Animal Aid

In memory of Tony Banks: A champion of animals

Posted 1 January 2006

Everyone at Animal Aid is very upset to hear of Tony Banks's death. He was a vegetarian and an outspoken supporter of and tenacious worker for animal welfare and animal rights.

Last summer Tony agreed to open and take part in Animal Aid's annual sponsored walk, where we presented him with a special award for championing the cause of animal protection over so many years. As well as walking the course, he stayed for the whole day, talking, listening and arguing about politics, animal rights and his recent elevation (though he strongly disputed that was the correct word) to the House of Lords. As a member of the Greater London Council he had been involved in animal campaigning, including banning animal circuses from Council land, and then as an MP he had continued his animal work, notably helping to ensure that the ban on hunting was not dropped by the Government.

Also last year, Animal Aid interviewed Tony and he told us how he had been concerned about animal cruelty since he had been a child. He commented on the hunting ban:

"I would have preferred the Hunting Act to have been tighter than it was, but it's very hard to stop barbarous people being cruel. Legislative progress is only one part of the whole process of a move towards a civilised society. It will be part of what I call 'the withering on the vine process'. Hunting will gradually disappear and it will be helped by legislation and enforcement, but it will remain hard to stop the efforts of loathsome barbarous individuals."

He also gave advice for animal rights supporters frustrated by the slow rate of progress:

"Never allow yourself to be broken. Animals need you. It's a battle to win hearts and minds and you won't do it with violence. It gives both the public and MPs an excuse to ignore you."

Tony never ignored us, and he never allowed other people to ignore him. He was one of our best spokespeople, and we will miss him.

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