Arguing to allow non-stun religious slaughter, Mr. Agnew made a number of points which need to be examined carefully. Do they make sense to you? The transcript of this part of the speech is here, and heard here.
If you can stomach it, watch this video. Instant unconsciousness when using stunning, contrasts the clear distress that cattle and sheep suffer when their throat is cut while still fully conscious. The RSPCA and British Veterinary Association oppose this avoidable cruelty, judge for yourself.
We must examine Stuart Agnew’s arguments.
SA: “A lot of UKIP members keep saying to me ‘come on Stuart why don’t you just ban it? UKIP can just ban all of this and we’ll go back to what we had’ And yes I understand the sentiments that are based around animal welfare, but I believe if we were to go down that route we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot”
No, it is called “democracy”. There is overwhelming support among grassroots members for a humane policy, including a ban on non-stun. I have spoken at three branch meetings; it was nearly unanimous to ban it. Fundamentally, is UKIP democratic or not? The noisy handful of religious lobbyists within the party carry more weight than the many grassroots activists.
SA: “You will not stop the demand for Halal meat in this country just because we don’t use the slaughter method here”
Yes, you will. Muslims are permitted to eat non-Halal meat if Halal is not available.
SA: “if we are signed up to WTO we cannot ban imports just because we don’t like the way they were produced.”
Then the WTO must change its rules – it must be lobbied as a parallel activity. This should not prevent us banning non-stun in the UK. We banned slavery, and then pressurised the rest of the world to follow. We did not avoid banning slavery just because other countries were continuing. Decent principles must prevail.
SA: “20% of all the sheep meat that is produced in this country is consumed by British Muslims. It is an enormous market and if we suddenly lose it, it’s going to have a big impact on British agriculture.”
This is a one-sided argument. If the UK implements a humane policy, building a reputation of good meat quality, there would be increased export potential.
SA: “He [small farmer] is also going to be hurt by it, by the massive increase in … sheep rustling prior to a Muslim festival. It’s getting very bad news indeed now …”
A nonsense argument. Stealing sheep is a criminal offence. Unapproved slaughtering is too. Give stiff penalties for such offences. Michael Gove is introducing long custodial sentences for animal cruelty.
SA: “I think we will see Muslims purchasing areas of northern England and Scotland and running a complete underground sheep operation, no subsidies so there’ll be no inspection of the land. Slaughtering in the bothies and the farm buildings. No meat inspection.”
This criminal activity would need to be stamped out. The public abhor cruelty, and would report suspicious activity.
SA: “I don’t want to go down this route is because of the impact on the Jewish community. The Jews also have non-stun religious slaughter. But their attitude to this is very very different. They say that God says it’s alright to kill one of my creatures as long as there is no suffering involved. .. They kill an animal without any pain at all.”
Where is the evidence that cutting the throat, however sharp the knife, causes no pain? The RSPCA and BVA oppose it on cruelty grounds. Political parties should base policy upon scientific evidence.
SA: “if we have this ban on Halal we can’t say one law for Jews and the other for Muslims.”
Indeed so. And we cannot have different laws for religious and non-religious abattoirs either. Is UKIP serious about “one law for all” or not?
SA: “The law says you must stun before you kill unless that meat is going to be eaten by either a Muslim or a Jew and they must be practicing. Well, there is Halal meat all over the place.”
This is a good point. The existing law has to be enforced, such that non-Muslims are prevented from eating Halal, and non-Jews are prevented from eating Kosher. It would automatically cause retailers to implement proper labelling, and checks of customers.
SA: “Well that [selling of kosher slaughtered meat to the general public] has got to stop, I will fight the Jew’s corner up until the point of where they want to break the law and then I won’t, they’re going to have to deal with this themselves.”
An inconsistency of argument. If SA thinks that banning Kosher non-stun would be anti-Semitic, then wouldn’t this be regarded as such too?
SA: “We need to label. Label properly.”
Labelling is a side issue. It would be implemented automatically by retailers if the current law was upheld such that non-Muslims and non-Jews were prevented from buying it. No need for additional legislation.
SA: “actually 24% of all the Halal meat that’s killed in this country is pre-stunned.”
This is a half-truth – look up “taqiyya”. They use the inadequate “stun to stun” method. UKIP should press for the most effective method, which currently is “stun to kill”.
SA: “some illicit demonstration’s done whereby an animal’s been stunned and everyone stood back and it’s got up and walked away. Once they’ve seen that, they’re happy that stunning is alright.”
This demonstrates that “stun to stun” is inadequate. An animal can regain consciousness before the blood has drained out, and still feel pain.
SA: “And we can have CCTV in the abattoirs – that’s a UKIP policy recently stolen by the Tories, what’s new there?”
Better hurry up, or they might ban non-stun too while UKIP is still dithering. Michael Gove is already tightening up on animal cruelty laws.
If UKIP is to retain any relevance beyond Brexit then it must honestly address matters such as this. Appeasement never works. Should UKIP listen to the religious lobbyists, or to the grassroots members?