Which party will benefit most from the anti-hunting move?
Whatever you might think of him you have to concede that Tony Blair is an extraordinary political strategist and he would not be pushing the hunting ban within a year of the General Election if he didn’t think it would help Labour at the ballot box.
The veteran Labour MP, Dennis Skinner, put his finger on it when he told MPs earlier in the year – “there is not a subject under the sun that is better suited to the Labour Party, for raising its morale in the constituencies, than a ban on fox hunting”.
For Labour the move is honouring a manifesto pledge. If it had not tried to bring in the ban it would have led to more disillusionment amongst the activists.
No doubt the PM has worked out that the votes Labour might lose are in rural areas where there are not many vulnerable seats. Going ahead with the hunting ban means more Labour votes and probably retaining more seats.
For the Tories this could be dangerous. They don’t want to be seen supporting law-breakers and violence yet at the same time there’s a section of the community looking to the party for help and support. One political effect is that more people might stick with the Tories because this is a key point on the domestic agenda rather than slipping away to UKIP.
For the Lib Dems the political impact very much depends on local conditions with candidates and defending MPs taking very different views.
The danger for Labour is that it can all look so trivial. With so many issues facing the country why are they investing so much time and political capital in something that can be presented as a form of class war-fare?
The references to “the miners’ strike” , used by some on the Labour side, could be dangerous. Tony Blair won in 97 and 01 because be made it safe for the middle-classes to vote Labour. This could undermine that positioning at a time when support has collapsed because of the war.
A PERSONAL NOTE. Nearly twenty years ago I was Director of PR and campaigns for the RSPCA and launched the Society’s first campaign in 160 years on the issue following its controversial change of policy to oppose hunting. This involvement came to haunt me seven years later when I was standing for the Lib Dems in a Bedfordshire seat at the 1992 General Election. After this being featured in a local paper we lost a whole delivery network in a difficult to ogranise rural part of the seat because members who had for years been the heart of our organisation there could not stomach working a candidate who opposed hunting. We never recovered. This is an issue on which those who care do so very deeply.
LATEST BETTING NEWS. William Hill are back with their Hartlepool market. Their prices are:- LAB 2/5: LIBD 7/4: CON 16/1: UKIP 25/1. But if you want to bet on the Tories the current betting exchange prices is 109/1.
Sporting Index have suspended their spread betting book on the General Election seat market. We do not know why.