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The Fox Finally Wins!

Marzo 2005
L’Inghilterra volta pagina e vieta finalmente la caccia alla volpe, una tradizione dell’aristocrazia vecchia di secoli. Vittoria degli animalisti o semplice manovra elettorale?

di John Rigg

File audio:

Speaker: Justin Ratcliffe (Standard British accent)

The British Government banned fox hunting on November 19th last year on a day of confusion and anger in the House of Commons. That day 400,000 protesters marched through London and the House of Lords refused to confirm the new law. The Government offered a postponement until 2006, but the House of Lords refused again. So the Government used the Parliament Act to pass the law without the acceptance of the House of Lords. In February 2005, hunt supporters challenged the use of the Parliament Act in the High Court but failed, so the ban became effective on February 18th. This is good news for foxes. Each year fox hunters kill about 70,000 foxes.

The Anti-Fox Hunting Movement

The ban on fox hunting is the result of a protest movement that began in the eighteenth century. It didn’t become strong, however, until the Great Depression of the 1930s. After the Second World War, the Labour Government held the Scott Henderson Inquiry into cruelty to wild animals. The report decided shooting, gassing, trapping and poisoning caused more suffering than hunting and so hunting was not banned. The Hunt Saboteurs Association, formed in 1963, often send protesters to infiltrate hunt meetings and re-open the fox holes the hunters have filled in. They alert foxes and set false trails by dragging socks filled with dog food across the fields. Another tactic is to use hunting horns to mimic the hunt master and confuse the hounds. They have filmed the hunt and circulate pictures of hounds killing foxes. They have learnt to use the media, contacting newspapers and television companies, in order to educate the public. The Animal Liberation Front, formed in 1976, is more extreme. This group claims to be non-violent, but there are stories of letter bombs sent to hunt members and other acts of violence.

The real reasons behind the ban

Why did Parliament finally pass the law? The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was against the ban and he wanted a compromise. The Labour Members of Parliament wanted the ban. Fox hunting is a traditional target for the Labour Party and its members: the ban would be a blow to the rich. Blair didn’t stop the law because he is preparing for elections later this year. Fox hunters are not Labour voters, so he didn’t risk losing votes. He hopes to regain the support of his Party after the disaster of his Iraq campaign.

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banned - ha vietato.

anger - rabbia.

House of Commons (anche Lower House, Camera dei Comuni).

House of Lords - (anche Upper House, Camera dei Pari).

Parliament Act - norma che sancisce la superio­rità dei Comuni sui Lords.

challenged - protestarono contro.

trapping and poisoning - cattura con le trappole e avvelenamento.

the hunters have filled in - che i cacciatori hanno riempito.

set false trails by dragging socks - preparano piste false trascinando calzini...

hunting horns - corni da caccia.

hounds - cani (da caccia).

a blow - un colpo.