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Wednesday, 4 March, 1998, 18:23 GMT
London invaded by angry country folk
Fox hunter and hounds
Plans to ban fox and stag hunting have triggered a backlash from the countryside
The ban on beef-on-the-bone, attempts to forbid hunting, the "right to roam" controversy and plans to build more rural housing have all caused anger in the countryside.

Thousands of people from the country descended on London to voice their fears about what is happening to the countryside.

It is the culmination of a week of action which included the lighting of 5,600 beacons all over Britain on Thursday night.

Effigy of Mike Foster
Labour MP Mike Foster has become a figure of hate in the countryside
Worcester MP Mike Foster, whose private members' bill banning fox and stag hunting is unlikely to become legislation because government whips say there is not enough time to debate it, is one of the campaigners' main hate figures.

But their ire is also aimed at Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, whose rural house-building plans it opposes, and at Agriculture Minister Jack Cunningham whose handling of the beef crisis has won him few friends in the countryside.

countryside poster
Farmers, landowners and field sports supporters got together to form the Countryside Alliance which organised the protest.

Maverick Labour MP Kate Hoey, a lifelong hunting supporter, has given the demonstration her backing as have Liberal Democrats Paul Tyler and Lembit Opik and Independent MP Martin Bell, who stresses he is campaigning only on behalf of farmers.

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