Animal Aid

LABOUR'S BETRAYAL - What chance protection for animals in the new parliament?

Posted 29 May 2001
Hairless mouse

Animal Aid has published on its website an election statement detailing how the Labour government has failed animals during the last four years, despite the many promises it made prior to the 1997 general election.

A Blair government, says the statement, was to have marked a clean break from the years of Conservative rule; a period characterised by policy initiatives that framed animals as mere commodities or quarry for 'sporting' enthusiasts.

It is now clear that Labour had no real agenda for welfare reform. In fact, the Blair government has not only reneged on several promises and near-promises, it has worked diligently to marginalise and criminalise animal rights activists - the vast majority of whom are committed to peaceful campaigning.

Animal Aid, even at this late hour, urges all parties and individual politicians to recognise their moral duty to the hundreds of millions of animals who, every year, are slaughtered, hunted, experimented on, exploited by the pet trade, by circuses, zoos and in other ways. By speaking out in their defence, the plight of these animals will find a place on the news agenda during election coverage. And such coverage might then translate into constructive policy initiatives on the part of the new government.

Notes to Editors

  • A summary of the main points follows. Also see Animal Aid's full election statement.
  • For more information contact Yvonne Taylor or Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546.
  • For more information about Animal Aid's campaigns in this area see our campaigns section.

    After years of prevarication and double-speak, there is still no ban on hunting and Blair now looks happy to settle for the so-called Middle Way option, which would leave hunting intact.

    Labour has been stunningly duplicitous on animal experiments, with Jack Straw's Home Office ignoring or rubbishing undercover investigations that have produced evidence of shoddy science, law breaking and a level of animal suffering that goes beyond even what a laissez-faire law permits.

    The government's handling of the foot and mouth (F&M) crisis demonstrates its impotence in the face of the moneyed, landed clique that controls the NFU. Ben Gill and chums wanted a cull, no vaccination and hundreds of millions of additional featherbedding money - and that's precisely what they got. Never mind that F & M is a consequence of oppressive, high-throughput animal production systems, and that more such epidemics will inevitably follow.

    The definition of terrorism has been widened to the extent that it would have ensnared the suffragettes and the Greenham Common women. Today's GM food protesters and animal rights activists on peaceful demos are also vulnerable to being redefined as terrorists and subjected to mass arrests, if the police 'suspect' that they are intent on causing property damage or intimidating the public.

    There is already a panoply of legislation to quell violent demos and deal with other forms of lawbreaking by activists.

    Animal welfare is said to generate more letters to MPs than any other issue. This is not soft-headedness but a sign that a great many people recognise the extreme vulnerability of animals in our culture, and are determined to win for them genuine protection.

    So how will the parties fare?

    - Labour cashed in on the animal vote in 1997 but the trust has gone and there will be no such windfall this time.

    - Conservative policy makers are seen, in general terms, as being animal unfriendly.

    - The Lib Dems have advanced - in earlier position papers rather than in their 2001 manifesto - a series of practical but mostly modest welfare initiatives. Whether and how these might translate into action is the big question.

    - The Green Party has the soundest animal-friendly policies and a vote for that party would serve as encouragement.

    - There is also the option of giving the ballot box a miss, or - more constructively - of 'spoiling' ballot papers with a message such as 'Rights for Animals'.

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