England: From the Dog’s Mouth – UK Elections May 2015.


dogs mouth

On 7th May 2015 the people of the UK have their opportunity to vote for a new government – http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/elections-and-voting/general/general-election-timetable-2015/

I (Mark) am an Englishman; and I am super proud to be able to say that here in the UK, I think we are a very animal welfare supportive nation.

Regardless of the state of the economy, the way in which people survive hardships at this current time; overseas (foreign) affairs; terrorism and the rest; the vast majority of people in the UK; the ‘man and woman on the street’ still very much care about animals in general and their welfare.

That is a great thing to say, but when you throw the subject of yet further improving issues of animal welfare to those in current government; why is this big ‘vote winning issue’ for many people simply discarded by them into the refuse sack of subjects like some rotten food discarded into the garbage?

Check this out – http://www.gkstrategy.com/mps-postbags-full-of-surprises/

It says:

“Remarkably – or perhaps not given the UK’s global reputation as animal lovers – animal welfare makes three entries in the top fourteen topics voters grill MPs on; the controversial badger culls came in fifth (ahead of child support in at six, and care of the elderly at seven), while animal research and experimentation peaked at number eight, and fox hunting at number fourteen. With a fifth of the list of top concerns being aligned to disputes typically associated with the Green Party, this research is rather encouraging for the environmentalist party,”

To me and many others here at home; and maybe in many of the other great nations around the globe, our individual attitudes to animals in need / distress are often quoted as “an indication of how civilised and compassionate a particular nation is” and also an indication of how people and organisations treat other people, particularly those who are individually or collectively more vulnerable or less fortunate than themselves.

General Elections, such as we are having here in the UK in May, and political Elections in general, wherever in the world they may be, are an opportunity for political parties and their potential candidates to show the common man what is at the core of their beliefs; their true values, as well as informing us all what they will specifically do in relation to ‘this or that’ if elected by us; the all important voters.

As an animal welfare campaigner with a few years (probably 35 or more ! – hmm) of experience under my belt; I think it would be fair to say as a generalisation, ‘Attitudes to animal welfare are an excellent way to promote and judge such important issues’.   Sadly; when it comes to government action and attitudes; you could say that they have drastically ‘lost the plot’ here.

Just to show once again, I will quote those figures from the GK poll unveiled by pollster Ipsos MORI (see link above) indicating the findings from their bi-yearly interviews with parliamentarians showcasing what topics MPs receive the most correspondence on.

Animal welfare makes three entries in the top fourteen topics:

  • badger culls came in fifth

  • animal research and experimentation peaked at number eight,

  • fox hunting came in at number fourteen.

Here is yet another point to consider:

  • 76% of people think people who treat animals badly are also more likely to treat people badly.

Here in the UK; a political party which would promise more action on animal welfare, which could for example include stricter rules in slaughterhouses; including the installation of cctv into ALL premises; or creating harsher penalties for people who cause suffering to pets such as dogs and cats; would lead to around six times the number of people forming a more favourable perception of any political candidate than people forming a less favourable perception.

Interesting eh ? – so are the politicians taking these poll factors on board ‘HMS General Election’ as they head for May 2015 ?

I think I can very clearly say here that regarding the issue of improvements supporting animals and their welfare; there is little on the horizon at present which will see any real changes. Instead, and as a generalisation; how do the governments of the day (currently a Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government) often view or brand us, ‘animal welfare people’ ?   – the term which is often banded about is, sadly and incorrectly, ‘terrorists’ / and or ‘animal rights’; nothing more or nothing less.  Regardless of the very many positive and excellent actions that most good animal welfare people take throughout any year, those in the ‘political elite’; who are often looking for particular hard hitting phrases, often simply ignore the term ‘welfare’ and instead prefer the term ‘animal rights activist(s)’.  To them, it creates a vision in grannies mind of a balaclava clad no-gooder; ready to strike out and cause distress for anything that he would pick on.  So Mr. Politician thinks and hopes that given enough of this jargon; granny will view the ‘mob’ as bad folk and go out and vote for the good man coming to her rescue; namely Mr. Politician.

