Keith's View

Falling Into The Trap

This headline according to the front page of the 'left leaning' Independent newspaper on Saturday, 13 November 2010. The rest of the story is down below for what it's worth. We are being led to believe it has become a tragedy for animal rights that the Tories are in power, that the Labour government was going to create a kind of heaven on Earth for the animals and that the animals have been betrayed. They have indeed been betrayed but it's not really news! What this story does is divert our attention and keep us focussed on the illusion they call democracy. One AR group forwarded the story to their email list renaming it The death sentence for animals under a Tory government. This is a typical train of thought, but what is the truth? Have animal rights suffered a telling blow?

It was under the 'Opposition' Labour party that we were taken into multiple never ending wars causing millions of innocent lives to be violently extinguished, both human and animal. They killed the brave and uncompromising Barry Horne while he struggled valiantly and suffered terribly in his prison cell while trying to get them to hold the public inquiry they promised and which so many of us demand of vivisection. Labour backed the 1986 Animals (Scientific Procedures) Bill which was sold as the saviour of the lab animals but instead, as predicted, it made matters even worse. They introduced the Terrorism Act and a raft of other legislation specifically aimed at animal rights campaigners. They arrested animal rights people for giving out leaflets on the street. They failed to end hunting as they promised prior the 1997 election and have instead since persecuted hunt monitors and hunt saboteurs mercilessly. Remember what they did to Brain Griffiths and Steve Christmas and the hunt thugs who attacked them?

Such is the depth of contempt for the animals and their advocates that come the 2010 election they were once again teasing the animal vote by pledging to enforce the hunt ban if re elected, something which they went out of their way to avoid doing during previous terms in office! They promised to abolish the LD50 test, to ban tobacco, alcohol and weapons tests and experiments on primates. They forged ahead with nuclear and GM and took us into the bowels of the EU fascist dictatorship. They cynically saved the criminal HLS from going bankrupt with tax payers' money in 2001 causing 500 animals to die there every single day since. They ensured the grotesque Oxford animal laboratory was opened. Remember what they did to Mel Broughton? They oversaw and covered up the murder of weapons inspector David Kelly and the London tube bombings. If you have a conscience the full list is utterly sickening. Just how many animals did they help in thirteen years? Far less than the average committed activist can save in one day. Prior to doing nothing they condemned the Tories for doing nothing!

Even if it were true that Labour cared about animal rights as this front page headline indicates and which most of the population will have digested, the fine detail of what they had planned for the animals is revealing. The article makes five key points.

Issue: Keeping of game birds such as pheasants in cages.

Labour may have one day introduced a 'Code of Practice' for the bird blasters to consider not caging for the first few months of their life young birds reared for shooting. Or they may not have introduced it but this is still a spineless document that essentially legitimises an industry dedicated to producing millions of birds every year to blast out of the sky. According to page 1 of DEFRA's proposed Code of Practice of July 2010: “Failure to comply with a provision of this Code shall not of itself render you liable to proceedings of any kind.” Meaningful stuff eh! The outcome being there are just as many dead and injured birds crashing from the sky then as now. Hardly conducive with giving them their rights!

Issue: Use of performing wild animals such as tigers and elephants.

The Labour minister said that if they were re elected for a fourth term he was "minded" consider banning the last few circuses from using wild animals (four of them have around 40 animals behind bars). This after failing to act for the previous 13 years. How many of us were teased by this distant hope of some small incremental change to the wholly oppressed animal kingdom and gave our vote of approval to the system so cruel? Conclusion: Inconclusive but on the evidence unlikely to change anything for either the increasing number of non wild animals used in circuses or the remaining wild ones.

Issue: Cruelty against pigs, sheep and cattle by abattoir workers.

There are 350+ slaughterhouses in the UK each one inflicting the most terrifying cruelty on infant and adult animals. Pregnant cows, unwanted infant dairy calves, eight month old lambs by the million, chickens too many to count and huge bulls. There are horses and pigs by the truck load all acutely aware of their fate as they are crammed into the slaughterhouse death chamber for a few hours after arrival before they are lined up for the shackles and knifes, so terrified that the whites of their eyes bulge and they shit themselves. This is real terror on mass scale!

