Compassionate Conservatives?

1) The Council is responsible for licensing all zoos in its area under the provisions of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981. The Act requires regular formal inspection of zoos by a team, including three external inspectors, one being directly appointed by the local authority and two from the Secretary of State’s list of persons deemed competent to inspect zoos. All are qualified veterinarians with special expertise in the treatment and welfare of zoo animals.

2) The Council will ensure that the formal inspection covers all features of the zoo, which are directly or indirectly relevant to the health, welfare and safety of both the visiting public and the animals. The inspection shall have regard to the latest version of the Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice, which requires zoos to contribute in as many ways as possible to the education of visitors.
Angela Smith is the Labour MP for Basildon & East Thurrock.

If we want to keep wild animals safe from hunts, we must first keep David Cameron and his Conservatives out of power.

Mahatma Ghandi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way that its animals are treated”. If Ghandi was right, before 2004 Britain was well behind on its moral progress, and if the Conservatives win the next election, we could go back there.

The Hunting Ban of 2004 outlawed the cruel, barbaric and backward ‘sport’ of hunting with hounds, and the terrible suffering and injuries that it brings to foxes, deer, hares and other hunted animals. From the very beginning those against the ban argued that it was confusing, illiberal, divisive and un-enforceable. Despite the convictions that the ban has brought, and public opinion remaining weighted against them (in an Ipsos-MORI poll this year 7 out of 10 people wanted hunting to remain illegal), these excuses are still being used to argue for a repeal of the ban. Importantly, more people support the ban than oppose it across all the main political parties – a fact Cameron would be wise to note.

The reality is that the Hunting Act is enforceable – a fact demonstrated by the mounting number of successful prosecutions (28 to date with more in the pipeline). Hunt monitors from groups such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the League against Cruel Sports are working with police forces to ensure the law is obeyed. It is now the responsibility of the police to ensure that the law is enforced – something we can encourage every Chief Constable in the country to do.

Whilst most reasonable people believe the hunting community should move on, it is apparent that they will not give up quietly and are running a highly political campaign to re-instate their cruel sport. David Cameron is being backed by pro-hunt campaigners in the hope that he will lead a campaign to repeal the ban. The pressure group ‘Vote-OK’ which declares it is “Putting the people back into politics” is seen as a front of the hunting campaign. The group proudly proclaims “29 anti-hunting MPs ousted thanks to Vote-OK” at the last election. Followers of this organisation canvass for the Conservative Party at local and national elections and their actions may have been crucial in some marginal constituencies. In the recent Henley by-election, Vote-OK supporters boasted of helping the Conservatives to victory and there were an estimated 300 supporters working in Crewe and Nantwich. It seems as though the group is building up “favours” to be repaid should the Tories regain power.

Will David Cameron re-pay that favour? On 1st May 2007 he said, “We’d give MPs a free vote on the hunting ban, and if the vote went through, there’ll be a Government Bill to get rid of it. I mean, my own view is that the ban isn’t working. It’s a farce really.”

In the past Cameron has ridden with his local hunt at least six times (the leader of Mr Cameron’s local hunt is Julian Barnfield, who was one of the first people to be charged with hunting illegally and who is working closely with Cameron’s father-in-law on the Countryside Alliance’s repeal committee.) Cameron himself was quoted in an article four years ago describing his thrill of chasing a fox on a “powerful steed”, and on another occasion describing the Ban as “bonkers”. Surely the bonkers decision would be for a Conservative Government to repeal a law that the majority of voters, including most Tories, support?

Banning hunting was a Labour manifesto pledge, and ranks as one of the Government’s most notable achievements over the past decade. It is clear that only Labour can be trusted to enforce the current law and to protect wildlife from barbaric ‘traditions’ in the long-term. I will leave the last word to David Harcombe, editor of the vitriolic pro-hunting journal “Earth Dog Running Dog”, “The Tories supported our struggle against the Hunting Ban, and they have promised us that they will repeal the law as soon as they are ever returned to power and that is the greatest prize any of those parties of perverts, paedophiles, liars and crooks are ever likely to offer us. Regular readers will know my views, I proudly support the British National Party and pray one day…they will sweep to power…in the mean-time go for the Tories”.

Do I need to say more?