I make no apologies for returning to the subject of foxhunting. Demonstrators outside South Thanet Conservative offices were surprised to find them empty and unclear whether the local Conservative campaign is still being run from there - I wonder if anybody can clear this up?
I am bemused why the Conservatives seek to make this an issue in the election. The vast majority of people oppose foxhunting by tearing animals to pieces. Shooting them is different but chasing to exhaustion is not an effective or efficient method of pest control. It is an histoircal anomaly but one which David Cameron sees as a priority for Parliamentary time. It is hard to argue there is a desperate need for change if one of the changes you prioritise is the return of foxhunting. Of course if a vocal minority of your friends and family see it as akey issue then that would explain this disproportionate choice, and that is the case for a Shadow cabinet packed with people who have hunted and whose families see it as their traditional right.
Locally this is not an issue in North Thanet where Roger Gale's views opposing foxhunting are clear, honourable and consistent. I have commented for over a year now that Laura Sandys struggles to give a clear view and to answer questions on policy. Typically on foxhunting she refuses to provide a clear view of what her views are, as last week's Isle of Thanet Gazette reported. Foxhunting is a pretty simple issue to make your mind up on. If Laura is unable to come to a view on this how will she be able to represent the South Thanet electorate on more complex issues? It is becoming increasingly clear why in June 2006 the safe Conservative seat of Folkestone and Hythe did not select her. Laura was rated top of the applicants on paper, but as soon as it came to talking to 300 Conservative members and thinking for herself on her feet she was the first candidate eliminated.
Today's Independent reports that hunting activists are primed ready to support Conservative candidates....
A letter from one Tory candidate, while thanking the huntsmen and women for their support, pleaded with them not to invade his constituency like the cavalry, "cantering into town in pink chinos and Barbours
The East Kent Hunt, operating south of Canterbury, urged its supporters to "do everything in their power" to help the Conservative candidate in Dover, Charlie Elphicke, unseat the Labour MP, Gwyn Prosser, who has a 4,941 majority to defend."
It also notes Steve Ladyman has been targeted for his anti-foxhunting position representing the vast majority of his constituents.
The questions people need to know the answers to are...
1. Have the hunt supporters written to Laura Sandys?
2. Does she want them to come and work for her in the election campaign?
3. Foxhunting with hounds - is she for or against it?
From previous experience Laura Sandys will continue to treat the people of Thanet as if they were mushrooms and keep them in the dark.