'Jail Fox Hunters for five years!', screams the chief executive of the RSPCA, Gavin Grant.
I remember once being at one of those upper middle class dinner parties in a village with a double-barrelled name, like a West Indian fast bowler: Tarrant Gunville or Kingston Deverill or some such. Attending was a crusty old soldier, a Major General, I think, who had been appointed head of the RSPCA. On my asking, he explained to a hushed table that he thought they shouldn't hunt foxes.
The other guests were astounded. We had all contributed to, or helped, the RSPCA over the years, regarding it as a sort of country thing. It seemed a betrayal. For myself I have no taste for hunting but, like most people who live in the country, regard foxes as pests and don't much care what happens to them.
I think it clear that the RSPCA's hysteria about this is quasi political and that it is in breach of its charter and its obligations under the Charities Act.
Having said that, rightly or wrongly, fox hunting is illegal. Fox hunting is not a basic right like democracy or freedom to worship, for which a Robin Hood style campaign of disobedience is permissible, it is simply a pastime which our elected representatives have decided is wrong. Those who indulge in it are breaking the law, and whilst five years seems on the harsh side, they must accept the consequences of doing so.