbial cat. We’ll sab them in the fields and we’ll hit these organisations financially as well. We’ll pursue every possible avenue and make life as difficult as possible until the inevitable outcome is reached.

So, after my publishing previous post I had some very nice comments on here and social media with encouragement to continue writing and I thank everyone for the kind words. I’ve decided to continue at least for another season and see what happens then. There may not be the weekly updates which I tried to publish previously but if there’s a subject which I feel needs a wider audience or promoting then I’ll put something out.

Moving on from there we are getting ever closer to the vote on Trail Hunting on National Trust land at their AGM on the 21st October. I’ve covered this previously (see here) and the National Dis-Trust are keeping up the pressure and encouraging members to use their vote appropriately. Even though I’ve said this before the importance of this vote cannot be understated and I urge all NT members to vote with their conscience and ban trail hunting on NT land for good. This will of course have serious ramifications for some of the hunts in question, with no land to use some of these hunts will cease to exist. Of course this is great news not just for the hunted wildlife but for the residents of these areas who suffer the bullying and intimidation from the hunts and their supporters.

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In our own neck of the woods we continue to work with our local police in an effort to break down the historical barriers between monitors/sabs and the law enforcement  authorities. Obviously things aren’t going to change overnight but I think we are making progress and hope the situation will continue to improve. We still have our liaison officers but a new inspector has taken on the responsibility for rural operations and I met with him for the first time last night. While new to the post and the hunting act in general I was pleased to see he’d taken some time to inform himself of the situation and had also spoken to at least one Master of our local hunt (the Oakley). It’s always interesting to get an insight from the police’s point of view and would have loved to have been a fly-on-the-wall at the meeting he had with Lady Lydia Thompson – pillar of the community, millionaire, choralist, model (I won’t publish the pics, they’ll give you nightmares) and wildlife killer.

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The Angry Egg gets his collar felt.

Despite all their claims to the contrary and much like many other hunts up and down the country the Oakley openly flout the law. We’ve caught them cubbing several times already this autumn and saved foxes when we were there. I believe the new inspector can see that this is taking place and while he also knows that getting a conviction under the hunting act is unlikely he can however restrict the hunts use of thugs to impede our operations. One particularly rotund chap we call the ‘Angry Egg’ was arrested a couple of weeks ago for another assault on a sab. Video evidence was supplied to the police and he was charged with common assault (after spending a very long time in the cells while I was in the pub) and bailed away from any hunting activity until his court case. I believe he is in court this week or at least very shortly regarding an incident last year and has to face a further 3 charges of assault and another of theft of one of our radios during a meet of the Pythley hunt at the very end of last season. Just restricting these morons will be a victory not only for us but also for justice and the decent majority of people who oppose hunting. People like him have been getting away with this kind of unacceptable behaviour for too long and but now the tables are turning. Sooner or later they’ll have to give up the thug act or end up behind bars.

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Lady Lydia Thompson.

Of course Lady Lydia would never admit to employing these low lives and denies all knowledge of them, even though previous master Guy Napier asked them not to attend Oakley meets previously after witnessing first hand their violence. Just like the hounds they are merely means to an end, tools to be used and discarded once their usefulness has run out.

We’ve changed the game and the thugs don’t know how to play by the new rules.

First off apologies for the lack of recent updates. As much as I’d to say I’d been sunning myself somewhere exotic the reality is I’ve been in bed with flu. Not the man flu type but the proper “kill me now” one. Between the bouts of coughing and splitting headache I had to endure the awful daytime TV, anyway enough about me . . .

It was noted by someone on Facebook recently that the amount of anti-hunt stories and videos making it into the mainstream media this year was incredible and they’re absolutely right. I’ve never known so many stories and videos being published. Of course sabs and montiors are no mugs when it comes to wielding a video camera and utilising social media but I think what makes this year stand out is both the quality and quantity with even the traditionally pro-hunt papers unable to resist the news which the public clearly crave and feel so strongly about.

