River Wissey Lovell Fuller

The Liberty and Livelihood March

November 2002

Some background information and opinion on September's march

The Liberty and Livelihood March was far from defending the right of wealthy landowners to do what they like with the countryside whilst receiving subsidies for doing it. (As stated in the village soapbox October issue).

The very core of country life is under threat from politicians who know little and care even less about rural life. Yes the March was about the future of Fox hunting and Shooting and Fishing and other Country sports. It was also about the decline in Agriculture, the closures of Village Schools, Post Offices, Banks, exorbitant fuel taxes, lack of public transport in rural areas and the escalation of rural Crime. None of which if you live in an effected area are minor issues. These are the concerns of everybody who live in and work in the countryside.

The fact is, if we don't have a vibrant rural economy everybody who lives and works in villages like ours suffer. The feed merchants sell less the engineers sell less and so on and life spirals down until there no local businesses left to employ the local people, who ine turn have to move the towns to find employment leaving their homes to be bought not by locals but by City dwellers as second homes at prices that the younger generation cannot afford.

Farm incomes in the UK are the lowest for decades, and yet the uninformed and the urban population knock the farming fraternity as subsidy grabbing wealthy land owners, who spend their time digging up hedge rows, rearing BSE infected Cattle, spreading Foot & Mouth disease, Factory Farming and Poisoning the Crops with pesticides and so on. How wrong they are, I would refer you to the article in the October issue of the Pump (25 Reasons to be Proud of British Farming)

The average Farm income in the UK is a little over £10,000 pa. As to the subsidy question, every civilised country has subsidies it is not just the prerogative of the British farmers. In fact the only country not have a subsidy program is in fact New Zealand. British need subsidies to compete with the rest of the world. In the life of the present Government more farmers have gone out of business than Mugabe has put out in Zimbabwe. Why you may ask?

Because of the ineffectual handling of the Foot&Mouth disease outbreak, not standing up to the French illegal BSE ban to name but two reasons.

Now to old chestnut Fox Hunting, I wonder how many people who condemn Hunting have actually been out for a few days with an open mind and witnessed an average day? Not too many I suspect. I have hunted all my life , sometimes on horse back other times following in the car, I believe that hunting foxes with hounds is the most effective way of controlling the Fox population, The Burns report came to the same conclusion. I can't expect those who have closed minds to change their attitude however I would ask you this. In your heart of hearts don't you dislike the people who take part because they are who you perceive them to be: rich landed gentry, wealthy stockbrokers or whatever. How much of this angers you, disgusts you. If you have any of these feelings about the debate, whether to ban or not you are not in a position to make a creditable decision. Bigotry cannot have a place here, the issue is quite clear to ban hunting on the grounds of cruelty or not. Hunting is proven to be the most effective way to control foxes, shooting them, poisoning and trapping will cause far stress and cruelty than hunting: this conclusion has also been taken by some members of The League Against Cruel Sports, who have changed sides and joined the pro hunting campaign.

The Prime minister is using the hunting issue as a sop to gain support of his back bench old labour MP's in return for support for Iraq, Railtrac and Pressure from the Unions. Surely all the Parliamentary time would be better spent dealing with more important issues such as Child abuse, the Drug culture and other such humanitarian causes rather than pandering to left wing MPs who see a chance to bash the "Toffs".

It is for all these reasons that 407,719 men women and children went to London to defend the rights and freedom of Country people. From the Glens of Scotland, the Valleys of Wales, from the Shires and the West Country to the Fenns and Marshes they came, flocking to London to make up the biggest civil rights protest ever! The Countryside Alliance organised the march with great skill and precision as they did on the 1998 March. Yes I was proud to be there along with thousands more from this County.

Tim Gaunt-Baker

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