The 'animal rights minded' Labour government had reluctantly allowed the early stages of a prosecution of four slaughterhouses over extracurricular cruelty caught graphically on film by an innovative animal rights group, two of which were soil association approved! Such scenes are widespread in slaughterhouses. The prosecutions have now been stopped under the blue team. We are told they would likely fail because the legal system that protects the status quo disapproves of footage obtained covertly. The same system exists whoever is in power. Had these cases gone to court the impact on the lives and deaths of 500 million animals annually led to their brutal premature and unnecessary end would have meant diddly squat. Let's face it the system does not punish for such crimes. To add cameras to the killing room which may be monitored by some unmotivated government official or meat industry worker is no solution to such a desperate situation. Have we also forgotten how often these cameras 'malfunction' or the footage becomes 'lost' when it matters? All the time! This prosecution was not about animal rights and there is no desire to protect animal rights. The conclusion: 500 million dead animals. No change there then.

Issue: Spread of bovine TB from wild badgers to cattle

More deception. Instead of the proposed badger kill we are told that Labour would have vaccinated infected badger populations against TB instead. But nearly 3000 of them were trapped and killed under Labour, at a cost of £35,000 each one.

Vaccines are produced by murderous drug companies and are notoriously ineffective and a very real threat to health as seen here: Vaccination True Stories and Vaccination Articles. It's clear there is insufficient independent evidence to support any idea that vaccine manufacturers have served the greater good with these or assorted chemical products.

The jury is still out after 40 years over the question of how badgers are passing a respiratory lung infection to cows. Badgers turning over soggy cow pats looking for dung beetles and breathing in the infection being a simple way for them to catch TB from cows. It's origin is likely the unnatural cattle husbandry and herd movements. While the science and the dairy industry haven't managed to figure it out some experts are in no doubt that “cattle are the MAIN reservoir and transmission is 99-100% cow to cow (and spillover to badgers and deer etc” Or how about the £49 million Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB report on badger culling which concludes that the main source of infection is transmission not from badgers to cattle, but from cattle to cattle.

The honest data makes clear that regional badger eradication would make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain and clearly some eradication policies under consideration would make matters a great deal worse. With farmers clamouring to be licensed to shoot badgers on their land in some cost cutting quick fix massacre that their friends in government favour, there may be a silver lining in this whole sorry saga. Badgers would not be targeted in any coherent way by the gunmen and family groups split forcing animals to disperse further afield, potentially spreading the disease more rapidly than it currently is and ultimately destroying the very industry these lunatics think they are saving! The irony of it.

A costly vaccine would be a nice little earner for some drug company supplying it which may harm the badgers sooner or later and which would of course fail to save the precious dairy industry from self inflicted TB without drastic changes to their modus operandi. So even if some government minister could be trusted the badgers would be blamed again and killed either by animal farmers or the government. Conclusion lots of dead cows and lots of dead badgers. As was.

Issue: Mutilation of laying hens.

The top of the beak is sliced off with a hot blade: 20 million hens were confined to cramped battery cages throughout Labour's tenure each one suffering extreme cruelty every day of their short lives. Labour did nothing to ensure the industry prepared for the end of beak trimming. This necessarily means removing the cause of the cannibalism - the factory farming of millions of birds - which they were not bothered to do. They will continue to have their beaks trimmed so the damage they do to each other is minimised and saved for the slaughter men to inflict. The score: Under the red team 20 million dead birds with trimmed beaks, under the blue team same.

The Labour reign was a disaster for those of us seeking progress and it always will if our belief that the mentality that got us into the mess can get us out of it. Yet in response to the election of the Tories and this media version of events, some animal rights activists have reacted with campaign calls to return the Labour Party to power in order to save the animals! What a tragedy! If they will betray the animals that have no vote then what hope do the rest of us have?

The nature of the beast that rules our lives is such that positive change cannot ever come if we continue with our self destructive impulse to feed it with our energy. Until we fully realise that the bad guys manage both teams for the benefit of our entertainment, and we adapt our efforts accordingly, everything we hold dear and dream about will go the way of politicians' pledges. We are being played in a game. Labour don't care for animals any more than the rest of them, they just pretend to (and not very hard at that) in order to control the hopes and dreams of the animal lovers. This is a system built on chaotic cruelty and greed and as long as we shore it up with our approval and our resources and our votes we will only slowly advance our cause, while helping the enemy gain a greater foothold on all our lives.

How we deal with our changing world is up to each of us – hopefully united - but burying our heads in the sand and seeking the return of the other apparently slightly less awful bunch of lying thieving bastards of the real evil which hides in the shadows and controls what we see and hear is not an answer.

What we need is a sweeping change in attitude towards all living beings. What neither we nor the animals need is some forlorn hope that in a few years time a front man for the control system might possibly become a hero of the animal rights movement and provide some window dressing to an aspect of the institutionalised violence. What the animal rights movement needs is to distance itself from calls for CCTV in slaughterhouses. We've always uncovered the best footage from these places. Persistent and widespread distribution of that footage is all that's missing and we wont get that from such a proposal. This is where we come in. This is our moment. Our time to shine. It's down to us. Reacting with calls for the enemy of love and compassion - government - to do something meaningless after the event smacks of defeatism.

