Townies don't understand how rural matters should work
News that the hunting ban may be lifted will be greeted with delight throughout the length and breadth of rural England by people who have the countryside and its welfare at heart.
But I can already hear the howls of anguish from the "anti" brigade, the bleeding-heart townies who don't understand how matters rural should work – and care even less.
If they really had fox welfare at heart they would support the overturn of a thoroughly nasty little bit of Labour legislation, and find out what actually happens. But, of course, they won't.
For the simple fact is that hunting assured the perpetuation of a strong and healthy fox population, essential for the balance of nature. One in ten of the foxes found by a pack of hounds (they might find three or four during a day's hunting) would be accounted for, invariably the old and sickly, killed quickly; a swift nip on the back of the neck, taking about two seconds.
Of course it is natural for a wild animal to run away from a pack of hounds – but that does not mean the animal is "terrified". I have seen a hunted fox, with the hounds only a couple of hundred yards away, stop and kill a chicken, and then make off with it in his mouth. And he got away (and good luck to him).
What has happened since the ban? Well, without the control provided by hunting, anyone with a shotgun has had the excuse of going out at night and blasting away at the local fox population, laming and maiming and creating a cruel situation of foxes dying slowly from starvation and gangrene. Unlike hunting, there has been no closed season for this, so pregnant vixens and little cubs have suffered terribly.
And the fox population has, of course, subsequently been depleted, with the knock-on effect of many more pests, like rats, on farms.
This latest move by the Government has not come as any surprise. The Countryside Alliance has been predicting it for many months. I asked the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson about it at the Royal Cornwall Show back in June.
Without denying anything, he said: "It's within my powers to make changes to the wording of the Act. We are currently receiving a significant number of ideas about a change which we are going to analyse."
Now, it seems, the time has come.
I support hunting because I enjoy it. I would enjoy it a lot more if I thought we were achieving something positive.