I’ve received the following standard petition, with the subject heading “Will you pledge to protect animals?”
On June 8th, like many millions of other people, my vote will be influenced by a desire to see Parliament better protect animals. I am writing to ask whether, if elected as my MP, you would be a positive voice for animals, both locally and in Westminster.
Specifically, I would like to ask if you are willing to pledge the commitments set out by leading animal protection groups at www.animalprotection2017.org.uk:
1. Defend animal protection laws and regulations, and to strengthen them where appropriate, including the Animal Welfare Act, the Hunting Act, the Protection of Badgers Act, the Wildlife and Countryside Act, and the Welfare of Farmed Animals regulations; and
2. Send a strong signal about your commitment to protecting animals by supporting the introduction of an official national database of convicted animal abusers, and an increase in animal cruelty sentences to up to 5 years in jail.
A Party’s policies for animals can be a good reflection of how it views vulnerable members of our society. I hope that you will commit to speaking out for those without a voice.
My response was as follows
I’ve been an animal lover since a very early age; I think probably starting with my first pet rabbit, but reinforced especially once I started fishing, as a young lad, a pastime which took me out into the country and gave me the great pleasure of quietly observing and interacting with farm animals and wildlife of many kinds – not just fish. As I have grown up, I have come to realise that all of creation is precious, and that mankind’s duty is to be good stewards. For example, my family always avoids eating food from intensively farmed livestock.
I am familiar with some of the legislation your campaign supports, I know of no objection to the Animal Welfare Act or the Welfare of Farmed Animals regulations and I think the Protection of Badgers Act is uncontroversial and widely supported. I strongly support the aims of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Perhaps you are aware that it is UKIP’s policy that all legislation deriving from EU directives will be retained in the first instance and only considered for repeal or revision subsequently. I don’t think it’s likely there will be any attempt in the foreseeable future to repeal or weaken animal protection legislation, and I can’t imagine my supporting any such attempt.
But the Hunting Act is different. I would certainly vote to repeal it. I think it is illiberal and counterproductive.
I suppose my reply will not please you. Thank you, nonetheless, for taking the trouble to contact me. One of my main concerns in this general election campaign is that politicians are failing to engage people, especially in Preston, and so I welcome interaction. I see that your email comes to me via a campaigning website, and I know that some MPs resent that (probably they get more email than me), but I’m very happy with it: perhaps you know that UKIP stands for more direct democracy.
I can assure you that my difference of opinion with your campaign is not because I don’t care. Animal welfare is very important to me.
People are welcome to contact me in this way; I’ll do my best to respond, whether or not I agree with the petitioners, and post my responses here, for all to see.