Two of Scotland’s leading animal welfare charities are staging a rally in the centre of Edinburgh this weekend in their campaign to protect the laws which ban fox hunting in Scotland, England and Wales.
The rally is part of a UK-wide campaign ‘Votes for Vinny’ calling on General Election candidates to support a cruelty free future for animals. A Battle Bus set off from London on Monday and will arrive in Edinburgh on Sunday (21st May) for the last stop on the tour of Great Britain.
The event in Edinburgh takes place just days after the Prime Minister, Theresa May pledged her support for fox hunting saying she had “always supported fox hunting” and that she would give Parliament a free vote on the issue.
In Scotland, despite the legislation banning fox hunting being different to that south of the border, the issue has also featured prominently on the political agenda in recent months. Following a review by Lord Bonomy of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002, the Scottish Government committed to consult to strengthen the law. Earlier this week, responding to a question from Patrick Harvie MSP in First Minister’s Questions, the First Minister said “Be under no doubt at all this government opposes fox hunting and that’s the position we have long taken and the position we continue to take.” A petition to really ban hunting in Scotland has been signed by almost 18,000 people.
Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, said: “We are appalled that the Prime Minister has pledged to hold a free vote to turn the clocks back to cruelty, potentially bringing back fox hunting in England and Wales. While the situation in Scotland is different and we welcomed the First Minister’s statement on the issue this week, we certainly can’t afford to be complacent.
“Across the whole of the UK we are asking General Election candidates to support us in ensuring the laws which ban hunting and upheld and where necessary strengthened, to make sure hunting is really banned everywhere.”
Harry Huyton, Director of OneKind added: “I welcome the clear statement from the First Minister this week that she and the Scottish Government are totally opposed to fox hunting. Fox hunting is cruel, outdated and unnecessary. There is no place for it in a modern Scotland, and today we are calling on the Scottish Government to deliver on the First Minister’s statement and issue a public consultation that specifically puts forward a proposal for a full ban on mounted fox hunting.”
Green MSP for Lothian Alison Johnstone who is speaking at the rally said: “While the Prime Minister proudly declares that she has ‘always supported fox hunting’ and maintains a commitment to its reintroduction in England and Wales, by contrast in Scotland, the First Minister has assured my Green colleague, Patrick Harvie MSP, of her personal opposition to this cruel and barbaric act.
“It is untenable then that the law in Scotland remains even weaker than that south of the border, as I highlighted in 2015, and it is time for the SNP to finally deliver on their rhetoric, stand up to the hunting lobby, and deliver the ban they apparently support and the Scottish public overwhelmingly want to see.”
SNP candidate for Edinburgh North and Leith, Deidre Brock said: “Foxhunting is a barbaric hangover from the past that would be better consigned to history. It serves no purpose as pest control, it offers no benefit to the countryside and it is unspeakably cruel. What lessons will be offered to children growing up in a society that goes backwards in legislating on violence against animals?
“Dog fighting, hare coursing and badger baiting are all illegal now and fox hunting should go the same way. Any opportunity I get to oppose Theresa May’s plans on foxhunting I’ll take. English Votes for English Laws might prevent Scottish MPs from voting to keep the ban on fox hunting but I’ll do me level best to persuade English MPs to do the right thing.”
General Election candidates, MSPs, a giant fox and supporters of the hunting ban will be at the rally outside the Scottish National Gallery on the Mound in Edinburgh.
Notes to editor
1. The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain’s leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).
2. OneKind exposes, challenges and ends cruelty to Scotland’s animals through campaigns, research & education.
3. Media enquiries to Louise Robertson on 07930 539832 / firstname.lastname@example.org