Fox hunting is one of those issues which a small number of people on either side of the argument feel very strongly about. It is something could change votes for those with firm views.
The poll findings above from today’s ComRes survey for the Daily Mirror shows that across the political divide the ban on foxhunting is strongly supported even by CON voters.
So TMay’s comments that she is in favour of hunting and will allow a free vote, assuming she wins, has unnecessarily opened up an issue where she is on the wrong side of public opinion.
Tony Blair knew of the political potency of fox hunting when he was PM by always returning to the issue when he was in some trouble. So the legislation that’s currently on the statute books was very much the result of Blair trying to change the narrative in the aftermath of the Iraq War.
This is an area where the LAB movement can largely come together because as well as the animal welfare issues fox hunting is very much perceived as something that “toffs” do.
By raising it at this time TMay is reminding people that the Tories are the party of “toffs” – a move that risks galvanising some traditional LAB support. In any case support for fox hunting is very much a rural issue and there are few marginals in rural areas.
The polling numbers are unequivocal – TMay should leave well alone and not dilute her strong Brexit message.