The big top’s forgotten victims

Photographed by a Scotland for Animals member at Zippos, Glasgow Green yesterday. Cats in compartments in a trailer.

The big felines are away but the small ones are taking their place. In a campaigning environment when tough battles are too much hard work some animals are more equal than others.

When you hear the welfare groups and politicians smugly announcing that they’ve won on circuses remember this picture.

John

SfA statement on the banning of wild animals in circuses

Scotland for Animals welcomes indications from the Scottish Government that it is about to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.

The inclusion of wild animals in any legislation should this be enacted is positive, however the number of non-domesticated animals used in circuses in the UK is comparatively minuscule.

While one wild animal in a circus is one too many, the large number of domesticated animals now being used for entertainment in these shows will continue to be exploited. An example of this can be seen in a circus currently touring Scotland with a “family” of performing cats.

Proposals also do not appear to include static circuses, which would create a huge legal loophole. Nor do they appear to include a ban on any circuses operating in Scotland from owning animals, which could potentially lead to animals still being permitted to be transported with these circuses as long as they were not shown in Scottish performances.

When the potential ineffectiveness of this legislation is viewed in correspondence to claims from government that this is a significant leap forward, we fear that this is another case of Ministers taking the path of least resistance for maximum positive PR.

The enthusiasm for this ban contrasts sharply with the indifference and often hostility shown by the same officials to calls for the protection of animals at time of slaughter, harsher penalties for cruelty to ‘companion animals’, or an end to the use of animals in experiments.

We would appeal to MSPs to consider these problems and tighten any legislation to include all animals. Any moves for legislative change must be part of a broader framework of implementing a comprehensive legal overhaul of our system of animal protection or they will fail.

 

John Patrick. Co-Convenor

Aiysha Ullah. Co-Convenor

Richard Lochhead resigns

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, has resigned. He held the ministerial post which includes responsibility for animal welfare since 2007.

Mr Lochhead’s reign was a hard one for animals not least as a result of his department’s rabid opposition to mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses and inaction on unstunned slaughter.

We hope that his successor will disregard questionable, often spurious advice from some Civil Servants and financial interests and give animals protection appropriate for a civilised society.

We understand however that one of the reasons cited for his stepping down is his wife’s recent diagnosis with breast cancer. Despite our differences over the years our thoughts are with him and his family and we wish her a speedy recovery.

J

CCTV: Urgent call for action

The election is over and and we have new faces in parliament. SfA look forward to working with everyone who has an interest in making our country a world leader in animal welfare.

In an interesting development Scottish Green MSPs have found themselves in a position that could potentially hold the balance of power at Holyrood. As the Greens have secured votes by placing themselves as the pro-animal welfare party this is an opportunity for them to step up and push through measures to improve legislation.

It’s a chance not only for citizens to hold a party and it’s elected members to account but to bring about real change.

If you’re resident in Scotland please contact the Greens Co-Convenor and MSP Patrick Harvie and ask for a firm commitment to drastically improve the welfare of the millions of animals killed every year in Scotland’s abattoirs.

Contact: Patrick.Harvie.msp@scottish.parliament.uk 

Sample text:

Dear Mr Harvie,

I am writing to you in your capacity as Scottish Green Party Co-Convenor. (if you live in the Greater Glasgow area remove this and insert I am writing to you in your capacity as MSP for Glasgow region)

I note that it is being widely reported that due to the Scottish National Party now operating a minority government that Scottish Green MSPs, including yourself, have been involved in negotiations with Ministers with a view to influencing policy in return for Green support.

The Scottish Green Party has arguably more than any other in Scotland captured votes motivated by it’s positions on animal welfare. As your party and it’s MSPs appear now to be in a position to implement real change I ask that you please commit to the insistence, as part of any agreement with government, that legislation for the introduction of mandatory, independently monitored CCTV in slaughterhouses be introduced in Scotland.

Rather than a system of voluntary installation and management favoured by some Scottish animal organisations the above is necessary to ensure proper adherence and enforcement. The flaws of self-regulation and optional involvement with regards to CCTV can be seen in recent exposure of appalling cruelty at abattoirs where voluntary CCTV is already in place.

Further evidence that legislation is required can be seen by last weeks reports that abattoirs are refusing to hand over footage to enforcement bodies.

I trust that you will be aware of details surrounding this issue however I have been informed that the charity Scotland for Animals who lead the campaign for abattoir CCTV in Scotland can provide consultation on request.