In light of this you would think that the hunts would be doing their best to avoid any adverse publicity but it seems the opposite is true. There have been a significant number of hunt kills this season and many have been captured in all their gruesome detail. This in turn has to some extent forced the police to act, largely due to the will of public opinion and while these acts of barbarism continue to take place in our countryside support for a complete ban will certainly grow. Even though it was a manifesto promise by the tories it seems any kind of a vote on a repeal would be a long way off right now and even the most staunch hunting supporter would have to admit that it is extremely unlikely that any such vote could be won. As more and more bad PR comes in it only fuels the fire of those against this archaic bloodsport and pushes those either ignorant or undecided firmly into the anti camp.

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The victims windscreen.

This was highlighted perfectly by an incident which was reported to us by a member of the public asking for advice.

It appears our local hunt (the Oakley) were hunting in the vicinity of Meppershall, Bedfordshire. The light was fading and going about their business this person happened upon the hunt while driving the lanes. With hounds and quad bikes all over the road it was lucky a more serious incident didn’t take place however it would seem that Jack Harris (or Calamity Jack as we call him) took exception to someone else having the temerity to use the public highway by smashing the windscreen of this persons car with his riding whip.

Fortunately this person also had a dash cam running and recorded the whole incident. This has of course been passed on to the police and a complaint been made. The sheer arrogance show by the huntsman and the hunt in general is astounding. What right do they have to behave in this manner and the belief that they own the road? Hopefully Jack will be prosecuted for Criminal Damage and the Masters have the decency to offer a public apology and pay for the damage caused. Old Lady Lydia Thompson (Oakley Master) is worth a few bob so paying for a new windscreen would be a drop in the ocean for someone of her means but she looks tighter than a camels arse in a sandstorm so I won’t hold my breath.

Next up was an incident which happened near Allerton, North Yorkshire on the 28th January. Hounds from the York & Ainsty North Hunt ran on to the busy A1 bringing both carriages to a standstill. Unfortunately, but hardly surprisingly a hound was struck by a car and killed. The lady who was driving the car was obviously clearly distressed by the incident however the outcome could have been significantly worse. This kind of reckless behaviour by a hunt is nothing new but once again it only reinforces the fact that they were openly hunting as no trail would be laid in such a dangerous place. Not only that but the current trend by huntsman to let the hounds go off by some distance so they can claim an accidental kill should it happen increases the likelihood of these kind of incidents occurring. Hounds under control of the huntsman would be in no danger of crossing busy main roads and putting themselves and the general public at risk.

Hounds however are just dispensable tools of this grisly trade and hunts would rather lose a few hounds than face prosecution for illegal hunting. Of course this pays little consideration to other countryside and road users as hounds run riot where they please be it private gardens or busy roads.

Lastly there was the kill by the Cheshire Foxhounds caught on video by Cheshire Hunt Sabs. In their report on the incident they suspect the fox was bagged prior to the hunt and released in front of the hounds. Full report can be found on their Facebook page. This story like so many other recently made the national media with even the Daily Mail reporting on it.

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Cheshire police issued the fairly standard statement regarding the incident however this type of response doesn’t fill you with a lot of hope regarding any sort of robust investigation and follow up. But the bigger picture shows once again that the hunts are being caught in the act and regardless of the police the will of the general public against hunting will only be strengthened as these barbaric practices committed by a tiny minority are brought to the attention of everyone.

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Standard response.

In the day and age of social media and instant news where everyone is carrying a recording device of some sort you’d think the hunts would be on their best behaviour and try to maintain the image of fine upstanding members of the rural communities the Countryside Alliance paint them out to be however with these constant slip ups in the PR war they’re not just shooting themselves in the foot, they’re laying the foundations for a more solid and reasonable law with which to defend our wildlife and bringing more sabs and monitors into the fields. However I get the feeling that they already well aware of this, know their nasty activity is on borrowed time and are just arrogantly making hay while they can.