While seeking animal rights we must stop falling into the trap of believing that the lesser evil is the way forward. It is not. Evil does not give animals' rights. Nor do we call for less cruelty in mechanised intensive egg extraction systems and do not ask Big Pharma to inject its animal tested concoctions into wild mammals. Otherwise it's animal abuse and we oppose that. We are the future of this planet and the rules are changing according to the laws of nature not according to the media or the politicians.

by Keith Mann (14 November 2010)

The Independent Saturday 13 November 2010 : The Great Animal Rights Betrayal

Government scraps protection for hens, game birds, pigs, cows, sheep – and circus animals.

Millions of hens have part of their beaks sliced off to stop them pecking at each other in confined units, but campaigners say there is no need for this if flocks are well managed.

The delay in the beak-trimming ban emerged in a press statement headed "New safeguards for chickens", which hailed the introduction of a limit on overcrowding of meat chickens which will have little impact. The RSPCA said it was "extremely disappointed" by the decision, describing beak trimming as "an insult to hens' welfare".
Another policy reversal, affecting hundreds of thousands of game birds, was taken following lobbying from the Countryside Alliance and other shooting groups. Mr Paice rewrote the new game-bird farming welfare code to remove a ban on keeping them in cages.

In an additional move, the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) halted a series of prosecutions of abattoir operators based on secret footage which caught slaughterhouse workers kicking cattle, pigs and sheep. Tim Smith, head of the Food Standards Agency, which enforces slaughterhouse standards, said of the images: "The cruelty on show is the worst I have seen." Defra said the prosecutions would have failed because the footage had been obtained by trespass. Animal Aid, which shot the film, described the decision as "political".

Furthermore, the Government is reducing the presence of official veterinarians at livestock markets, to the concern of the British Veterinary Association. According to the BVA, Mr Paice has also expressed doubt over plans compulsorily to label kosher and halal meat from animals killed without being stunned.

Defra has been stalling on a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, which Labour indicated in March it would introduce, keeping 40 tigers, elephants, zebras and other animals performing tricks. Defra says it will announce its plans "later in the autumn".

Mr Paice again pleased farmers and angered welfare groups by overturning Labour's opposition to a badger cull and proposing farmers trap or shoot the protected mammal in order to curb the spread of bovine TB, which can be spread by badgers. He downgraded a research programme into vaccination, an alternative method of controlling the disease that killed 25,000 cattle last year. A cull is likely to provoke widespread protests.

Another Conservative proposal – to hold a free vote on overturning the ban on fox hunting – will be fiercely opposed.

Current concern, however, is greatest about the U-turns on farm animals because of the huge numbers involved. While there are no authoritative figures, the proposed game-bird cage ban would have improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of the 40 million game birds bred annually for shooting. Beak trimming is estimated to take place on 20 million of the UK's 29 million laying flock. Tabling plans to limit the keeping of broiler chickens to 39kg per square metre, a more crowded level than the industry's basic standard of 38kg, Defra revealed it would ban trimming by hot blades but allow the less brutal but still painful infra-red method.

The Government's vets on the Farm Animal Welfare Council had recommended allowing infra-red trimming because of the egg industry's failure to prepare for the ban, which had been scheduled for eight years.

Compassion in World Farming was "deeply disappointed" by the decision. Its chief policy adviser, Peter Stevenson, said: "It is frustrating that the egg industry has not managed to meet the 2011 deadline. At the same time as the British industry has been failing to phase out beak trimming, the Austrian industry has successfully reduced the practice so that now less than 2 per cent of hens are beak trimmed."

Animal Aid's campaign manager Kate Fowler said: "The Coalition Government has wasted no time in removing a raft of popular measures that provided important protection for farmed and wild animals.

"It seems the Lib Dems can't or won't rein in the Tories. The commitment to repealing the Hunting Act is the most high profile part of the Government's anti-animal welfare package. But badgers, animals at markets, game birds and animals in circuses are also under threat. As for slaughterhouse cruelty, if this Government's vets can't or won't take action and the Government won't prosecute, then there is no one to stop slaughterhouses becoming a free-for-all."

Mr Paice said: "These comments are surprising and disappointing. Cutting bureaucracy doesn't equate to poorer welfare for animals – we listen to expert groups and always base decisions on robust scientific evidence, including that of the Farm Animal Welfare Council. As far as bovine TB is concerned, these groups appear to ignore the welfare of cattle."

