Who says the Countryside Alliance are not a Tory front organisation ?

Whenever I suggest that the Countryside Alliance are just Tories supporters, a front, by which Tories get headlines outside of politics but actually secretly campaigning for the Tories, it is denied. The denial usually consists of naming about three non Tory MP's who are members.

However, aside from the well know CSA support in Taunton, which last the Lib Dems the seat in 2001 (before it was regained in 2005), the CSA do not admit openly the level of support they give to the Tories.

So it was interesting to read on PoliticalBetting.com two accounts from readers of that website which explain the level of support the CSA give the Tories.

It’s Rendel - not Rendell.
The hunting debate was going on since 1993 when Rendel was elected MP and his views are the matter were very widely made known (indeed his views on the matter were also publicised when he was Liberal and then LibDem candidate in 1987 and 1992). So people who felt strongly on that matter would have already been voting Conservative anyway. The issue probably gave Rendel more votes in the towns where there tends to be many people who were in favour of the ban on hunting with hounds.
The widespread use of the volunteers from the Countryside Alliance probably did have an impact in 2005, as many of them did canvassing and delivering of leaflets in streets which had previously been left untouched by the Conservatives.
Although the three results on Thursday were for Thatcham town council, the seats are based on the same wards as the LA elections and covered two large wards - a very large swathe of the second largest town in the constituency.
One thing you can’t knock Rendel for is his determination. He took over as the Liberal PPC in 1984 when, the previous year, the Tories had a majority of 13,038. So he is a fighter, even when the odds look to most people as insuperable. Which is why he did not follow up the opportunity to become a peer or an MEP and why he was overwhelmingly re-elected PPC by Newbury LibDems.

by Paul Walter January 11th, 2008 at 5:26 pm
The hunting fraternity certainly made themselves very useful to the Tories in my neck of the woods in 2005 and may have made the difference in turning a reasonable Labour majority into a narrow tory win.

This thread where the significance of the Counryside Alliance people in electioneering has certainly got me thinking and perhaps was the reason why the Tories won the Assembly seat here in 2007 by a much larger than expected majority, one which certainly shocked most Labour activists here.
by valleyboy January 11th, 2008 at 5:50 pm

The Tories constantly try do deny they receive large scale "political" support from the CSA, and instead receive help in areas where there are anti fox hunting MP's to oppose.

The Problem is, and what makes the CSA a bunch of hypocrites (see the comments to read why) is that the CSA don't go and help Labour or Lib Dems who support foxhunting against anti foxhunting Tories and, what further shows the CSA up most is that they go and help Tories campaign against Lib Dems (and presumably Labour MP's too) who were not opposed to fox hunting.

If the CSA is a genuine campaigning organisation campaigning on issues like fox hunting and farming, why would they choose to oppose MP's who also support their aims ? The only reasons for doing this is if you are actually a more or an adjunct to a political party rather than a campaigning pressure group. So when Iain Dale asks you to vote for the CSA as campaigning organisation of the year, remember, he is actually asking you to vote for a political organisation, not a pressure group.


Iain Dale said...

Sorry, but I am unaware we have ever denied being helped by the CSA. I certainly was and never hid the fact. Fat lot of good it did me!

Anonymous said...

If they are truly independent who don;t you hear about them going to help pro hunt Liberals or labour MP's ?

Norfolk Blogger said...

And Iain that shows the utter hypocrisy of the CSA. they came to help you in a seat where the Lib Dem MP was not any hunting ? Does that smack of complete hypocrisy ? It shows that they are less concerned with "issues" and more concerned with being a front for the Tories.

James Cleverly said...


It is not hypocrisy at all. Many members of the CSA feel that the best way to chsnge the hunting law is by returning a Conservative government and are working to that end.

Nothing hidden and no hypocricy.

Anonymous said...

The Liberal Democrats are a front for the Quakers, as are the Greens.

We could go on like this forever.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Give me some evidence that the Quakers ornganise support for the Lib Dems. Give me evidence that the Quakers help Lib Dems to campaign against other quakers, and then you would have a genuine comparison.

James - it is hypocritical to campaign against the people who stand up for your views. If it is about the issues then the CSA might have a legitimacy, but when their campaigning is party political and not about the issues, it is hypocritical.

Lakelander said...

Are we talking about the same Countryside Alliance here?

As in, the one which has as its President, Baroness Mallalieu QC, as Chairman, Kate Hoey MP and includes on its board of directors, the former MP Baroness Golding?

Erm....aren't they all members of the Labour Party?

Norfolk Blogger said...

Exactly, they are contituted to be a pressure group with no one party affiliation, but on the ground they are the opposite.

Adam Johns said...

Simon Hart is Tory candidate for Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South next time around.

The Trade Unions back Labour, the National Guild of Dribbling Indecisive People back the LibDems, the Countryside Alliance back the Conservatives (and Kate Hoey). It isn't illegal, it isn't immoral and it makes perfect sense to support the party with appropriate policies to your pressure group's aims, its the best chance you have of having your policies enacted.

So your point is, caller?

Lakelander said...

A "pressure group" that has a sufficiently wide appeal that it has a third more members than the Liberal Democrats.

