Anne Marie Waters
Sunday July 26th 2020
On Monday morning, July 27th at 4 am, I will set out on a trip to Ramsgate in Kent. I will attend my first protest against the live export of animals, and I won’t be alone. Live exports are extremely cruel and all the moreso because they are so appallingly unnecessary.
There is absolutely no good reason why animals cannot be slaughtered prior to transport, or indeed why animals can’t be raised and slaughtered where they are to be consumed. This agonising journey is pointless, and For Britain vows to bring it to an end.
Public feeling is strong on this, as it is on issues related to animal cruelty in general. The British public knows that animals are sentient and therefore capable of great suffering, and the British public sympathises with the animal and is willing to politically support measures to end cruelty.
The politicians have picked up on this, with the Tories promising to bring it to an end post-Brexit. But let’s be clear, the Tories have been power for what feels like an age. Power drifts between Labour and Tory with the Conservatives enjoying the lion’s share. They’ve done little to nothing about animal welfare in all those years, so why trust them now?
(If you need another reason not to trust the Tories, have a look at the high levels of illegal immigration taking place).
Besides, the Tories are only proposing to end “excessively long” journeys. Who will determine that? Answer: nobody, because it isn’t going to happen. The Conservatives will not deal with this.
Of course, nor will Labour, even though they also say they will ban live exports. Isn’t it curious that the two parties who share power suddenly find resolute determination to tackle an issue when they realise where public opinion is, but have never cared about the issue previously, and did nothing to tackle it while in power?
Even the governing party is determined to do it (apparently), so what’s the hold up? They have absolutely no intention of doing anything, that’s the hold up.
Across the world, feelings on this run very high. In Australia for example, 3 out of 4 people support banning live exports, and yet, it continues on the spurious grounds that “if we don’t do it, someone else will, and they won’t be as kind to the animals as we are”. This disingenuous defence of the practice, described here, furthermore dismisses 3 quarters of Australians as “fanatics” for wanting it banned.
This argument makes a rather strange assumption: that the Australian method is not cruel, and others will be crueller. But cruelty is cruelty, and do we judge ourselves by the standards of the third world or oppressive communist states or Islamic states? Aren’t we supposed to be better than them?
We used to be, but then globalism came and money became king while Western standards and ethics were thrown straight in the bin as we lowered ourselves to disgusting behaviour in order to trade with countries immersed in disgusting behaviour. They’ve dragged us down, we haven’t lifted them up. We don’t have the belief in our morals and ethics necessary to do so. That’s the number one thing that must change.
Australia is an interesting case in point on this issue, so let’s stay there for the moment.
The Australian RSPCA appears to be just as “fanatical” about live export as three quarters of the population. Here is its position full:
Farm animals exported from Australia face journeys of up to five weeks from the farm gate to their overseas destination. Prevailing weather conditions and requirements of the importing country can considerably increase the length of the journey. Voyages can subject animals to extreme changes in temperature and humidity, especially during the Middle Eastern summer. The main welfare concerns relate to:
- transport, handling and holding prior to embarkation
- stocking densities that prevent animals from comfortably lying down or accessing food and water
- the conditions animals experience onboard ships, which often result in inanition (failure to eat), salmonellosis, heat stress, pneumonia, and high mortality rates
- extreme changes in climatic conditions from the farm of origin to the importing country
- inadequate contingency planning for when animals are rejected at the ports of importing countries
- poor handling and inhumane slaughter practices in the importing countries.
The RSPCA has long maintained that livestock should be slaughtered as close as possible to the point of production to reduce the stress associated with their transport. The trade in live farm animals from Australia, which requires transporting millions of animals over thousands of kilometres on arduous journeys which can last several weeks, could not be further from this principle.
The justification that ‘other countries are crueller’ simply does not hold any water. In fact, it is the treatment of live animals in receiving countries that provide the greatest reason to stop exporting them.
The animals suffer terribly, and almost all animal welfare charities and organisations agree.
Compassion in World Farming thoroughly opposes live export as unnecessary and cruel. It too expresses concern about what country will be receiving the animals and how they will be treated. If only meat were transported, as the RSPCA demands, then the animal can’t suffer any further when they reach their destination.
In the UK, a poll by Farmer’s Weekly showed that 91% of readers believe live export should be banned – this is despite the fact that the article to which the poll was posted, was in favour of the practice. The readers overwhelmingly disagreed with the writer.
What happens when the animals reach their destination is of crucial importance, and relates to the coming protest in Ramsgate; religious slaughter.
Religious (or ritual) slaughter is the slaughter of an animal while it is fully conscious and alert. It includes both halal (Islamic) and kosher (Jewish) slaughter practices (however the halal market is far larger and its products imposed upon the public in general; kosher is not imposed in public places and there have been no demands for this to change).
There is a vast amount of information about religious slaughter here. For Britain has campaigned to have it banned in the UK and we will continue to.
As is the case for live export, the arguments in favour of religious slaughter quite simply amount to lies and obfuscation. There are two main points put forward: 1) animals suffer less under religious slaughter, and 2) to prevent it would be an infringement of religious liberty. Let’s look at these in detail.