Ok, take a look at the following video made for Jill (link following on a little); an English campaigner who died 20 years ago fighting to stop the disgusting live export of veal calves from the UK to mainland Europe – an issue I have been directly involved with for a very long time – 25 years or more.  Already at the time of Jill’s terrible death, the Conservative government of the UK at the time proudly boasted that ‘it had stopped baby calves from being crated’.  In the UK on our home soil that was very true; new legislation had actually stopped baby calves being separated from their mothers and being thrown into wooden crates for their short lives prior to becoming a veal steak.  An excellent positive for animal welfare.

I guess that you could say this was a positive move politically as well as for British baby calves; now liberated from the ghastly veal crate system.  But what was never said by the government of the day; and what really ‘stuck in the throat’ of tens of thousands of ‘normal’ British folk; getting them out onto the street to fight the export trade, was the very important fact that despite banning the veal crate here in the UK; the British Conservative government was still allowing British baby calves to be exported every day to mainland Europe; where they were then being thrown into wooden boxes called ‘veal crates’ for their very short lives !

calf export Dover_NEW

Above – British calves being exported from Kent ports to veal crates in Europe while UK politicians talk Yukspeak about how wonderful they were to ban the crate !

– Photo – Mark Johnson.

Below – a baby calf is placed into a European veal crate and restrained by the head.

This is what Jill died for – trying to stop this.

calf crate_NEW

The issue of banning veal crates in the UK was very good positive press for the government of the time – but; the real yukspeak; which they wanted to keep quiet with; and which bummed off the animal welfare lobby, was the fact that baby calves were then still being shipped abroad in their thousands to overseas crates ! – the very cruel thing which had been banned here !  – and it was continuing to take action against exports of British calves going to the crate systems of mainland Europe that resulted in the tragic, tragic death of a wonderful, compassionate girl named Jill; a girl who is still remembered across the UK every year on the anniversary of her death which happened 20 years ago this year.

As the Jill video (link following) declares right at the start;

“the thing that separates us from what we are (often) accused of, that of being terrorists; is that ‘we’ have killed no one”.  It’s a sad video; and still, some 20 years on; still brings a tear to my eyes.  Jill was nothing more than a young, beautiful, compassionate girl who wanted a better world – and if we had many like her today then the world would be a much better place – now; yesterday and tomorrow !


Things have not changed a great deal in the 20 years since Jill’s tragic death.  Some aspects of the British press still like to class ALL ‘animal welfare people’ as ‘animal rights extremists’.  I guess it makes good reading and sells newspapers for them.  Animal welfare and animal rights – what is the difference here ? – should not ‘good policies’ on the issue of the welfare of animals not then give them ‘certain rights’ in their short and often pitiful lives ? – the right to good treatment on the farm; the right to good standards during transport; and the right to have a death which involves as little suffering as there can be ?

Can someone with ‘political trousers on’ sit across the table and explain to me where is the real border line dividing an ‘animal welfare’ person from an ‘animal rights’ person.  Does good animal welfare not automatically introduce certain rights for animals ? – where is the dividing line in reality that separates the ‘welfare’ person from the ‘rights’ person ? – I think that any animal that is going to have to die for the meat eater should be provided with a life and death which involves as little pain, terror and suffering throughout as can be.  So, does the animal not have a ‘right’ to this also ? – where exactly is this ‘branding’ of names really taking anyone – except to the newsagents to purchase your politically biased paper ?

I thought that real terrorists were what I saw on tv quite regularly now; such as those who decapitate charity workers for example or burn pilots in cages.  If I and others are to be given the same classification as those which undertake this; then who I ask is the person who is really out of touch ? – me or the politician ?

Who are we, the ‘animal people’ (lets call ourselves that), actually ‘terrorising’ ? – or is it more factually correct to say that actually we are often trying to expose those others who are causing the real daily ‘terror’ and fear into living, sentient creatures ? – who is the real ’terrorist’ here then ? – us at SAV or the guy who paints glasses on the sheep just before he kills it without any stunning in the hell hole of a slaughterhouse ?;  witness the abuses that some British sheep are experiencing in their final moments of life; or the alleged Halal slaughtermen shown in this video ?


Who is putting real ‘terror’ into who ? – ask yourself, who is the actual ‘terrorist’ ?

