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Tory MP Ben Wallace joins British Hound Sports Association board

As the general election approaches, the Tories continue to remind us why they’re not fit for government. News that MP and ex-Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has joined the British Hound Sports Association board is yet another indication that this party needs to be ousted.

Of course, anti-hunting campaigners have always known that Wallace is pro-hunting. Back in 2002, he made his point on fox hunting clear in the Scottish parliament when he said:

This debate is not only about welfare issues; it is about freedoms. I am here to defend the right of people to hunt foxes.

In his role as Defence Secretary between 2019 and 2023, Wallace had overall responsibility for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), overseeing the department as its operating wing – the Defence Infrastructure Organisation – issued trail hunting licences to hunt on MoD land.

 

Ben Wallace

 

During his time in the role, he went out of his way to protect the Royal Artillery Hunt. The hunt was founded by military officers, describes itself as “the only remaining military hunt in the UK”, and is notorious for illegally hunting the southwest’s wildlife on Salisbury Plain. Its criminal activities didn’t bother Wallace, though.

In late 2022, the then-Defence Secretary sent the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) a letter, terminating a memorandum of understanding between the animal rights organisation and the MoD. The memorandum was supposed to inform LACS of when fox hunting was taking place on the publicly-owned Salisbury Plain land. Wallace cited the behaviour of protesters as one of the main reasons for terminating the memorandum, as well as “security concerns”.

At the time, Wallace tweeted a photo of hunt saboteurs, saying:

“The only people that should be masked and camouflaged on MOD land are Armed Forces personnel training to defend the UK.”

And then in October 2023, Wallace wrote in the Daily Telegraph, moaning that “we should all be worried by the policing of [trail hunting].” Of course, he wasn’t finally speaking out against the fact that the MoD Police allows the Royal Artillery Hunt to get away with murder. No, he was arguing the farcical point that the police “have clearly taken the decision to turn a blind eye” to hunt saboteur “thuggery”.

His friends at the Countryside Alliance were delighted with the article, with Polly Portwin parroting the usual CA narrative about the supposed lawfulness of hunting:

“We welcome Ben Wallace’s recognition of the ongoing discrimination in the policing of hunt saboteurs. It cannot be right that these bullies are able to carry out their campaigns of terrorising law-abiding rural people.”

Not a one-off

Wallace has been MP for Wyre and Preston North since 2010. The seat will be abolished in the next election, with the areas of the constituency being distributed to neighbouring constituencies. Wallace, too, has said he will be standing down for the next election. But he is a stark reminder that the Conservative Party can not be trusted when it comes to protecting wildlife.

There are more in the party like Wallace – such as Mark Jenkinson – previously a UKIP politician before he joined Conservative. He has been the Tory MP for Workington constituency in Cumbria since 2019. For the next election he will be running for the Penrith and Solway seat.

Jenkinson is outspoken about his love of hunting, and he is infamous for insulting or blocking those who challenge him about it on social media. On 5 April, Jenkinson posed with a beagle puppy, and tweeted that he has visited the Black Combe and District Beagles:

 

mark jenkinson twitter

He his tweet, he spouted the usual pro-hunting narrative that we usually hear from the Countryside Alliance, that the “rural way of life” being “under threat”, this time from the Labour Party. Too often, we are seeing hunters and their supporters lumping “rural communities” into one homogeneous group which loves to hunt wildlife. This, of course, isn’t true – and if the Conservative Party took a true interest in these communities, it would recognise this.

In December 2023, Jenkinson posted on Facebook that he’d attended the North Cumberland Hunt’s Boxing Day meet. Cumbria Hunt Saboteurs wrote in response:

“Mark Jenkinson MP for Workington boasted about attending an illegal foxhunt on LDNPA [Lake District National Park Authority] land with the notorious North Cumberland foxhounds on Boxing Day. In our democratic society, this MP has deleted comments and blocked many members of the general public who were asking valid questions about his actions.”

And there’s even more

On top of this, Protect the Wild’s Charlie Moores has previously written of the Conservative Friends of the Countryside (CFC), made up of other pro-hunting, pro-shooting Tories that we should all be wary of:

“its members include the same vociferous pro-hunt and pro-shooting MPs that have long spoken as one with the Countryside Alliance and BASC (the shooting lobbyists) and who in the last twelve months have derailed Parliamentary debates on snares and on shooting Woodcock (see “Through the looking glass with the shooting lobby”). Prominent loudmouth Sir Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire for example, wants the ban on fox hunting overturned, calling the Hunting Act “class war”. Another founder member is Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the Old Etonian MP for the Cotswolds, who is an outspoken shooting campaigner with close ties to BASC and who in July was calling on Ministers to overturn the decision to withdraw General Licence 43 for shoots releasing pheasants on special protection areas. (SSSIs). Little wonder the Fieldsports Channel (a YouTube feed devoted to killing wildlife) dub Clifton-Brown “our unofficial minister for shooting”.

Let’s get the Tories out

It is very clear that the Conservative Party – which puts pro-shooting ministers in key Defra roles, and which wants to cull England’s badgers indefinitely – has actively declared war on Britain’s wildlife and needs to be ousted. With Labour having a running chance of winning the next general election, there is some hope that animals in the UK might get offered protection. But we can’t be complacent. We must ensure that we tactically vote to get the Tories out, and we must pressure Labour to keep their promises, which, among other things, are to making hunting with dogs properly illegal, and to end the badger cull.

Sign our petition, calling on Labour to keep its word and end the badger cull, should it get into power. 11,000 people have already signed: add your name here.

Protect the Wild argues that the Hunting Act needs completely scrapping and replaced with a robust new law that truly protects mammals from hunting with dogs. Our Hunting of Mammals Bill would provide a comprehensive ban on all forms of hunting with hounds, with no exemptions or loopholes that can be exploited by hunts. It would provide clarity and simplicity, making it easier for the police and the courts to prosecute those who break the law. Sign our petition, calling for a proper ban on all hunting with hounds. A massive 110,000 people have already signed. You can add your name here.