Campaigners put the frighteners on cops

I'M not the world's greatest fan of the Countryside Alliance – they've managed to create the impression that "rural England" has a single view on a number of matters.

I'M not the world's greatest fan of the Countryside Alliance – they've managed to create the impression that "rural England" has a single view on a number of matters.

In fact the views they represent are only held by a minority of country-dwellers but because they've got big noises – and big bucks – behind them, they can get their views across.

But you have to admire their ability to put the wind up the great and the good.

They've terrified the government to such an extent that ministers will do anything they can to prevent laws banning foxhunting coming on to the statute book.


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The majority of people in this country want hunting banned. The majority of people who live in rural areas feel the same way – but the Countryside Alliance has persuaded the government otherwise and all these proposals for licencing and so forth have come out.

If the government wasn't so frightened of the Alliance, it would impose the parliament act to over-rule the unelected House of Lords and hunting would be banned by Christmas.

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But it isn't just the government that the Alliance has terrified – they've apparently given the chief constable of Suffolk the willies as well.

In his capacity as rural affairs spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, Alastair McWhirter warned that officers would struggle to cope with a widespread campaign of civil disobedience by hunt supporters.

I really don't see that as a problem – there may be a few thousand die-hard hunting fans but the vast majority of the public want nothing to do with this sport.

Are huntsmen and women really going to break the law and risk the derision of others over the right to watch dogs tear foxes limb from limb?

There may be a few hotheads now who say they'll go to prison to defend their "sport," but I really can't see anyone being daft enough to follow the threat through!

DESPITE what some people might think, I've always tried to be apolitical in this column – I'll praise or berate any party on specific issues.

Political parties representing a diverse spectrum of views are vital for democracy.

But there is a political group I'm not keen to see establish itself in this area – the British National Party.

These days they don't like being described as racist or far-right and as they try to establish themselves in the area they're emphasising other policies such as pulling out of Europe and tightening up on law and order.

But as South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo – hardly a rabid left-winger – said earlier this week: "Underneath this apparently reasonable surface some of their policies are very sinister."

One thing Suffolk should be proud of is the good inter-community relations we have in the area.

Look at groups of youngsters on the streets of Ipswich. The chances are they'll be black and white faces among them – and their parents are also likely to mix well together.

There may be tensions, but they're nothing like as bad as in some parts of the country – especially in northern England where the BNP has established a presence.

Frankly we don't need this lot to come here where they're not wanted and tell us that there's something wrong with a multi-cultural society when a lot of people are working very hard to make sure it works well.

JOHN Prescott attracted a lot of fury this week when he said hundreds of thousands of new homes would have to be built in East Anglia over the next 20 years.

It's easy to understand the desire not to lose the green spaces to more little boxes.

But the next thing we'll hear is that there aren't any homes for young people – and that wealthy Londoners are buying all cottages for second homes.

This week we've heard about plans for 1,000 new homes in Trimley. Any final decision here will be controversial – but there are two sides to the argument and some people will end up disappointed whatever happens in the end.

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