I look forward to your reply.

http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5323fef14402c8a6293efe8c3&id=306594a74c

Codes will never take the place of real legislation

There appears to be the usual hand-wringing over an announcement that the UK govt. is to abolish animal welfare codes in England.

Let’s be clear on this, these codes are just guidance. You can get away with the absolute bare minimum that slaughter and welfare legislation require codes or not.

In fact you can get away with far less than the legal minimum as we’ve seen on numerous occasions so what use are codes of practice?

As it’s obligatory for staff involved in slaughter and animal ‘husbandry’ to be aware of these codes it’s claimed that these can be used as a prosecutorial tool should the law be broken. Again as we see with depressing regularity extreme cruelty hardly even reaches a courtroom.

Support for codes or gentlemen’s agreements is at times used as a fudge by groups and individuals who are either too cowardly, too corrupt or usually both to support real changes in law. This position is notably deployed to avoid supporting the introduction of mandatory CCTV in abattoirs.

These will never be a substitute for solid legislation and proper enforcement. Let’s throw our weight behind fighting for that instead.

John

Election bulletin 2016

ELECTION BULLETIN. ANIMALS NEED YOUR HELP NOW.

There’s a campaign active at the moment involving some of the more establishment- friendly groups appealing for candidates to sign a pledge to work for improvements for animals if elected.
This alleged vow contains a list of vague, non-specific ‘promises’. Ideal for unscrupulous politicians of all stripes to steal your vote while committing to nothing.
Some of the organisations involved have a history of covering the backs of MSPs and Ministers while they throw Scotland’s animals onto the fire. It comes as no surprise that they would facilitate a PR stunt for a political class responsible for inadequate legal protections and to whom some in the movement have become too close for comfort.
There are some good, committed names in there too sadly. We’re disappointed that they’ve allowed themselves to have been pulled into this caper.
This will be a big election. We can shape the future for animals in Scotland but this will need more than empty theatrics.

We all deserve better than that, human and non-human.

We know there are decent politicians in our nation and there’ll be more on the way in. Let’s show them that thousands of SfA supporters, their friends and their families are right behind them.
Please contact candidates in your area and ask them to support Scotland for Animals’ 5 points:

1) Mandatory, independently monitored CCTV in slaughterhouses

2) Amendment of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act to allow heavier penalties for cruelty

3) A public inquiry into the efficacy of the use of animals in research

4) Clear labelling of meat from animals not stunned prior to slaughter

5) A ban on the use of all animals in circuses

This would be a good start.

If you would like to help with our 2016 election campaign or want us to send our election leaflet and poster get in touch. Also available to download here:

 

We’ll be here to provide free consultation for any candidates.

Let’s lead the way

John Patrick

Co-Convenor

http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=5323fef14402c8a6293efe8c3&id=c2c002c869&e=[UNIQID]

With friends like these, animals don’t need enemies

I was talking to a young muslim guy at one of our events recently about animal welfare. He told me how disgusted he was at the treatment of animals he witnessed when visiting relatives in Pakistan, I won’t go into what he told me.

During the course of the conversation we ended up on the inevitable subject. To stun or not to stun.

This was a decent guy, we agreed on everything until this point. Then it looked as if we were going to fall out.

We debated back and forward for a good half hour until I pulled the scientific data out and showed this to him. He was confused, he claimed that imams at Glasgow mosque had repeatedly assured worshippers that not stunning was the most humane way forward and produced compelling (but ultimately bogus) ‘evidence’ exposing the evils of the stun.

The guy told me he felt used. Causing animal suffering was unislamic he said. The guy had been cheated out of his right to apply his deeply felt belief that animals should be treated with as much compassion and care as possible.

This incident is typical of the misinformation and self-serving hypocrisy surrounding one of the most important welfare issues of our time.

last Monday MPs debated a motion to outlaw unstunned slaughter at the UK parliament. This was prompted by a petition launched by the British Veterinary Association and the RSPCA which allegedly called for it’s end.

Scotland for Animals made the decision to ask our supporters not to sign. I believed at the time that this was a sham and a publicity stunt. I still do.

The motion was undermined by the BVA/ RSPCA’s own claims, based on highly dubious foundations, that over 80% of animals slaughtered for halal meat are stunned. They scuppered their own petition and I believe they scuppered this deliberately as they don’t actually support a ban.

The usual suspects were wheeled out screeching about ‘community relations’ and ‘racism’. Diane Abbott MP at least had the honesty to admit she wasn’t there to discuss facts but how calls for a ban were offending her constituents. Animal welfare seems to be the only issue where evidence is ignored and everything rests on the ‘sensitivities’ of those benefitting from suffering.

