Green party

Justice is for animals too


By Dorienne Robinson


That the human race is in a constant state of change and development is undeniable. History and archaeology combine to show us a picture of primitive man growing slowly towards moral and spiritual enlightenment. What set of criteria can we effectively use to judge our progress along that road?

Initially it is the way in which we treat our fellow human beings. Not so very long ago it was basically accepted that the slave trade was not only a suitable industry to build the economies of London and Bristol on, but that in some strange way it was beneficial to those millions of slaves who passed through our ports on their way to plantations in America. They would be clothed and fed and encouraged to find God after all.

The slave was seen as being sub-human and therefore not worthy of crediting with any of the finer feelings of the cultured westerners.

It took a lot of courage and dedication on behalf of the abolitionists to open society's eyes to the abhorrence of that disgusting trade and to bring about its end.

Although human beings are still capable of acts of cruelty and oppression towards their fellows, these acts are seen for what they are and denounced by the civilised world as morally and socially unacceptable behaviour. And thus we have evolved another step.

However there are still atrocities being committed every day by our society on those among us who are seen as a sub-order, therefore subordinate and therefore exploitable. Those still suffering at our hands are the creatures that we share this planet with.

An ever-growing section of our society is calling into question our relationship with and the treatment of our fellow creatures. For this very reason the Labour Party in 1997 made pre-election promises based on issues like: tightening up the journey times for live exports - but a loophole meant this only applied to a few lorries - a Royal Commission on vivisection; an increase in the level of laboratory inspections; to forbid the use of animals in testing and in development of weapons; an immediate stop to badger culling. Not one of these promises has been kept. Now with an election looming they once again don the green mantle to seduce the potential green voter.

Here are some interesting facts and figures:-

In 1992 there were 2 million live exports
In 1997 there were 480,000
In 2000 there were 1.2 million
Showing an increase under the Labour Government.

In experiments on live animals it takes approximately 60 rats, 40 guinea pigs, 6 rabbits and 50 fish for each chemical tested.

Every year in Britain around 2.5 million animals are used in experiments. They are poisoned, scalded, infected with diseases, crippled, blinded, starved and brain damaged in the name of science. They are even used to test toxic chemicals, from oven cleaners to paint strippers.

Some 850 million animals are slaughtered every year in the UK for food. Most of these animals are farmed intensively, never breathing fresh air or seeing daylight. They are highly susceptible to disease and antibiotics are used routinely to suppress infection and promote growth. Pigs are slaughtered at 4-6 months, and broiler chickens at around 6 weeks. Their needs are ignored in the pursuit of profit.

Animals are capable of feeling physical pain and mental distress: they deserve to be treated with respect, and protected from cruelty. But today in Britain, their habitats are increasingly under threat, they are still used for 'entertainment' in circuses and zoos, and they are hunted, just for fun.

The Green Party believes that animals have the right to live in safety, without fear or pain caused by human exploitation. We seek a more peaceful world, where all life is respected and all cruelty challenged.

The Green Party would::-

  • Ban all animal experiments, replacing them with more reliable non- animal alternatives.
  • End factory farming, stop promoting factory farming abroad and work for a reduction in meat consumption.
  • We would also ban live exports, and the genetic manipulation of animals.
  • Protect habitats, ban bloodsports and end badger culling.
  • We would ban the use of animals in circuses and abolish zoos.

Believing that animals have rights doesn't mean that we put animals' needs ahead of our own. We believe that animals are worthy of respect. That human beings do not have the right to use and abuse animals for their own gain, any more than we have the right to use or abuse each other.

And if you would indulge me I would like to end with three of my favourite quotes:-

"While we are ourselves the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?" George Bernard Shaw

"I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and a time will come when men such as I will look upon murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men". Leonardo de Vinci

And finally:-

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals". Mahatma Gandhi.

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