The first argument is a lie so large that people will believe it. It’s a similar concept to hiding in plain sight; do something wrong and then just stay where you are, everyone will assume it wasn’t you because if it was, you would have run away or hidden.
The same principle applies – tell an enormous lie and people will assume you’re telling the truth because the lie is just bizarre: “Surely nobody would make that up, they’d never get away with it” is the thinking, and the irony is that this thinking is exactly how they get away with it.
The first argument is essentially this: animals who are slaughtered while they are unconscious suffer more than animals who are slaughtered while they are conscious. Every part of us knows this isn’t true.
Think about it for a moment; how can it possibly be better to feel the full pain of having your throat cut versus not feeling anything at all?
Many animal welfare organisations (though by no means all) see through this lie and are not afraid to point it out. The UK’s RSPCA is firmly against it:
We’re opposed to the slaughter of any animal without first ensuring it is rendered insensible to pain and distress.
We therefore believe that all animals should be stunned prior to slaughter. Evidence clearly indicates that slaughter without pre-stunning can cause unnecessary suffering.
PETA makes a fairly obvious statement on the matter: any fully conscious animal is absolutely and understandably terrified when a chain is shackled to their leg and they’re hoisted into the air upside down.
The Farm Animal Welfare Council reported in 2003: “Such a drastic cut [of a conscious animal’s throat] will inevitably trigger a barrage of sensory information to the brain in a sensible (conscious) animal… such a massive injury would result in very significant pain and distress in the period before insensibility supervenes.”
The same year, the EU Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) stated: “Cuts which are used in order that rapid bleeding occurs involve substantial tissue damage in areas well-supplied with pain receptors. The rapid decrease in blood pressure which follows the blood loss is readily detected by the conscious animal and elicits fear and panic. Poor welfare also results when conscious animals inhale blood because of bleeding into the trachea.”
If you need any further convincing, take a look at this video (graphic) and ask yourself if these animals would suffer more if they were unconscious and unaware.
That’s how big the lie is!
Religious slaughter is not something that politicians are even pretending to care about however. There have been one or two MPs over the years who have brought it up, only to be dismissed. When Philip Bone MP simply asked that the meat be labelled as halal or kosher, fellow MPs wouldn’t entertain it.
They know that if they did, they would probably be accused of ‘racism’ or ‘bigotry’ and very few (if any) have the moral fortitude to stand up to such accusations, so the animals continue to suffer. One MP is reported to have said antisemitism and Islamophobia are the real motives. Once again people who are concerned about animals are told that we are not concerned about animals at all, by people who apparently know our hearts and minds better than we do. This of course is a disgusting political tactic; imply someone is a racist and that’s that. Debate over. They have no comeback.
The religious freedom argument furthermore has no standing. It is the religious and philosophical freedom of people who don’t want unstunned slaughter that has really been infringed. In refusing to even label it, MPs have removed the religious freedom of Christians, Sikhs and Hindus – none of whom are religiously permitted to eat this meat. Non-religious people with ethical objections to this cruelty are also ignored (or labelled ‘racist’). So much for freedom!
The argument is a complete whitewash, another lie. Religious freedom is not absolute, and politicians know this. It is balanced against other interests and religions have been expected to change their practices before, without the sky caving in. In fact, Denmark and Belgium have both completely banned religious slaughter. They still manage to function perfectly well, and so can the rest of us.
So what does all of this have to do with our upcoming protest at Ramsgate? The animals being exported this week are being sent for religious slaughter as the blootbath of Eid al Adha fast approaches.
There are two annual Eid festivals in Islam; one is Eid al Fitr which took place earlier in the year. The other is Eid al Adha – the festival of sacrifice. This does not refer to personal sacrifice for the benefit of others, or any such noble aspiration, it means the sacrifice of animals painfully and slowly. It will happen here in the UK just as it will in the Middle East. To see pictures and descriptions of the bloodbath of Eid al Adha, take a look here.
Do we still have morals in the West? Values? Ethics? What made us legislate to stun animals before slaughter in the first place? Ethics and standards, that’s what. Unstunned slaughter is outlawed in the UK, but unlike Belgium and Denmark, our politicians do not have the strength of character to make that law effective. Instead, we provide a religious exemption, making the entire thing completely meaningless.
This is cowardly and deceptive politics at its very worst. Clear away the smoke and mirrors and you’re left with cruelty and extreme suffering; that’s all there is to it.
Our ‘leaders’ do nothing because they no respect for our values. “Global trade” is the aim – always. If this means we lower our standards to those of the worst countries on earth, then our leaders have decided ‘so be it’.
I reject this entirely. We can and will thrive as a great nation, and we will do so with our values and ethics in tact. That is a fundamental aspect of what will make us a great nation once again.
The public is behind us on this, and we will continue to fight for moral and ethical standards on their behalf. Let us demand that other countries respect our values for a change, instead of constantly bowing down to theirs.
Anne Marie Waters
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