By a Newsnet.scot Reporter
A leading academic has attacked the SNP decision to vote to maintain a ban on foxhunting in England and Wales, describing the move as “posturing” that is “designed to irritate”.
Professor Adam Tomkins, who advises Scotland’s sole Conservative MP and Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell, has urged supporters of the Conservative Government to ignore the nationalists.
In a tweet following confirmation that the 56 SNP MPs are to join opponents of foxhunting in a Westminster vote, the pro-Union academic tweeted:
“More posturing from the SNP: last week EVEL, this week foxes. It’s just tactics, designed to irritate. Ignore them and don’t rise to it.”
The SNP position has excited some of the party’s social media critics, who suggest that the party is in a dilemma whichever way it votes, because of its convention of not voting on English and Welsh issues at Westminster.
The voting decision was announced by the SNP’s Westminster group leader, MP Angus Robertson late on Monday. Explaining his party’s decision to oppose the re-introduction in England and Wales of a pursuit many argue is inhumane, Robertson said the ban should be maintained while the Scottish parliament considers strengthening the law in Scotland.
Traditional fox hunting with dogs is currently illegal across the whole of Britain. In England and Wales, farmers and landowners are allowed to use two dogs to pursue and shoot a fox. In Scotland however an unlimited number of dogs can be used.
Mr Robertson said:
“We totally oppose fox hunting, and when there are moves in the Scottish Parliament to review whether the existing Scottish ban is strong enough, it is in the Scottish interest to maintain the existing ban in England and Wales for Holyrood to consider.”
In what some will see as a retaliatory move after non-Scottish based MPs blocked SNP-led amendments to the Scotland Bill, the SNP MP added:
“We are in a situation where the Tory government are refusing to agree to any amendments to improve the Scotland Bill – which are supported by 58 of Scotland’s 59 MPs – and imposing English Votes for English Laws to make Scotland’s representation at Westminster second class.
“In these circumstances, it is right and proper that we assert the Scottish interest on fox hunting by voting with Labour against the Tories’ proposals to relax the ban.”
The decision by the SNP is expected to anger many on the Conservative benches given that without Scottish Nationalist support the move to end the ban was expected to succeed. The Conservative Government had called on SNP MPs to abstain, arguing that the issue did not affect Scottish constituencies.
The vote could inflict the first major defeat on David Cameron’s Government since May’s general election.