To be honest I’m sick of hearing about ‘sensitivities’. Grow up.

I’m also angry when hearing self-appointed ‘community leaders’ and vote grabbing politicians whine about how offended they are and branding anybody with the audacity to stand up for the right thing as a racist or a bigot.

Sadly animal welfare organisations have joined them in slandering decent people as you can see here. To protect their lucrative careers they would rather sneer and smear than stand by their guns. They’re all in it together.

What’s just as important in fighting for the rights of animals is fighting any attempt to turn the people who want this against each other. We aren’t atheists, muslims, jews, christians, black or white, we’re members of one community who have the fibre to want an end to suffering and abuse.

Don’t let either side divide us.

Beware the new animal champions

You may have seen a story in Scottish papers this morning regarding the Scottish Environment Minister Aileen McLeod’s alleged ”concern” that the fox hunt ‘ban’ in Scotland may be being flouted.

Nonsense. You can still technically hunt foxes in Scotland quite legally if you play the game which most hunts do.

I believe the Minister will be well aware of this and the many holes in the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 because if she isn’t she shouldn’t be in the job.

The same Minister for the Environment who appears to have discovered her moral outrage recently gushed over the Scottish Gamekeepers Association at the Young Gamekeeper of the Year Awards effectively thanking them for writing Scottish Government policy.

The hunting and shooting lobby were praised “…..for all the long term support which you have provided to Scottish Government in various areas of policy, development and implementation and making sure we are implementing best practices of conservation and wildlife and wildlife management.…”.

The Scottish Government’s apparent repositioning on the ethical high ground is more to do with the vote in England next week where Scottish SNP MPs will be put on the spot of whether to vote against a repeal on the hunting ban there or abstain. It know’s there’s overwhelming public disapproval of fox hunting and wants to make political capital from this.

After years of inaction on this shambles of a law in Scotland suddenly Ministers here are loudly spinning themselves as the new guardians of animal’s rights. Between this and their smoke and mirrors animals in circuses stance you’re talking a propaganda exercise worthy of 80’s Romania.

If you’re an SNP member ask why the hierarchy are cherry-picking issues which are easy to fudge but great for PR while working hard to block attempts to protect animals at slaughter, washing their hands of animals abused and killed in research and a pile of other scandals.

Many SfA supporters are also supporters and members of the Scottish National Party. They tell us that they’re disappointed with party officials in government who are paying lip service to animal welfare while allowing the abuse industry to run rampage in our country.

With a grassroots push you could truly position yourselves as a real party for animals human and non-human (this goes for all the parties). It would be a shame if the career men and women at the top are allowed to take that away from you.

Politicians need to learn you can’t ride 2 bikes with only one bum. Pick a side.

J

Earthquake or squeaky fart? We’ll see.

On may 8th Scotland woke up to a very different political landscape. Different that is in the dominant party.

This has been touted as a defining moment, a sea-change, a revolution even. My friends say I’m a cynic but I’m not convinced.

I’ll stick to the Scottish situation as that’s where my experience lies and I don’t want to patronise my English, Welsh or Cornish comrades who will no doubt know the lay of the land there better than me. We’ve seen politicians come and go with promises to change the world. This is often very quickly forgotten once they realise that to keep their careers, lavish expenses and salaries far beyond the reaches of most Scottish Citizens (no, we’ll never be subjects even though it says it on our passports) they need to keep their heads down and toe the line.

With regards to the parties and animals rights/ welfare you couldn’t get a fag paper between them policy wise. All display varying degrees of “we’d love to help but we can’t as it would cost jobs/ upset religious groups/ cause your granny to die of cancer/ spark the breakdown of society (delete as applicable).”.

Another factor that’s neglected is the power of the Civil Service. These unelected individuals effectively frame government policy and it doesn’t matter who you vote in, they’ll still be advised by the same Civil Servants.

So what happens when Civil Servants go rogue? You get this: http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=5323fef14402c8a6293efe8c3&id=48da7fa58b&e=2f77016e41 and this: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5323fef14402c8a6293efe8c3&id=d68ab3d3b7&e=352310fc9d and who knows what else we’ll never find out.

There are Civil Servants, MSPs, MP’s, Councillors and elected Community Representatives across Scotland with integrity and honour. Because of the current situation where officials prefer to deal with crooked, ‘animal welfare’ organisations who have been counting their substantial salaries over the corpses of dead, brutalised animals for years many politicians genuinely don’t know that they’re being conned.