The sheep in the Animal Aid undercover video are suffering terror at the result of the illegal actions of these people – so I guess they can be called ‘terrorists’.  Are visitors to SAV ‘suffering terror’ from me ‘the terrorist’ because I expose the reality of abuses, and do an article about the excellent work of say, my good friend Lesley (at ‘Eyes on Animals’ – http://www.eyesonanimals.com/ ) when she undertakes an investigation / expose of the situations at Turkish slaughterhouses ?

People who visit this site, like many other animal associated sites covering 1001 cruelty issues, have a simple choice; they can either refuse to watch the video footage, or alternatively, they can watch it; then rage and repent.  They have the choice – the option.  They have been informed of something that someone else wants to keep well and truly under their carpet – issues that they want to remain hidden from the public eye.  If it goes on, which it does; then I, a member of the public; surely have the right to inform other members of the public about that particular issue ? – if that classifies me or anyone else doing the same thing; such as the stray dog killings in Serbia; as a ‘terrorist’; then I am more than happy to be called one.  Give me the T shirt saying so and I will proudly wear it; I have my responses ready for those who ask !

The sheep in the UK halal slaughterhouse shown in the video footage above, which was  released in early February 2015 by Animal Aid, can do nothing apart from showing them enduring endless torment and suffering without any response (the silence of the lambs) before they finally die a barbaric, horrific death without even any attempt at pre-stunning.  I ask again; who is the real terrorist here ? – the organisation who exposes this suffering and terror by their undercover video footage, or the person in the slaughterhouse with the knife who causes the terror towards the animal(s) by their actions ??

Any Political Party in Government anywhere in the World cannot resolve all animal welfare issues by themselves. That day will never come.  Individuals and organisations each have a role to play in ending cruelty to animals. Governments and the political parties that form individuals and political parties have a dual role of both showing some level of leadership, whilst at the same time reflecting what the majority of people (ie. Voting electorate) want to see happen in their country.

Taking the UK (which as an Englishman I know best); animal cruelty is unacceptable to the vast majority of people in our country. When we have elections especially on the horizon as we do here in May 2015, political parties should constantly reflect this in what they say to voters, resultant actions they may promise and the results they take. Government leadership; such as amending or introducing new animal welfare legislation, is necessary either because it is what the majority of us people on the street want to see, or it is the key to amending current cruel behaviours.

For Wildlife legislation in the UK – the current government has commissioned the Law Commission to do a review of wildlife legislation.  This is long overdue; something which all aspects of society would support I think. The current law as it stands is confused, inconsistent, complex to exactly understand and often very difficult to enforce.

So what do the police do whenever they can ? – they avoid it – understandable maybe.

Wildlife law is not fit for purpose and unfortunately, the current review is still driven by deregulation, not by animal welfare.  As some kind of master stroke by the current Prime Minister, David Cameron MP; a man who is known for his love of hunting and killing foxes; it also excludes the Hunting Act. The hunting of animals is probably one of the biggest issues concerning animal welfare supporters within the UK (14th biggest mailbag to MP’s remember – as stated earlier); and so any review must include the Hunting Act, as it is the most enforced and successful piece of wildlife legislation. However, hunting has changed since the Act was originally introduced. Some practices which are still legal in the Act, such as allowing (hunting) dogs to be used underground, are terribly cruel and should be stopped.  This could and should be undertaken now by the government; chances very strongly (almost certainly) say that nothing will happen here for the benefit of wildlife before the next election in May 2015.

Now; PRE Election; Political parties should call for a review of all wildlife legislation, including the Hunting Act, with the one simple, greatly public supported aim of increasing wildlife welfare.

All Political Parties and their national candidates; right now, today, pre election May 2015; need to clearly demonstrate what exactly they do and do not stand for with specific policies about animals and animal welfare.  Staying ‘zip lipped’ on the issue is not the way to getting the majority of votes from an animal welfare supporting public – so why do they still stay zipped ?

The pledges below are straightforward, could be implemented quickly and have massive welfare benefits. I would even stick my neck out today and be bold enough to say that any political party of any colour which DOES take a positive stand here would get overwhelming support from the British voting public.  And wow, given the current state of national politics and how (are they from our planet ?) politicians are viewed, parties need every single vote from the public that they can muster !!

