A campaign advocating a ‘cruelty free future’ launched today, asking voters to look at the snap election through an animal welfare lens. A battle bus will make its way around the UK this week, with a fox cub taking the role of spokesperson in the Votes for Vinny campaign.
In today’s launch in London, it was announced that Vinny the fox will be standing for election. The human-sized character, based on a real rescue fox, has delivered his election manifesto. The fictional candidate will be focusing on strengthening the hunting ban and increasing animal cruelty sentences.
The campaign is being led by League Against Cruel Sports, a leading charity aiming to stop animals being persecuted for sport.
The organisation’s director of policy, Chris Luffingham, said that the campaign is about raising awareness of potential threats to the Hunting Act: “For the first time since the bill came in we are in the very real situation whereby in the next parliament, there may be a majority against that bill.”
He said that the public should use the snap election as an opportunity to ask candidates their position on fox hunting, and also on broader animal cruelty sentencing.
The Votes for Vinny website gives the public the opportunity to send an email to all candidates in their constituency, asking them where they stand on these issues.
British actor and vice president of League Against Cruel Sports Peter Egan joined the campaign launch: “We need to be represented by compassionate MPs, we don’t need to be represented by MPs that don’t care.”
Opposition to hunting for sport is at a record high across England and Wales, with a strong majority saying they would be against the re-legalisation of fox hunting. An Ipsos MORI survey shows that 84% of the public are in support of keeping the ban on fox hunting, including 82% from rural areas.
The public feeling against legalising hare hunting is even stronger, with 91% of the public against legalisation. The opposition to hunting for sport has risen steadily in the last four years.
Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates were at today’s campaign launch, where the battle bus was revealed. Ilford South’s Labour candidate, Mike Gapes, said: “I never thought we were going to be in a position where a prime minister would try and go back on the wishes of the British people.”
John Ball, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Central Ealing and Acton, was a member of League Against Cruel Sports when he was a student: “It would be absolutely appalling if we had any suggestion of moving away from the ban now.”
The Hunting Act, a law set out to ban hunting with dogs, was introduced in 2004. The law covers all mammals, with the exception of rats and rabbits in some circumstances.
Following the launch, Chris Luffingham from League of Cruel Sports said: “Do we want to live in a compassionate and caring world in the 21st century, or do we want to step backwards, into the 19th century when hunting and chasing and having wild animals ripped piece to piece is acceptable?”
The Votes for Vinny battle bus will be visiting London, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Gateshead and Edinburgh