So, it turns out that the SNP weren’t that bothered about the plight of foxes after all. Back in July, you might remember, David Cameron was forced to backtrack on his plan for a parliamentary vote on relaxing the hunting ban, after the SNP decided to vote against any changes. This, of course, came after Nicola Sturgeon wrote in February:
‘the SNP have a long-standing position of not voting on matters that purely affect England — such as fox hunting south of the border, for example — and we stand by that.’
But now we hear that just a month after blocking Cameron’s proposed changes, the SNP received a £10,000 donation from the ‘Political Animal Lobby’, an animal rights – and naturally anti-hunting – group, who have given vast amounts to the Labour Party in the past. So what was the real reason behind the SNP’s decision to renege on their not-voting-on-hunting statement? An overwhelming desire to annoy Cameron by forcing him to U-turn? A sudden fit of morals, believing that relaxing the ban would increase the suffering of foxes? Or, perhaps, the thought of ten grand winging its way to the party coffers?
It could have been a combination of any of these factors, although Sturgeon herself admitted that it was ‘less to do with fox hunting’, and more to making David Cameron ‘respect’ the SNP. I suppose the lure of £10k, combined with the chance to put the Tories in their place, is a pretty tough one to resist.
But the thing is, whether or not the donation had anything to do with the SNP’s decision, the whole hunting debate has been little more than a pack of lies from the very beginning.
Lies from Labour that it was about animal welfare, when as a number of then-Labour MPs have since admitted, it was far more about class war than anything else, and once Blair had got involved in the mess, he couldn’t find a way out. (As he wrote in his autobiography ‘I made a fatal mistake by not shutting the issue down at the outset…. By the end of it, I felt like the damn fox.’)
And lies from the SNP; they reneged on their promise not to vote on English only issues – with fox hunting then deemed worthy of particular mention. And alright, it’s not a lie exactly, but I don’t believe that any MP – newcomer or not – doesn’t know how easy it is to lobby politicians electronically. To claim that 600 emails a week constitutes ‘an overwhelming demand from people in England’ – which Sturgeon used as one of the reasons for changing her mind – is certainly disingenuous.
At least, I suppose, Nicola Sturgeon never tried to claim that the SNP U-turn over the summer had much to do with animal welfare. But she certainly didn’t tell the truth about what it might do to the SNP piggybank.