Anorak News | Blair Outfoxed

Blair Outfoxed

by | 1st, July 2003

‘THE unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable – Oscar Wilde’s quote about fox-hunting and a pretty good description of rebel Labour MPs turning on their leader.

Tree-hunting never really held the same excitement

The House Of Commons last night voted for a total ban on hunting with hounds in what was technically a free vote but which all the papers see as a blow for the Prime Minister.

Tony Blair had (typically) wanted a compromise motion that would have allowed hunting to continue only in certain areas and under tight conditions.

No doubt, a regulator called Offox would have been set up to police the remaining hunts.

But all that became unnecessary as the Guardian reports on what it calls a ‘humiliating rebuff’ for Blair as more than 300 Labour MPs, including seven Cabinet ministers, defied Downing Street to vote for an outright ban.

The Times calls the Government climbdown ‘an astonishing retreat’, saying that anti-hunting MPs are now predicting that they will have achieved their aim by the middle of next year.

But the Telegraph foresees problems in the House Of Lords and says Blair will now be under great pressure to use his majority to force the ban through Parliament.

The Time says Blair had wanted to show rural England that he was trying to save one of their prized pastimes, but was forced to capitulate to his own party.

The hope is that, by giving in to the backbenchers on hunting, he will be able to count on greater support for crucial votes to come, particularly on foundation hospitals.

As someone almost once said, to lose one vote may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.

Posted: 1st, July 2003 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink