Oh my, they actually did it.
Last Night, the Speaker of the Commons, Michael Martin, invoked the (1949)
For those of you, gentle readers, who don’t really have any idea what the next British civil war will be about, remember the Disney film “Cap & Capper”: In a nutshell, people who favour a ban on foxhunting want Cap & Capper to stay friends, those against hold that their friendship is an aberration of nature, the work of screenplay writers on drugs, or both.
Of course, in real life, things are a bit more tricky than that, but – while I don’t fancy any kind of hunting – I never really understood the British obsession with foxhunting. Nonetheless, while working in Westminster, I was able to find out that there is hardly any other issue that divides the UK’s population as sharply as hunting with dogs. While most people in politics did not really seem to care about the issue themselves, they obviously cared about their respective constituencies.
Sure, one can rationalise this – it’s a problem that has something to do with the urban-rural cleavage, which translates into a conservative-progressive cleavage, which also somewhat translates into a Conservative-Labour cleavage. It has to do with the still existent – slightly anachronistic – British obsession with “class” as a political category, and of course, it has to do with the abilities of professional single issue campaigners to dominate the political discourse – these people certainly know how to stage postcard campaigns.
I guess this obsession for Cap & Capper is hard to understand for anyone not British – a bit like no one from the outside can really get the emotional way so many Americans talk about personal use of fireams, or how foreigners will have a hard time to understand seemingly rational Germans bizarre behavior when it comes to discussing general speed limits on the Autobahn.
There have been a handful of votes on this issue in recent Parliamentary history – the Guardian has a nice timeline – but so far opposition by the House of Lords and Government- mediated compromises have prevented an outright ban. But this time, assuming there won’t be a constitutional crisis, it is probably for real.
So now that foxhunting will be banned in early 2005, the real question of the day is – what will become the next British national obsession?