What we need is real political change. From top to bottom it’s broken and needs stripped and rebuilt. If you voted last Thursday join that party and change it from the inside. If you didn’t get active and start contacting your representatives, takes 5 minutes here: https://www.writetothem.com/

To the newly elected MPs and sitting political reps of all stripes? Let’s work together and build a new Scotland for humans and non-humans.

Scotland for Animals aren’t the neds/ thugs/ degenerates/ malcontents (again, delete as applicable) that a small but very powerful alliance of industry, bent animal groups and the officially corrupt would lead you to believe.

We’re wee furby’s really. Call us.

General Election 2015

MAJOR PARTY MANIFESTOS

SUMMARY

Please do remember that this is party policies, but some individual candidates have their own animal welfare commitments so please do ask the candidates in your own region what they would do if elected. On balance SfA recommends supporters to vote for individual candidates on merit of their commitment to overhauling legislation to protect animals.

Please note nothing below is an endorsement, support nor recommendation to vote for any parties mentioned. Information is purely presented on the strength of animal welfare policy.

UKIP has by far the lengthiest and most detailed plans. They also focus on 2 subjects SFA is working on – CCTV in abattoirs and unstunned slaughter. If they would follow this up if elected though is anybody’s guess.

The worst is Scottish Labour – they give no mention to animals.

Shockingly The Scottish Greens have the second worse manifesto for animals.

SNP policy is very vague. It claims as evidence of it’s commitment to animal welfare how it has worked hard to “consider” better protection for animals at for example time of slaughter. No mention is given to what they actually stand for or will bring into law however.

Scottish Conservatives – The party specifically mentions that it will support slaughter without stunning and bloodsports.

SCOTTISH CONSERVATIVES

We will support our fishing and coastal communities

We will defend our hard-won Common Fisheries Policy reforms, which include ending the scandalous practice of discarding perfectly edible fish and reforming the quota system so that all at-risk species will be fished sustainably by the end of the next Parliament. We will continue to devolve the management of North Sea fisheries to local communities, and rebalance the UK’s inland water quotas to smaller, specific locally-based fishing communities.

We will support countryside pursuits

We will protect countryside pursuits including fishing, for all the benefits to individuals, the environment and the rural economy that these activities bring. We will oppose the SNP’s proposals to bring back rural sporting rates which could threaten hundreds of rural jobs.

We will protect animal welfare

The quality of the food on your plate, and the economic security of our farmers, depend on us upholding the highest standards of animal welfare. We will push for high animal welfare standards to be incorporated into international trade agreements and into reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. We will ban wild animals in circuses and press for all EU member states to ensure that animals are only sent to slaughterhouses that meet high welfare standards. We will encourage other countries to follow the EU’s lead in banning animal testing for cosmetics and work to accelerate the global development and take-up of alternatives to animal testing where appropriate. We want people to integrate fully into British society, but that does not mean they should have to give up the things they hold dear in their religion. So while we will always make sure the Food Standards Agency properly regulates the slaughter of livestock and poultry, we will protect methods of religious slaughter, such as shechita and halal.

We will tackle international wildlife trade

As hosts of the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, we helped secure the adoption of the London Declaration on Illegal Wildlife Trade and will continue to lead the world in stopping the poaching that kills thousands of rhinos, elephants and tigers each year. We will oppose any resumption of commercial whaling, and seek further measures at the EU and internationally to end shark-finning. We will promote effective worldwide measures for tuna conservation, press for a total ban on ivory sales, and support the Indian Government in its efforts to protect the Asian elephant. We will press for full ‘endangered species’ status for polar bears and a ban on the international trade in polar bear skins, as well as for greater attention to be paid to the impact of climate change on wildlife and habitats in Polar Regions in the Arctic Council and other international fora.

THE SCOTTISH GREENS

We will ensure our most important wildlife sites are given proper protection from development, encourage restoration of habitats that help us manage land and water sustainably

We will direct European funding for agriculture and fishing to support sustainable land management and long-term fish stock recovery.

SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY

There is no mention of animals.

SCOTTISH LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Liberal Democrats believe in the highest standards of animal welfare. We will review the rules surrounding the sale of pets to ensure they support responsible breeding and sales and minimise the use of animals in scientific experimentation, including by funding research into alternatives. We remain committed to the three Rs of humane animal research: Replace, Reduce, Refine.

