Mandelson claims that Blair was compelled to prohibit foxhunting due to the donation.

The claim made by Lord Mandelson, a former Labour MP who now sits in the Lords, is that the 1997 manifesto commitment went beyond what the party leader at that time wanted.

According to Lord Mandelson, Tony Blair banned foxhunting in 2004 after facing pressure from an animal rights group that had made a large donation to the Labour party. This commitment to hold a free vote on hunting with dogs was included in Labour’s 1997 manifesto as a result of receiving funds from an animal welfare fund.

While Blair himself has expressed regret over the foxhunting ban, there has been ongoing debate about whether it should be repealed. The Conservative party had previously promised a free vote on the matter, while Labour plans to tighten loopholes in the ban.

Lord Mandelson shared this example during a discussion on the influence of political donations on policy. He mentioned that an animal welfare organization had demanded a hunting ban in exchange for a significant amount of money, which led to a commitment in the manifesto that was not entirely in line with Blair’s preferences.

Mandelson did not name the specific group responsible, but in 1996 Labour accepted a £1m donation from Brian Davies, founder of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The hunting ban is believed by some senior Labour figures to have created a longstanding division between the party and rural voters. Despite the ban, activists argue that foxhunting still occurs due to loopholes in the legislation that allow dogs to chase a scented cloth instead. Labour has pledged to address these loopholes and strengthen penalties under the next manifesto, but they do not plan to introduce any major animal rights legislation that could further alienate rural communities.

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