05/05/2017 07:21 BST | Updated 05/05/2017 07:22 BST

Most Significant Election Ever For Hunting Act

As soon as Theresa May stepped out onto Downing Street, and announced that the country would go to the polls on June 8th, it was battle stations not just for political parties, but for organisations across the country.

A general election is a unique opportunity for organisations like the League to demonstrate just how strongly the British public feel about animals. And they are, of course, also a chance for the public to decide just what kind of country they wish to see over the next five years.

So the stakes are high for every election.

But it's no exaggeration to say that this is the most significant election ever for the Hunting Act. For the first time since the Hunting Act was passed in 2004, there is the serious possibility of an election returning a pro-hunt majority in Parliament.

In many ways, this is a slightly strange situation to be facing. In this age of Brexit, there is a great deal of discussion about Parliament and the Government representing the will of the people. While 52% of British people voted to leave the EU, according to the latest Ipsos-Mori data 84% of people want the ban on hunting foxes to stay. In addition, 88% support the ban on deer-hunting, and 91% back the ban on hunting hares. Support for the ban is as high in rural areas as it is in urban areas.

Ipsos-Mori projections indicate there is a clear majority in favour of the ban in every constituency in England and Wales, and that, by a margin of more than 7 to 1 over those who want the ban repealed, voters view more favourably those candidates who support the ban.

What's more, this is not party political issue.

72% of Conservative voters support the ban on hunting, along with 87% of Liberal Democrat voters and 90% of Labour voters.

The reason for its popularity should be clear. What the Hunting Act bans - chasing wild mammals with packs of dogs - is barbaric. The British public realise that this is an activity that belongs in the past. Do we as a nation really want to see the return of the Waterloo Cup, with spectators cheering on the brutal chase and killing of a hare by a greyhound? The return of the legal and cruel chasing for miles of our majestic stags? The return of the legal and unjustifiable killing of foxes and fox cubs for sport? I don't believe so. I believe Britain is a better place than that.

And I would hope that all party leaders agree. That is why the League is calling on them not only to rule out any repeal, weakening or substitution of the Hunting Act - but also to support its strengthening and enforcement. We are not alone in this. IFAW, Save Me, and the RPSCA are joining us, and so have luminaries like Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Bill Oddie, and Chris Packham.

A huge amount of the election coverage so far has centred on Brexit. The task facing the parties will be how to reconcile the 52% who voted to leave and the 48% who voted to remain - I don't envy them that task. But this election is also a chance for the parties to provide a positive affirmation of what Britain stands for. The vast majority of the British public do not want to see the Hunting Act repealed. Britain is better than a return to cruelty.

That is why the League, and other organisations have come together, asking party leaders to send a clear, unambiguous message that cruelty to animals in the name of sport should be consigned to history. And if they don't listen to us, they should at least listen to the 84% of British public who support the ban on hunting.