Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Manners maketh hunters

From Mr J.N.P. Watson

Sir: David Welch ('Cruel, cowardly and boorish', 23 March) is indeed unfortunate if, when at home in Somerset he informs fox-hunters that they are not welcome, 'I am usually abused, sometimes threatened and invariably told that I do not understand the ways of the countryside.' During my 22 seasons (1969-91) as hunting correspondent of Country Life, when I travelled throughout the British Isles attending meets and riding (or running, in the case of beagles) with the various packs of hounds - fox, deer and hare - I very rarely encountered rudeness, arrogance or bad manners. Nor did I observe such dialogue between Masters, hunt staff and followers and landowners, farmers and smallholders. Indeed, I would say that the hunts are celebrated for their courtesy.

J.N.P. Watson

Horsham, West Sussex

From Mr Alexander Baldock

Sir: David Welch's pique over the deplorable manners of his local hunts seems to have misted his judgment. The merits of hunting don't depend on risk to the participants, any more than the slim chance of being savaged by a trout invalidates angling. He frets that hunting leads to the fox's death 'over a prolonged period in an inhumane manner'. Perhaps he prefers the gangrenous rotting away produced by trapping, the unhurried death of a fox disembowelled by shotgun, or the salivating agony of poisoning?

Alexander Baldock

London W14

From Lesley Bryant

Sir: David Welch was most fortunate in that he could hunt with different packs of foxhounds and staghounds in England, Ireland and the USA before deciding that hunting was 'cruel, cowardly and boorish'. If he and like-minded idiots get their ban, no one will have that freedom of choice.

Lesley Bryant

Crediton, Devon

From Mr John Verney

Sir: Thank you for printing the excellent article on fox-hunting. Addicted as I am to The Spectator, I must say I never expected to read in it an article which proves, in the right-wing's own backyard, that you don't have to be mad, bad or a Leftie to abhor hunting and hunters.

John Verney

Alberta, Canada

Niceness isn't enough

From Mr David Williams

Sir: Francis Maude's thoughts ('A phoenix, not a dodo', 23 March) are the essence of why hard-working, real-world, natural conservatives just cannot be bothered to vote Tory any more (self included). His intellectually bankrupt apologies are little match for the populist and brazen New Labour machine. His four core-strands of conservatism appear to be: be nice to gays, blacks and women; favour communities (whatever that means); give more power to local councils; and be pro-European.

When considering how they spend their money and demand services, do black, gay or female people think with a minority perspective or with a what-do-I-get-for-my-- money perspective? I don't care if MPs fancy men or women; I do care if they are stupid.

Do I think of myself as part of a community? No: I have friends, family, colleagues, hobbies. But I want to control my own destiny and I want freedom from state interference.

David Williams

London SW15

From Mr Francis Bennion

Sir: After reading Francis Maude's article I felt like starting the Indecent party. Maude says that a decent party shows real respect for everybody, whereas I believe respect belongs to those who have earned it by their deeds. Maude says that a decent party must reflect the face of contemporary Britain, while I do not very much care for the face of contemporary Britain.

The fact is that the oiks have won, and that is not going to be reversed. For the Conservative party to transform itself into a choice for the oiks to consider as an alternative is demeaning, and anyway not likely to achieve results.

The people who supplied the Conservative party with its distinctive values have mostly gone. It seems rather shabby to convert it into something entirely different just to gain votes. …

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