the Disillusioned kid: The Peasants Are Revolting!
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Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Peasants Are Revolting!

The recent controversy over the banning of fox-hunting has attracted considerable media attention and seen unprecedented levels of activism in a country usually famed for its political apathy. Nonetheless I for one am glad to see hunting banned and its supporters getting a good kicking. (I'm not trying to win a popularity contest here.) We are merely seeing the latest salvo in the class war and for once it is they, not us, who are on the defensive.

George Monbiot had an article in the Guardian last week in which he demonstrated the importance of class to the fox-hunting debate. In this he concluded,
As an animal welfare issue, fox hunting comes in at about number 155. It probably ranks below the last of the great working class bloodsports, coarse fishing. It?s insignificant beside intensive pig farming, chicken keeping or even the rearing of pheasants for driven shoots. But as a class issue, it ranks behind private schooling at number two. This isn?t about animal welfare. It?s about human welfare. By taking on the hunt, our MPs are taking on those who ran the country for 800 years, and still run the countryside today. This class war began with the Norman conquest. It still needs to be fought.
This was written prior to the "invasion" of the Commons (a much less serious issue, as one letter-writer in the Guardian commented, than the invasion of Iraq which that institution endorsed), but that incident only demonstrated the accuracy of his assessment.

The Belfast Telegraph provides an incisive examination of those involved in the invasion and their backgrounds:
Luke Tomlinson, 27, one of the eight, is a childhood friend of princes William and Harry, attended the same school, Eton, and is favoured by Prince Charles. The other protesters are believed to be: Robert Thame, a polo player; Nick Wood, a former royal chef; John Holliday, a bloodstock agent from Ledbury, Herefordshire; David Redvers, a stud owner from Hartpury, Gloucestershire; Andrew Elliot, a horse auctioneer from the Ledbury area; Richard Wakeham, a point-to-point jockey from Yorkshire; and Otis Ferry [son of rock star Bryan Ferry].

Mr Thame, 33, is a professional polo player and the fourth main member of the Highgrove polo team alongside the three princes.
Hardly a representative sample of the wider society pro-hunting groups claim to represent. Polly Toynbee's description of them as "young toff yobs" seems a fair description.

There is also another concern, although one which I think is more diffuse. Red Action have warned for sometime of a "resevoir of reaction" which could be tapped by Fascists and form the basis of a large and important constituency. The Countryside Alliance are a particularly organised element of this resevoir and the BNP were present at the 2002 Liberty and Livelihood demonstration distributing copies of 'The Countrysider'. Fascism took different forms in every country it achieves power, Germany and Italy were very different political systems, and it has long been my opinion that if it were to amount to anything in this country its leaders would wear tweed hats, waxed jackets, wellingtons and drive Land Rovers.

Perhaps Fascism is the wrong term (the objective political conditions are very different to those in 1930s Italy or Germany). Perhaps I'm getting carried away. Nonetheless the emergence of a powerful, potentially effective socially reactionary movement should concern all of us who consider ourselves progressive. Make no mistake: They are the enemy.

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