So; what could they do ? – here are a few political ‘point scoring issues’ for parties to consider and introduce prior to the May 2015 General Election – they mostly will not do it; but I will say what I feel – I am not out for votes anyway, but they are – so why do they not speak the speak ?

For Live Exports and Live animal transport within the EU (includes UK).   Ditch all the rather pathetic and cloudy, open to abuse legislation that currently exists in EU Regulation 1/2005 on the so called ‘welfare of animals in transport’.  Instead, get UK politicians and MEPs to collaborate and work towards ensuring that the EU introduces legislation for a maximum one off single journey time of 8 hours maximum for all animals in transport throughout Europe.   Current EU rules allow pigs to be transported for 24 hours; and for other species such as Ovine and Bovine; there is no real maximum journey time; as long as hauliers take the necessary breaks; whilst at the same time being clearly authorised to keep the animals on board the vehicles ! – some break for the animals !

For Badger culls. A massive area of animal welfare controversy within the UK.  As we have seen from past official government created investigations and reports undertaken and produced by people such as Professor Krebs ( http://www.bovinetb.info/docs/krebs.pdf ) there is no scientific justification for the badger culls. Culling, will make no meaningful contribution to eradicating bovine TB. End culling now and instead target political leadership to a comprehensive strategy, including effective vaccinations.  Badger culling as it has recently been undertaken by the current government, one could say, is simply a political stunt established to show both cattle  farmers and the pro cull lobby that it is attempting to do something rather than just sit on its hands.  It is simply, at the end of the day, an attempt to get votes from the farming community; but nothing much else.  In the UK, badgers are a protected species; until the government gets their hands on them, one could say; then the term ‘protected’ seems to vanish into the early morning fog !

For Snares. About 750,000 animals are caught in snares each year. Two thirds are unintended victims, mostly being badgers and domestic pet cats. They are inherently inhumane and indiscriminate; targeting all who fall into their grasp. Sadly, we are one of the few countries to still allow snares to be legally used –so let’s change that and make them illegal.

For Fighting animals. Criminalise the trade in all animals used for fighting. Hand out big fines in addition to handing out prison sentences.

For Greyhound racing. There has been little improvement in greyhound welfare in the last 10 years. It is still very closed and secretive. Strengthen the statutory framework for self regulation, including allowing frequent public reporting on dog welfare issues at any events.

For Bullfighting. Work within Europe to end public subsidy to bullfighting. It is currently classified within the EU as Spanish ‘culture’ and so thus cannot be stopped.  But if EU subsidies to producing fighting bulls was stopped immediately, a large amount of bulls would not be reared for fighting.


Wanting to see improvements in animal welfare is a popular and very widely held view by the British public. Political parties and any of their ; it could be a big vote winner for them; but will they do it ? – candidates can use their stance on these animal welfare issues above (and others I have not mentioned) to show people what core values and beliefs they actually hold as the peoples political representative.

Animal welfare is very largely self contained policy area – in most cases it is unlikely to conflict with other policy outcomes.

 As a result their could be major improvements in animal welfare over the next parliament; post May 2015; if the British Government listened to the wishes of its people and implemented some or all of the recommendations above.

Somehow; I feel that in reality there will be very little change for the election and in the coming years.  I guess that that means I go on being the terrorist, and the political spin doctors go on with pushing out their daily yukspeak !!

Regardless, SAV will probably be around for a while longer !

Regards Mark;


In memory of Jill – she was only young when she was killed; but she had experienced the political ‘system’ and decided to show that she was not happy with it – that she would fight the fight ! – that’s why we will always remember her.

 Jill’s Film

See Jill’s film (4 Parts) – Note that this film is now several years old, and many issues have changed; some for the better, some are still as they were and some, well, have possibly declined even more !

The story of a girl who died attempting to make a better world for veal calves.

If there were more ‘Jill’s’; then the world would be a much better place – simple as that ! 

Part 1 – Currently unavailable.

Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XubIUrWJ7ro

Part 3 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1jOLviy15w

Part 4 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7dvQpOd3vc&feature=related