The Betrayals

Game Birds - Issue: Keeping of game birds such as pheasants in cages. - Number of animals: affected Hundreds of thousands.

Last government policy: In one of its last acts in power, on 15 March 2010, Labour introduced a new Code of Practice for "game bird" production which in effect would have banned the use of battery cages for breeding pheasants within months.

What the Coalition has done: Animal Welfare minister James Paice withdrew the code and replaced it with a new version which allowed "enriched" cages to remain. The decision followed lobbying from shooting organisations, such as the Countryside Alliance and the Game Farmers' Association.

RSPCA comment: "The RSPCA is concerned that the Government has overturned expert recommendations against the use of cages to breed game birds in England. The Society is calling for proper scientific research to establish how to best meet the birds' needs under Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act. In the meantime, the aim is to persuade the industry to act in accordance with the scientific principles of welfare and avoid using cages."

Circus Animals - Issue: Use of performing wild animals such as tigers and elephants.

How many animals affected: Around 40. Four British circuses use wild animals: the Great British Circus, which has tigers, lions, camels and zebras; Peter Jolly's Circus (camels, zebras, snakes and crocodiles); Circus Mondao (camels and zebras); and Bobby Roberts Circus (camels and elephant).

What was going to happen?: On 25 March 2010, Labour's environment minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, said he was "minded" to ban performing wild animals after research showed that 94 per cent of the public supported a ban.

What the Coalition has done: The Coalition said it was considering whether to proceed and would announce its position "in the autumn". James Paice told the Commons he was sympathetic to a ban but said his colleague Lord Henley was mulling over issues.

RSPCA comment: "The RSPCA believes the circus is no place for a wild animal. It does not believe that wild animals should be subjected to the confinement, constant transportation and abnormal social groups associated with circus life. The UK Government promised three years ago that wild animals in travelling circuses would be banned – yet lions, tigers, elephants and other animals still tour the UK. We want to see the urgent introduction of regulations under the Animal Welfare Act."

Slaughterhouse Cruelty - Issue: Cruelty against pigs, sheep and cattle by abattoir workers. - Number of animals affected: 29 million.

What was going to happen?: Prosecutions had been started against four operators at five abattoirs, and nine workers, following an undercover investigation by an animal welfare charity, Animal Aid. It found poor conditions at six of seven slaughterhouses it investigated between January 2009 and April 2010: footage showed animals being kicked, slapped, stamped, and picked up by fleeces and ears and thrown into stunning pens. Some sheep had their throats cut while not properly stunned.

What the Coalition has done: The Department for Food and Rural Affairs dropped the prosecutions, saying it had become aware of legal precedents where courts had refused to accept "unlawfully obtained video footage". Instead, the Food Standards Agency has asked the 370 slaughterhouses in England and Wales to install CCTV cameras.

RSPCA comment: The RSPCA does not wish to comment on specific court cases.

Badger Cull - Issue: Spread of bovine TB from wild badgers to cattle. - How many animals affected: 6,000 badgers could be killed in the first year.

What was going to happen: In July 2008, the then Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, ruled out a cull, saying a cull would worsen rates of bovine TB outside of culling areas. Instead he committed £20m more into trials of a vaccination programme for badgers in six areas.

What the Coalition has done: Proposed that farmers in areas of heavy TB infestation cull badgers by cage-trapping and shooting them, or by "free shooting" as animals emerge from their setts. It has scaled back trial vaccinations to one area.

RSPCA comment: "On the basis of the current science, welfare concerns and practicality, any decision for a widespread cull of badgers would be totally unacceptable. Farmers or any non-statutory agency carrying out a cull... would make the welfare issues involved in killing badgers worse. It would be near impossible to police or monitor such a cull and could make enforcement of the Protection of Badgers Act very difficult."

Beak Trimming - Issue: Mutilation of laying hens. - Number of animals affected: 20 million.

What was going to happen?: Labour decided to end beak trimming, which is carried out to prevent laying hens pecking and cannibalising each other in cramped battery cages. A ban enacted eight years ago was due to come into force on 1 January 2011.

What the Coalition has done: After the egg industry said it was not prepared for the end of beak trimming, the Coalition will delay a complete ban by at least five years, until 2016. Instead, the Government banned trimming with hot blades and allowed another technology which still causes pain – infra-red.

RSPCA comment: "The RSPCA is extremely disappointed that no specific date has been set for a ban on beak trimming for laying hens. The mutilation of all livestock is undesirable."

From Dusk 'til Dawn
An Insider's View of the Growth of the Animal Liberation Movement

© Keith Mann