Hunting supporters have stepped up protests ahead of the Labour Party conference by staging a demo at the home of Commons leader Peter Hain.

More than 150 people blocked the lane leading to Mr Hain’s house near Neath, in south Wales for several hours.

They initially said they wanted to stop him travelling to the Labour conference in Brighton but dispersed at 1400 BST after talks on his driveway.

Mr Hain said he thought the majority of Labour voters supported a hunting ban.

The picket came ahead of a massive demonstration planned by the Countryside Alliance outside the conference venue on Tuesday.

It follows a series of protests at events attended by rural affairs minister Alun Michael in various parts of the country in the wake of the September 15 House of Commons vote to ban hunting in England and Wales.

Mr Hain, who is also Welsh secretary, was one of the 339 MPs who voted in favour.

John O’Shea, a retired factory worker from Merthyr, who got up at 0400 GMT on Saturday to join other demonstrators, said it was the working-class who hunted, not just “a gentleman in a red coat”.

He was unsatisfied with Mr Hain’s response after meeting him in his driveway.

“I will only be satisfied when there is no ban on hunting.”

‘Fringe issue’

The Tories and Liberal Democrats have also criticised Mr Hain for describing fox hunting and Iraq as “fringe issues” for the conference.

Mr Hain told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Hunting and Iraq are just fringe issues as far as conference is concerned.

“The main dominating issue is how does the country go forward, how do we give more security at work, how do we give more support to hard-working families, how do we improve childcare?”

He later said he hadn’t intended to downplay the importance of Iraq as an issue as it “most emphatically is not”.

Security measures

Tim Yeo, shadow environment secretary, told the Today programme: “What’s happening now is that the government is acting with a jackboot by forcing the legislation through.

“I support the right of everyone in this country to protest within the law.

“It’s not surprising that people that are concerned about the future of the countryside and their jobs and the contribution hunting makes are taking their protest to Brighton.”

Mr Yeo said it was “entirely legitimate” to make life difficult for the government, who he accused of running a “vendetta against parts of the countryside”.

Source: BBC News

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