Richard North, 08/05/2005  

Never start a class war, say I. You may lose it. Just look at Peter Bradley who has just lost The Wrekin, a previously reasonably safe Labour seat, despite making sure that 25 per cent of the vote was going to come by post.

Peter Bradley, as our readers will recall, was the man who wrote an article in the Sunday Telegraph last autumn, in which he gloated about the fact that those who had challenged the might of the government to do whatever it likes (i.e. people who wanted to go on hunting) had finally been subdued by, as he did not point out, very dubious constitutional means.

How are the mighty fallen. Hunting went on throughout the season and will be back, though keeping within the law probably means a good deal more suffering for foxes. But then, as Mr Bradley wrote at the time, animal welfare did not come into it.

And where is Mr Bradley? No longer in Parliament. His was one of the seats targeted by Vote-OK, led by Charles Mann, formerly of the Countryside Alliance.

Mr Mann and his shock troops ran well organized campaigns in a number of constituencies with anti-hunting campaigns. They reckon they helped to take 29 of the 47 seats lost by Labour and left another 21 MPs with tiny majorities, to be taken next time.

For Mr Mann and his merry men and women are not intending to give up. The shock troops have had little previous experience in politics. They took six weeks to organize their campaigns but they believed in what they were doing and were determined to succeed.

It also helped that on this particular issue the Conservative Party was unambiguous. I wonder whether a few lessons could be learnt here for the future.

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