Urban Hunting Is a Small Test of the Big Society

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 6, 2010 | Go to article overview

Urban Hunting Is a Small Test of the Big Society


Byline: Sebastian Shakespeare

UNTIL this week I never really understood what Dave Cameron's Big Society was all about. It's vague, abstract and vacuous and Boris Johnson's rival notion of a big society, as in obese society, is far more comprehensible (at least it's a concrete image). Now I have had a sudden revelation. Those urban fox killers are a perfect (or imperfect) example of Cameron's Big Society in action. Dave wants to empower communities to do things for themselves. People power, he calls it, redistributing power from the government to the man and woman on the street. "These are the things you do because it's your passion," says the PM.

Well, you can't accuse the fox killers of lacking passion. The self-styled east London-based Urban Foxhunters beat a fox to death and then posted it online, claiming the fox did not suffer as it was drugged.

"We will not be intimidated by crazies;. we are performing a public service," said their spokesman, Lone Horseman. It is a moot point whether they themselves are crazy but there is no denying they are performing a public service. It is about time we learned to be big enough not to have small feelings about foxes. They are pests. And as we now know they have changed their habits and started attacking children.

Whenever I see foxes two thoughts spring to mind. The first is the sublime line by Oxford's new Professor of Poetry Geoffrey Hill: "There goes a fox like a swift perfect image of itself. …

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