Mean Fields: Jonathan Miller: Tally-ho, time to hunt the toffs
It was inevitable that the infinitely cynical Blair regime would pick its moment to throw a hunting bill, like a fresh-risen vixen, to its mangy pack of backbenchers. Tally-ho - time to hunt the toffs! There's trouble at the ministry for transport paralysis so obviously this is the moment to launch a diversionary class war. They are already busy re-launching foot and mouth disease to keep the peasants at home.
Richard Burge, the chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, came to see me the other day after I wrote several rude things about his organisation. He is afraid of horses and said bravely he would come back in the later spring and we could teach him to ride. I think he is ready to relaunch his march on London if we are not quarantined again in our plague-ridden fields. He tells me his best argument is the civil liberties one, but he is wrong.
The best argument is that just as many foxes will be killed just as gruesomely after a hunting ban as now. Mike Foster, the backbencher most identified with this ridiculous cause, complained on the Todaprogramme last week that in hunting, animals were killed "alive". The man is a fool.
Apparently we are now to shoot them. Try it yourself. Or while out roaming get ready to duck under the fusillade of high-powered bullets.
Idiot Foster and his friends will not be advancing fox welfare one iota, but this isn't the point. It is the glory of daily appearances on Today, holding forth in complete ignorance to smug BBC interviewers. It means nothing. Blair and Campbell have done this before when it suited them and now here we go again.
I hold no brief for the hunters. The hunting set is mostly as unspeakable as advertised. At the point-to-point in Parham, Sussex, last week, you could puke over the elocuted accents. How can they be surprised people hate them? The sabs are worse - bullies, cowards and thugs, cruel to horses, not beyond throwing missiles at children.
The RSPCA, which is at the forefront of the campaign to ban hunting, has asked for a meeting to discuss my contempt for them. Two senior spin doctors are booked to come over.
Please come with answers to the following queries: Why not campaign for rats? Why is hunting with horses so much more dreadful than hunting with cats? Why not ban sushi? This is a road to madness driven by an insane species-ist relativism.
Operating on the extreme of ridiculousness, this "royal" society is demanding repressive and useless legislation, creating division where there is a need for solidarity.
And it does this while cravenly turning its glance from the real animal welfare outrages perpetrated by its friends in new Labour.
Among those intending to vote for a hunting ban are the same ministers who dubiously slaughtered 10m healthy animals and condemned millions more to misery. The RSPCA claims to be a democratic organisation but tried to exclude people with the "wrong" opinion from joining.
Jasper Gerard writes in the Home section of this newspaper today of his search for rural Arcadia.
I like Jasper. So my advice to him is: abandon this quest before it plays itself out into inevitable tragedy. Jasper, there is no Arcadia to be found in the country but rather limitless frustration and endless expense even before the fox-shooting season starts.