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Expressihg their views

LAST month's Countryside March was the biggest civil demonstration in British History.

Some 407,000 ordinary people, fearful for their liberty and livelihood, came together in London to peacefully protest against a New Labour government that has turned its back on tolerance and Britains rural communities.

I was disappointed, though not surprised, by Mr Rammell's sneering and dismissive article on what many independent commentators have described as a remarkably inclusive, good-natured and friendly event (Commons Column, September 25).

For our MP to suggest that "instinctive Conservatives who rage and wail and don't accept the right of Labour to govern" dominated the march is patently absurd. His indifference to the genuine concerns of country folk illustrates that ignorance, intolerance and class hatred still poison the Labour movement.

I don't hunt and have no wish to do so, but I believe the proposed ban on foxhunting is a serious threat to liberty. To criminalise literally hundreds of thousands of this country's most law-abiding citizens for pursuing a sporting tradition that has been legal for centuries is totally outrageous.

I would rather Essex Police focused its limited resources on apprehending the criminals that are terrorising Harlow's neighbourhood shops than galloping across fields in pursuit of men in red coats.

Mr Rammell, when it suits his purpose, is happy to cite opinion poll evidence that most voters oppose foxhunting. What a pity his is not so keen to invoke the popular will when similar polls demand the return of capital punishment. But that's a New Labour politician for you.

However, what Mr Rammell ought to know is that we all belong to one minority or another. There are many activities that a majority-or rather a coalition of minorities- find objectionable (supporting Arsenal comes to mind), but we have come to appreciate that a liberal, tolerant and free society is dependent on such minority rights being safeguarded.

Those who fear the tyranny of the so-called majority and value a free and diverse liberal society should treat New Labour's attack on one minority as being an attack on all minorities. That is to say an attack on us all.

Fishermen of Harlow please take note you will be next.

GUY MITCHINSON, Joyners Field, Harlow.

9:40am Wednesday 16th October 2002

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