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York Tories ‘fox hunting’ social to go ahead despite Tory Party condemnation

The social was originally cancelled in 2013 before it returned in 2019

The York Conservative Society's "fox hunting" social will be going ahead this year despite criticism from YUSU, committee members, and the actual Conservative Party.

The fox hunting social is a bar crawl event where committee members dress as "foxes" and non-committee members dress in traditional tweed-dress representing the "hunters."

Last year the social bar crawl began on campus at D-Bar, where the "hunters" decided who their "field master" was, after which the "foxes" were given a 30 minute head start to town before the "hunters" attempted to catch them.

The social is being held with recently deceased honorary York Tories' president Roger Scruton, a great lover of legal fox hunting, "in mind," Nouse reports.

The York Conservatives said: "The party does not endorse York Tories Fox Hunting Social, nor the students that take part in it.

"This does not represent our young Conservatives Movement, the York Tories are not affiliated to the Conservative Party."

"The event does not mean the society takes a stance on fox hunting," a York Tories spokesperson told Nouse. "It is simply a vehicle for providing a theme for a chase bar crawl, allowing our members to decide their own opinion on fox hunting."

A committee member told Nouse the fox hunting social created "a false negative stereotypical image of Young Conservatives" that will not "help attract new members, especially women who are statistically more against fox hunting."

Last year's event page for "York Tories Fox-Hunting Social: Grand Return" described how the "grand tradition was a staple of the York Tories calendar for many years before it's controversial fall from grace" and the decision for its return is an "embrace of York Tories' traditions, as any good conservative should, and bring her back."

The return of the social came nearly six years since it was originally cancelled in November 2013 amidst claims of sexism and accusatory threats.

Previously, female members were encouraged to dress as "foxes" and the male members as the "hunters", which drew heavy criticism on social media of sexism and an ignorance of animal rights.

At the time, York Tories chair Dan Hawkridge claimed threats came from feminist and vegetarian societies which allegedly threatened "spraying people on the social with red paint, lemon juice, water pistols with food dye, deodorant and chloroform."

Current 2019/20 YUSU Environment and Ethics Officer, Merry Dickinson, told Nouse she is "glad" the fox hunting social has "removed previous misogynistic elements of having women as animals hunted" but she could not "imagine why they would want to hold a social based upon the concept unless it was in some way indicative of their politics and beliefs."

In 2016 York Tories faced criticism in national press after the launch of their badger culling-themed social where committee members dressed as "badgers" and non-members dressed as "shooters."

The social's date has not yet been confirmed.

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