Rachel Evans,

Director of Countryside Alliance Wales

IT was disappointing to read Ruth Jones MP’s latest column in which she used up line after line to discuss hunting, rather than providing an update for the people of Newport West about her work in Westminster.

That people in the countryside lay trails for hounds to follow hardly seems to be an issue I imagine many of her constituents care about, especially in the context of the cost-of-living crisis.

On Boxing Day and for New Year’s Day celebrations across Wales, tens of thousands of people cheered on their local packs at trail hunt meets, all while supporting local businesses.

Astonishingly however, Ms Jones talks of their ‘dreadful presence’, which can only be considered an attack on the rural people of Wales.

Hunting supports jobs and the rural economy and those who work in hunt service care passionately about the animals in their care.

That Ms Jones refuses to accept that reality is one thing, but her appalling comments do remind us why Labour have been struggling to make any headway electorally in the countryside.

Support for lawful trail hunting remains incredibly strong. Why on earth would she or her party pledge to waste even more legislative time on it? Despite her claims about illegal hunting, the fact is that only a tiny proportion of convictions have involve registered hunts, the very people she attacks in her column.

The last Labour government learned how damaging a battle over hunting can be and there is no less determination to oppose prejudiced and unjustified restrictions now than there was then. Labour is drawing battle lines in the countryside when it should be trying to unite the country.