We must treat animals humanely. The measure of the way that we treat them is indicative of the kind of people we are.
Background (written by Ian):
For centuries, and long before the UK had an army of meat inspectors backed by laws affecting slaughterhouses, a culture developed in UK farming that was respectful of the animals kept for human consumption. British native breeds (the Red Devon cattle, the Dorset Down sheep, and many others) were bred for their docile nature. This was less so on mainland Europe and further afield. It was a British thing, and was mirrored by the kind way that countryfolk and townsfolk alike treated their dogs, pets, horses, and all animals whether in the food chain or not. No farmer worthy of the respect of his peers would be cruel to his animals. This included treatment at the end of life, when animals were given a stun prior to slaughter, the purpose of which was to avoid causing the animal unnecessary pain.
Eventually, slaughter on farm declined as population growth led to the establishment of dedicated slaughterhouses. Traditional customs originating on farms were codified into British law. A key line written into law and still current states :
” … all such animals should be rendered insensible to pain prior to having the throat cut with death supervening by bleeding.”
Although the death of an animal must by its nature be an unpleasant affair, the key part of this important line of our law is the first part, namely that the animal should first be stunned (rendered insensible to pain). Without that provision, the suffering in our slaughterhouses would be unthinkable. Yet this is what the current discussion is about. In the last two decades (since The Welfare of Animals Slaughter or Killing Regulations 1995) and regardless of the above law, there has grown an industry in the UK engaged deliberately in the slaughter of farm animals without the benefit of a pre-stun, see the CIWF report: “Briefing – Religious Slaughter”
The numbers have grown dramatically. In the UK 37 per cent of sheep and goats, 25 per cent of cattle and 16 per cent of poultry in Halal abattoirs were killed without being stunned first. See this article in the DT: “Sharp rise in halal abattoirs slaughtering animals without stunning them first“ . And even where stunning is used it is “stun to stun” rather than “stun to kill”.
The number of animals affected far exceed the direct consumption requirements of the religious communities. This large scale non-stun practice is surely an outrage; the suffering caused to these animal is unacceptable; the law is not being enforced in that the exceptions are supposed to be for the consumption of religious communities only and not for the general public, see “The Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2015” . The whole thing is un-British and reflects terribly on the kind of society we are becoming.
Policy U turn (written by Hugo)
I was delighted when UKIP announced the humane policy regarding animal welfare. The policy was widely reported by the media in early February 2015.
Telegraph: “Ukip bans non-stun slaughtering in abattoirs”
The policy was announced on the main UKIP website, and I saved it for future reference.
However something was wrong. Ian Kealey (PPC North Somerset) had heard that there would probably be a policy U-turn. Ian is from a farming family, he is very much concerned to treat animals well, as most farmers are.
Ian and I wrote separate documents and submitted them to the NEC. The title of his eight page document is “UKIP policy on the banning of ritual slaughter”. Dated 13th April 2015. Ian has given permission for it to be freely distributed, it is available here. The document makes eight well argued points in favour of the humane method using proper stunning of animals. His co-author is Kenneth Barrah, a food animal pathologist with 53 years experience in the meat industry in the UK. He lectures veterinary students at Bristol University.
My nine page document, dated 10th April 2015 has the title “Discussion on the UKIP Humane Policy – Regarding the pre-stunning of animals in abattoirs”. It gives the background information, and my own thoughts and feelings on the matter, and that of branch members. A typical response from members was:
“Too right Hugo. I for one am disgusted that we let animals be treated in such a way (it is 2015, we have come a long way as you described). There should be no excuses under any circumstances – these animals cannot ‘fight’ back and trust us to be ‘kind’.” Amorée Radford, B&NES branch.
Amorée is a great campaigner. She had been heavily involved in the campaign to save the Cadbury’s factory in Keynsham from closure. It is the good, decent, enthusiastic grass-roots members like her who the party needs to listen to. If the party cannot listen to its members then what is the point of the party?
Aftermath (written by Hugo)
For me this is a red line matter. I felt that I could not continue as a member of UKIP due to this policy. My membership lapsed in the summer of 2015 and I did not renew. I did remain as a supporter, primarily to assist the EU referendum campaign.
I also helped with the campaign in Stoke, of course without knowing about the infamous craven leaflet which Lisa Duffy confirmed to me was delivered only to “Asian” households. She was not involved with that, it was organised by Paul Nuttall and the local branch.
For me, the term “Asian” used when the word “Muslim” is more accurate is grossly unfair to perfectly decent, well integrated Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs etc. We must become more precise in our language, and not inadvertently alienate those who are our natural allies.
It saddens me that UKIP has lost its way. We must have one law for everybody and everybody subject to the same law. Religious abattoirs are de facto exempt from animal cruelty laws which apply, correctly, to non-religious abattoirs.
Without one law for all it will be impossible to have a coherent society. The issue of non-stun slaughter is important in itself of course. However it is indicative of a deeper malaise within the party and within the whole country too. We must wake up, preferably sooner rather than later.
[Ed: this article has been researched and written by both Hugo Jenks and Ian Kealey.]