Protecting Animals in Democracy

A one time hunt sab, I’m obviously delighted to hear that the ban on hunting will take effect from Friday and that the government’s 1997 promise that parliament would have its say has finally been honoured.

Fox hunting is only the highest profile animal rights issue, not the most important, on which New Labour has proved a disappointment. The Protecting Animals in Democracy campaign has highlighted many more issues on which New Labour has failed to honour its promises including the refusal to ban religious slaughter without stunning; failure to tackle factory farming or battery cages for hens; permitting horses to be exported abroad for slaughter; and failure to tackle the exotic pet trade. This kind of failure and disappointment (a sadly consistent theme of New Labour) drives the disillusioned to stuff like the Backing Blair campaign, which has quickly revealed itself to be less than honest with obviously false claims of a government / Labour Party denial-of-service attack on its website.

Yet PAD isn’t giving up on politics like Backing Blair. It understands the importance of setting a forward looking agenda that demands something positive, rather than a simplistic call to ‘get rid of Blair’. PAD is analysing the parties’ and individual candidates’ records and commitments on animal issues and identifying the main contenders in constituencies across Britain. Tories rarely make promises PAD supporters like to hear, so they’ll inevitably support Labour and Lib Dem candidates as nobody else is likely to be identified as a main contender.

Yet, in truth, the Tories remain the only opposition party with the capacity to win a general election and are the most likely beneficiaries of Backing Blair. The ugly fox hunting debacle’s lesson is that, left alone, New Labour cannot be trusted to honour its promises, but it can be forced to if harassed effectively. The Backing Blair route guarantees failure not just on animal rights but across the board.
BackingBlair.co.uk… not exactly trustworthy……Fox hunting: parliament’s chance to be relevant……Pro-hunt barbarians at the gates……Fox hunters and the retreat into pop……On animal fashion, morality and suffering

4 thoughts on “Protecting Animals in Democracy

  1. The hunt-sab thing has me concerned. Surely you could have thought of a more constructive way to approach the problem than sabotaging hunts. Like maybe joining the hunt group and effecting change from within or perhaps campaigning in a *positive* way by suggesting a vegetarian alternative to fox-hunting. Like cherry-picking. I know where you can find one hell of an instructor.

  2. Why are so many people in this countrry so keen on banning things? We British are an incredibly intolerant lot. We’ve banned fox hunting, cannabis, going around unclothed, having two satellite dishes outside your home, painting your house a colour the neighbours don’t like, driving past other peoples houses at 21 mph (on some streets), pistol shooting, opening a brothel, being gay and publicly displaying affection, soliciting for sex, cchoolchildren have been banned for wearing clothes that are too revealing — and clothes that are too modest hair that’s too long and hair that’s too short…

    Now the government is considering banning speech that offends religions. Why not go the whole hog and ban breathing?
    Reply: Isn’t the problem that with every right comes a responsibility and that when we exercise one right we all too often step on someone else’s toes? It’s a bit like what some economists call externalities: an economic activity can impose costs on third parties (e.g. pollution). That doesn’t necessarily mean that religious leaders should be able to ban blasphemy; free speech should have priority (although not so long ago it would have been the other way around). And here lies the answer: we are constantly negotiating and re-negotiating a hierarchy of rights. This hierarchy varies wildly between societies: Pitcairn Islanders apparently see nothing wrong with child abuse, for example.
    On fox hunting, the battle is between the pleasure one set of people get from hunting and torturing animals and those animals’ rights not be tortured for pleasure (admittedly a right we grant rather than one they claim for themselves, but that what makes us better than animals).

  3. “”"Isn?t the problem that with every right comes a responsibility and that when we exercise one right we all too often step on someone else?s toes?”"”

    True. That’s why one should have the automatic right to do anything that doesn’t harm others, but no automatic right to do things that do harm others.
    Reply: Harm is just one of many externalities that can emerge as by-products of an action. Harm is cited as the reason for banning smoking in public places. You’ll find I disagree with that over here on the basis that this harm is an externality than can be costed and factored into the market through taxation and subsidy. This route removes the need for a ban. Like any other externality, the degree of harm we’re prepared to tolerate has to be negotiated. For example, every car driver pollutes the atmosphere, but we tolerate that harm.

    “”"On fox hunting, the battle is between the pleasure one set of people get from hunting and torturing animals and those animals? rights not be tortured for pleasure (admittedly a right we grant rather than one they claim for themselves”"”

    This is why I don’t think it makes sense to say animal have rights: they don’t understand what rights are, and they have no conception of the responsibilities that go with them. One might as well give rights to plants, or bricks, or stones.
    Reply: The animal’s ability to understand its rights isn’t relevantif you agree that suffering is wrong and should be minimised. The animal’s actions do not bring about the suffering, so it could not be said to be responsible even if it were capable of comprehending. Bricks and stones, on the other hand, aren’t capable of suffering and so cannot be tortured for pleasure.

  4. Hi Stephen

    Was doing a google on our PAD project last night and your commentary came up. Good to see an interesting and thought out discussin of what we’re trying to do – thanks for the positive comments. We’ve now updated the site drastically specifically for the election campaign – with an effort at our own blog!

    Thanks
    Dan Lyons
    Head of Political Affairs
    Protecting Animals in Democracy
    9 Bailey Lane, Sheffield, S1 4EG

Leave a Reply