Actually, you would find that many of the policies that it supports on rural matters are pretty close to LibDem policy.

and thanks for showing my earlier response....I didn't think you would!

tim-bonner said...


You actually reference a very good example of the way hunt support for candidates is not party based.

Ballard was beaten in Taunton in 2001 because she seconded the PMB to ban hunting and roused the troops off Exmoor.

In their usual practical way the Lib Dems then chose a pro-hunting candidate Jeremy Browne who won with no campaign against him in support of Flook. In fact I know hunting people who worked for Browne.

Where Liberal and Labour MPs or candidates support repeal of the Hunting Act there will be no organised campaign. Where they do not, and the seat is marginal, there will be.

Ask Roger Williams or Lembit Opik, for instance, whether any hunting people are campaigning against them.

Rendel was a prominent supporter of the Hunting Act, in a marginal seat with a candidate who supports scrapping it. Hunting people didn't have to be brain surgeons to work out what to do.

Of course there is the additional point that only the Conservative's are committed to a free vote on repeal. It is hardly surprising that most hunting people would therefore like to see a Conservative Government. Nick Clegg could easily do something about that and match Cameron's pledge but I somehow think that the Lib Dems are far too illiberal for that to happen.

BTW don't know what the 'CSA' is - thought it was a failed father bashing operation. The Countryside Alliance is not involved in election campaigning. An organisation called Vote OK runs that.


Norfolk Blogger said...

Tim, so why campaign against Norman Lamb in North Norfolk ? Iain Dale says he received CA help there but Norman Lamb did not support the hunting act, unless I am misinformed.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Having checked my facts, I am right, Norman Lamb opposed the Hunting Bill. So isn't it an absolute hypocrisy to say the CA campaign to help all parties when an enti "ban" MP's is campaigned against by the CA ?


Tim said...


First the Alliance didn't and doesn't campaign for or against anyone in elections. Vote OK http://www.vote-ok.co.uk/ does and their criteria for supporting any candidate are clear in the FAQ section.

Second the Alliance and the hunting world are highly politicised. I can think of staff and key activists who have been or are involved with the Conservative Party, but also with the Lib Dems, Plaid, Ulster Unionists and of course our links to Labour have been discussed.

Third whilst there were no organised campaigns against MPs who opposed repeal in 2001 and there will be none against any who support repeal at the next election the fact that the Tories are the only party committed to repeal is bound to have an impact on the way some individuals choose to campaign.

There is a valid argument (much used by Tory candidates in seats where the incumbent is pro-hunting) that the personal view of the MP doesn't matter if there isn't going to be a chance to have a vote. For that reason however much Widdecombe and the couple of other Conservative antis upset hunting people no-one was campaigning against them. As suggested above there is a simple solution to this which is for Clegg to commit to a free vote.


foxinparliament said...

It has got to the point where it’s hard to know who controls the Conservative Party, David Cameron or the hunting lobby. They are so closely linked with each other that democracy is constantly being harmed. A pressure group for hunting, which the Countryside Alliance pretends it is not, is now determining Tory Party policy.

It is worth pointing out that the Countryside Alliance started out as the British Field Sports Society, which had one purpose to promote all forms of bloodsport. Rather like the Countryside Alliance today who just pretend to care about other issues.

When the Countryside Alliance speaks it is not with the support of rural people, not that you would know. The Countryside Alliance and the Conservative Party go to great lengths to deny decent rural people a voice over the hunting issue. 72% of rural people do not want hunting to return yet any mention of rural people is always done so with the implied tone and information that they support hunting.

This also fits in well in how the Conservatives are forever mentioning democracy, for it seems democracy is only for them to decide. Whenever the Tories mention rural issues it always includes hunting being a real issue facing rural people. Yet forgets to ask anyone who lives in the countryside
that is against hunting for their view.

75% of the population overall want the hunting ban to stay and that figure also includes 62% of Conservative Party supporters. But do not look to Cameron to show concern for he will scrap the hunting ban the first chance he gets. He may call it a free vote but it amounts to the same thing.

It has become very clear that since 2004 the Tories have relied on hunt supporters to do their campaigning for them in many areas. Now most of their target seats in the country are being campaigned in by those associated with hunting and not local politics.

However the public will be un-aware of whom they are, because they campaign as Conservative activist not pro hunt campaigners. They do not tell the people when they are leafleting or canvassing on the door their real intentions.

But then hardly a surprise as many decent members of the public would not want them on their door.
So rather then being honest about who they are they continue to deceive the public. The Countryside Alliance must have been involved in the setting up of this umbrella group on the pretence of it being separate. It’s called Vote OK http://www.vote-ok.co.uk/

Vote OK’s only purpose is to get Conservatives elected, regardless of who the opponent is. All that matters is that the winner in the election has a blue rosette.

The Countryside Alliance is indeed a front for the Conservative Party and it gives an indication to just how obsessed the Tory leadership is on the issue. Forget homes, jobs, unemployment and anything else. The Tory Party sees Britain as being a land of Cricket, golf courses and with the joy of killing for fun as a must.

Yet when it comes to democracy then that is for them to dictate and for others to follow…..

Fox in Parliament