Cameron re-elected: the fight for animals continues

Posted on the 8th May 2015

A statement by Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler

In the run-up to the election Animal Aid’s clear view, based on an objective assessment of the evidence from the past several years, was that another Tory government – or a Tory-led coalition – would be dreadful news for animals. By way of illustration, the Tories are avid promoters of hunting, the badger cull and shooting, and they have also failed, against the public’s wishes, to end the use of animals in circuses, as well as presiding over an increase in the use of animals in experiments, despite a promise to drive down the number.

A Labour-led government would have been on the right side of most, if not all, of those issues.

While Animal Aid is determined to gain as much ground for animals as we can through the political process – and that means engaging with the new government, its ministers and back-benchers – we know the best prospects for advancing the cause of animal protection lie not with politicians but where they have always resided: amongst the general public.

When Animal Aid looks at its most significant advances over the years, they have invariably had little or nothing to do with politics. They have resulted from our success in rousing a great many people to demand progressive change, and that change has come because business and commerce have not been able to resist the will (and more importantly the purchasing power) of the public.

One example that comes to mind is the ending of Britain’s largest exotic bird fair, at which were sold large numbers of wild-caught birds taken from their homelands in South America and Africa, who ended up living the rest of their lives caged and isolated. We also played the leading role in defeating Cambridge University’s plans for a monkey research centre that would have been the size of two supermarket superstores. The UK-wide Focus DIY chain was retailing animals like pots of paint. Many of them were reptiles, with highly complex needs. Our long-running campaign convinced Focus to stop all such sales.

A shorter but equally decisive campaign ended the shooting club that had been run by the John Lewis Partnership for decades, for which a large number of ‘game birds’ were intensively bred to be shot for pleasure, principally by senior management.

In the field of horse racing, our determined, thoroughly researched exposés of the use of the whip forced the industry’s regulatory body to introduce far tougher rules on the use of that instrument of punishment. Clearly that work, and the work on the other issues referred to, continues – as does our determination to see mandatory installation of CCTV cameras in all slaughterhouses. The progress we have made so far on that front is impressive (all leading supermarkets now demand that their slaughterhouse suppliers have cameras). We still need across-the-board compulsory installation with proper monitoring.

None of what we’ve described above could have been achieved without the help of our wonderful supporters. We will need you at our side in the future, and many more like you.

And so, while the election result cannot be declared good news for animal protection, Animal Aid sees undiminished scope for continuing our battle to reduce the suffering of animals, enhance their standing in culture, commerce and law, and in so doing change this country for the better.

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