UKIP pledges to ban religious slaughter in UK
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Thursday February 05 2015
“We see no reason why religious groups should not take into account the concerns of animal welfare when carrying out slaughter.
“We find the government response to this issue is weak, lazy and bordering on spineless. It says it would “prefer” animals to be stunned before slaughter but that it must “respect the rights of Jewish and Muslim communities to eat meat in accordance with their beliefs.”
“It’s about time someone stood up for the rights of the silent majority in the ethical treatment of animals instead of bowing down to those who shout the loudest.”
The animal welfare issue cropped up earlier this week with the release of secret footage filmed at an abattoir in Yorkshire showing slaughtermen mishandling and abusing animals and neglecting regulations on animal slaughter.
UKIP in its statement said that the party would “write into law that all animal meat produce will have mandatory labelling – providing clearly both the method of production and slaughter – giving people greater transparency and choice.
“UKIP’s forthcoming manifesto on animal welfare will be the strongest of any major political party in the UK.”
The Financial Times adds that the party’s agriculture spokesman and MEP, Stewart Agnew, said that the party’s policy was “aimed elsewhere” and that British Jews would be “caught in the crossfire”.
The issue of religious slaughter has, in the media certainly, been largely framed as a concern for consumers of halal meat although it is kosher methods which absolutely prohibit stunning (many Muslim consumers abide by pre-stunning of animals before a cut with a blade thereby qualifying as “stunned” slaughter).
UKIP’s stance of aiming its policy at Muslims, though Agnew was careful not to spell this out quite so explicitly, will come as little surprise given that the party went into the 2010 general election with the aim of banning the burqa. That few Muslim women in the UK wear the garment made little difference to the party which, under the leadership of Lord Pearson of Rannoch, thought it important enough to form its election campaign around.
The Jewish Chronicle relates the words spoken by party leader, Nigel Farage, at an event hosted by the paper where he said, ““Even if 71 per cent of Ukip supporters are not comfortable with religious slaughter — perhaps because they come from a different background and it’s not their thing — that’s different to saying to your community ‘you can’t do it’.”
Agnew affirmed that the party’s position supporting a ban would lose it the Jewish vote. But it would seem the party has bargained on Muslims and Jews being inconsequential to the votes to be gathered elsewhere with Agnew adding that “[W]e might gain votes elsewhere – and that’s what they’re after, general election votes.”
The Independent yesterday returned to the topic, which was front page news in the paper on Tuesday, with claims that the “Government is under mounting pressure from MPs, vets, and animal welfare campaigners to ban religious slaughter”.
The paper cites the views of a number of MPs responding to the video footage captured at the Bowood Lambs abattoir in Yorkshire. Neil Parish MP, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on animal welfare, told the paper that an outright ban on halal and kosher slaughter practices “would not improve the welfare of animals at the point of slaughter” because “Driving our halal meat industry abroad to countries without our robust animal welfare standards and our supply chain traceability might result in more animals being slaughtered without stunning.”
And Conservative MP Henry Smith, who opened a debate in the Commons on Tuesday calling for CCTV in slaughterhouses, told the paper, “It is about ensuring an ‘independent eye’ exists to help prevent animal abuse.”
The Muslim Council of Britain has added its voice in support of CCTV in slaughterhouses, something the latest Food Standards Agency reports suggests is being picked up gradually around the country.