Hunt Ban Bill running out of steam: drop it now, urge Scots Tories
Press release issued by the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, 2 November 1999
Scottish Tory rural affairs spokesman Alex Johnstone today called on the Labour-SNP anti-hunt pack to face up to the reality that their ill-considered Bill to ban foxhunting has run out of steam - and should now be withdrawn unceremoniously. Mr Johnstone said:
'It's been clear for some time that this Bill was in trouble, and more so when its instigator, Lord Mike Watson, was reported to the Standards Committee for failing to declare help in drafting it from the Campaign Against Hunting with Dogs.
'Now faced with the strong possibility that the Labour MSP will be prevented from taking any further part in his Bill's progress, we see co-sponsor Tricia Marwick falling over herself in her haste to drop her involvement like the proverbial hot potato.
'Phrases like "rats deserting the sinking ship" spring to mind. But Miss Marwick is only living up to her newly acquired title of 'Politician to Watch'. Mike Watson for one will be wishing today that he'd watched her a lot more closely before signing her up as his seconder.
'The real wriggling here is not down to Tricia Marwick at all, when you think about it. It's Alex Salmond himself who is pulling his strings. She has obviously been told in no uncertain terms to distance herself by the SNP leader who has finally recognised his party's involvement in this issue to be a serious vote loser. So much for SNP principle, however misguided!
'With Lord Watson knocked out, Miss Marwick squealing in ignominious retreat, and a Scottish Executive questioning the wisdom of devoting scarce parliamentary time to such a Bill in the first term when there is so much important business to be dealt with, it is surely now time to say "Drop this damaging and unpopular Bill now!" '