Oh my, they finally did it – again.
The British Parliament yesterday night voted in favour of an outright ban of foxhunting, or hunting with dogs. For those of you, my gentle readers, who don’t really have any idea what this is about, remember the Disney film “Cap & Capper”: In a nutshell, people who favour a ban on foxhunting want Cap & Capper to stay friends, those against hold that their friendship is an aberration of nature, the work of a screenplay writer on drugs, or both.
Of course, in real life, things are a bit more tricky than that, but – while I don’t fancy any kind of hunting – I never really understood the British obsession with foxhunting. Nonetheless, while working in Westminster, I was able to find out that there is hardly any other issue that divides the UK’s population as sharply as hunting with dogs.
Sure, one can rationalise this – it’s a problem that has something to do with the urban-rural cleavage, which translates into a conservative-progressive cleavage, which also somewhat translates into a Conservative-Labour cleavage. It has to do with the slightly anachronistic British obsession with “class” as a political category, and of course, it has to do with the abilities of professional single issue campaigners to dominate the political discourse – these people certainly know how to stage a postcard campaign.
I guess this kind of obsession for Gap & Capper is hard to understand for anyone not British – a bit like no one from the outside can really get the emotional way so many Americans talk about personal use of fireams, or how foreigners will have a hard time to understand seemingly rational Germans bizarre behavior when it comes to discussing general speed limits on the autobahn…
There have been a handful of votes on this issue in recent Parliamentary history – the Guardian has a nice timeline – but so far opposition by the House of Lords and government mediated compromises have prevented an outright ban of this, well, activity. But this time, it looks as though the Parliament Act will be invoked to sign the Commons bill into law even if the proposed ban is voted down in the Lords.
So now that Foxhunting could – really – be banned by 2005, the real question of the day is – what will become the next British national obsession?