Militant pro-hunting groups are planning to cause chaos across Britain with a campaign of direct action that will disrupt railways and telecommunications, and target specific MPs and anti-hunting lobbyists.
In the wake of last week’s total ban on foxhunting, pro-hunt militants are now set to launch a series of hardline actions in a last-ditch bid to highlight their cause. After years of preaching moderation, the Countryside Alliance has now openly admitted that it cannot control its more extremist supporters. ‘We have been warning the Government for years that if they behave dishonourably it does not matter what we say. Things will happen that none of us approve of,’ said the CA’s new chief executive, Simon Hart.
Plans discussed by militants have included blockading motorways and stopping traffic on bridges in London in a bid to bring the capital’s traffic system to a halt. Sabotage to reservoirs in order to disrupt the water supply to major cities has also been raised as well as damage to phone lines and speed cameras. Other actions being considered include using muckspreaders to spray manure in town centres which could cause serious health risks, especially to young children, The Observer can reveal.
The campaign is to be spearheaded by the breakaway Real Countryside Alliance, a direct action group disavowed by the CA. Edward Duke, a Yorkshire businessman with close links to the Real CA, said the group would target backbench MPs and senior figures from the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for a campaign of intimidation.
‘It will be spectacular. We will target backbench MPs, block in their cars, chant in their surgeries and heckle them wherever they go. We will target government offices, county halls and Parliament. There will be transportation blockages – we have all learnt from the French lorry drivers,’ he said.
The threats come amid calls for calm from other outspoken hunting activists. Janet George, who heads the Countryside Action Network, said that she was afraid that extremists would commit acts of violence. ‘There is quite a serious risk that a few hotheaded individuals are going to do something damn stupid. People are so angry. But I think it would be a disaster for the hunting cause if it were to happen,’ she said.
CAN, which does not condone violence, is planning its own campaigns that are also likely to include motorway blockades. It will also use its strong links with America’s powerful hunting lobby to call for a US boycott of Britain as a tourist destination. ‘I think we can get the tourist side of things a bit worried,’ she said.
Last week’s Bill, which was more strict than expected after backbench MPs forced through a series of radical amendments, is now widely expected to see hunting banned by 2005 at the latest. Many hunters have signed the so-called Hunting Declaration which swears to continue the practice.
Philosopher Roger Scruton said he would have no qualms about breaking the law if a ban came into place: ‘We would be under an obligation to disobey it. I am in favour of civil disobedience on the part of victimised minorities.’