Love us or hate us, you can’t argue that the Hunt Saboteurs Association has ever shied away from what we do. We sabotaged hunting when it was legal, and we’ve continued to sabotage hunting since it became illegal in 2005.
For sixty-five years the hunter’s organisation – the British Field Sports Society – also did what it said on the tin. From their formation in 1932, the wealthy and influential BFSS stamped on the slightest attempt to improve the welfare of hunted stags, otters, foxes, and hares.
The BFSS were also very active against hunt sabs: they organised gangs of paid thugs to attack us and mounted one of the most comprehensive intelligence-gathering operations ever seen in this country.
But then, in July 1997, something bizarre happened. The BFSS disappeared overnight and was replaced by a ‘new’ organisation: the fluffy-sounding Countryside Alliance. Its name and logo suggested an organisation campaigning across a spectrum of rural issues.
Of course, the ‘Countryside Alliance’ green washing was just a cynical response to the 1997 Labour election victory and the looming threat of a hunt ban. In a desperate attempt to widen its support, the BFSS/CA tried to portray such a ban as a general attack on rural life.
However, those suffering from real rural issues – poverty, poor infrastructure, lack of affordable housing – quickly learnt that the CA offers them nothing. A cursory look at their current board explains why:
- President: Baroness Mallalieu, follower of the Devon & Somerset Staghounds
- Chairman: Nick Herbert, former huntsman of the Newmarket Beagles and BFSS Press Officer
- Chief Executive: Tim Bonner, former huntsman of the Wye College Beagles
- Board member: Karen Silcock, secretary of the Fitzwilliam Hunt
- Board member: Paul Dunn, former master of High Peak Harriers
- Board member: Andrew Ogg, self-described “hunting fanatic”
So, what’s in name? Quite a lot.
It turns out that the very term ‘Countryside Alliance’ is a deception – or smokescreen – to disguise the true nature of this nasty, single-issue group.