Since the news broke that former hunt master Jonathon Seed was standing as a candidate for the role of Police Crime Commissioner in Wiltshire, animal activists across the country, ourselves included, have been campaigning against it and calling for a vote of no confidence in Mr Seed.
The role of PCC is known as one that has influence over the policing of each area- wildlife crime included. It has therefore been shocking that a man with such a fruitful history of fox hunting was ever allowed to stand in the first place.
Over the weekend it was announced that Jonathon Seed had withdrawn and been barred from the election, but not for the wildlife reasons we had hoped for, instead for a historical drink driving conviction that he apparently failed to declare. Either way it’s been welcomed news.
There is slight confusion around this conviction as Mr Seed has stood by his statement that he did declare the conviction to the Conservative Party. ‘West Country Bylines’ reported on the matter over the weekend and stated;
“An ITV reporter was asking Seed about former convictions eight days ago, prior to the vote, so why is the story breaking after the vote took place? Was this an attempt by Wiltshire Conservatives or even central Conservatives to minimise disruption to their chances in the other Wiltshire elections? If ITV were approaching Seed days before the election, he would no doubt have spoken to his local Conservative party and agent to seek advice.”
It looks like both Seed and the Conservative Party could be in a sticky situation. Other candidates from the election have condemned Seed for wrecking the election in which they dedicated a lot of time and money into. They have also gone on to suggest that it's clear there has been some element of cover-up from the Conservative Party to limit the negative impact on votes.
We know that this isn’t the first rule Seed has broken in this election. Seed previously denied being a member of ‘This is Hunting UK’ –a pro-hunt organisation who act as a promotional tool in the background of elections and ‘ensure pro-hunt candidates are placed into positions of power to influence policing and enable traditional hunting to continue through backdoor means’. Leaked minutes from ‘This is Hunting UK’ in 2018 revealed that Mr Seed is in fact regional coordinator; slightly more involved than your regular ‘member’.
As a result of Seed subsequently winning the Wiltshire seat which we all expected- the PCC Election will now need to be rerun, at the estimated cost of more than £1m. It has been rumoured that this will be footed by taxpayers, much to the horror of the public and the remaining candidates standing for the Wiltshire seat. There is a shared view against this and firm belief that the Conservative Party should be the ones to foot the bill- as it was not only their error, but potentially their combined suppression.