Fully implement reforms of the Common Fisheries Policy, working with industry and others to develop a national plan for sustainable UK fisheries …

SNP SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY

Work to ensure the discard ban is workable for our fishing fleet

While responsibility for animal welfare is devolved to the Scottish Parliament –and the SNP in government is already working to improve the conditions of kept animals, including consultations on responsible dog ownership and wild animals in travelling circuses, and giving consideration to further protection at slaughter, the registration or licensing of horse establishments and a review of tail docking in working dogs – at Westminster we will support further animal welfare measures with a global focus. This includes action to end the illegal ivory trade and protect species such as polar bears and bluefin tuna.

We are engaging with the industry on our review of fish quota management. We want to ensure quotas are managed in the common interest, so that active fishermen have access to the quota that they need, rather than seeing them concentrated in the hands of those with the deepest pockets. We will continue to work to ensure the discard ban is implemented in a way that does not damage the viability of the fleet and is workable for our fishermen. Sensible implementation will deliver benefits for the fleet and consumers as we end the practice of dumping perfectly good fish back into the sea.

UKIP

Food Labelling

Food labelling will come back under the control of the Westminster Parliament when we leave the EU. Then we can insist animal products are labelled to show the country of origin, method of production and transport and whether the animal was stunned before slaughter, together with any information concerning hormones and GM products. We believe strongly that customers have the right to see this information.

Animal Health and Welfare

We can only regain control of animal health and welfare by leaving the EU. UKIP takes both issues seriously and we will:

  • Triple the maximum jail sentences for animal cruelty and torture
  • Impose lifetime bans on owning and/or looking after animals on any individual or company convicted of animal cruelty or torture
  • Keep the ban on animal testing for cosmetics
  • Challenge companies using animals for testing drugs or other medical treatments on the necessity for this form of testing, as opposed to the use of alternative technology
  • Tightly regulate animal testing
  • Ban the export of live animals for slaughter
  • Insist on formal non-stun training and certification for all religious slaughtermen to ensure the highest standards are adhered to
  • Install CCTV in every abattoir, monitored by the Meat Hygiene Service, and deal severely with any contraventions.
  • Remove unnecessary EU restrictions that make small, local abattoirs unviable

We will also prepare for the possibility of disease outbreaks (including those) caused by imports. We cannot expect our farmers to bear the full brunt of any such outbreaks, but we will encourage them to introduce testing programmes and invest in insurance schemes to deal with potential outbreaks, as the poultry sector has done with the salmonella testing programme and associated insurance scheme.

Fishing

Britain’s seas should be the jewel in her crown, but we surrendered these priceless family treasures when we joined the then EEC 1973 and our territorial waters were merged into one giant European fishery. The UK has almost 70 per cent of Europe’s fishing grounds but only 13 per cent percent of its fishing quota. So, we must import fish species such as cod, haddock and huss that our own fishermen are forced to throw overboard – usually dead – because of EU rules. The EU itself estimates 40 per cent of all fish caught are discarded, so as much as two million tons of perfectly edible fish are wasted every year. The EU’s proposed discard ban will not fix this problem, just move it onshore.

Worse, while preaching ‘conservation,’ the EU allows industrial fishing techniques such as electric pulse trawling, which destroys marine life and disturbs the ecological balance of our seascapes. We can only replenish Britain’s bounty of fish and restore our fishing industry if we leave the EU and withdraw from the CFP. Then we can:

  • Establish a 12-mile zone around our coastline for UK fishermen and a 200-mile exclusive economic zone under UK control, as is our right under international law
  • Reverse the rapid decline in our fishing industry and return £2.5 billion a year in fish sales to the UK

economy

  • Enforce ‘no-take’ zones to aid spawning and replenish fish stocks
  • Protect our coastal eco system by ending destructive industrial fishing practices
  • End the slaughter of dolphins by banning pair trawler fishing for bass
  • Work with our fishermen to solve discard and landing issues
  • Reverse any EU-wide drift-net ban in British waters
  • Issue permits for foreign trawlers once fish stocks have returned to sustainable levels.

Fishing Boats Under 10 Metres

Smaller fishing boats make up the majority of the UK fleet but only receive only 4 per cent of the English quota, while the five largest foreign-controlled vessels take 32 per cent. It is grossly unfair and damages fish stock sustainability. Small-scale inshore fishing is the backbone of the UK fishing industry and we will end this injustice.

Sea Angling

Over 750,000 people enjoy sea angling in the UK. It is a profitable hobby for Britain: VAT income from sea angling is worth more than the value of all commercial landings and some 23,000 jobs depend on sea angling, yet the EU is planning to restrict anglers to catching just three sea bass a day. We suspect this will eventually lead to EU controls on all angling and we will vociferously oppose this threat.