I guess that in reality I should be labelled as ‘a typical, mainstream European’.
I have spent many happy times in mainland Europe, and have many friends there. I campaigned right across the Netherlands with CIWF calling for drastic improvements to farm animal welfare conditions.
Above – Campaigning in the Netherlands – 1997.
Until I finished ‘the day job’ to go further into animal welfare, I had some 25 years being involved a great deal / primarily with Panavia ‘Tornado’; a military aircraft project made by a consortium of European nations – UK, Germany and Italy. At the height of its service, it was the best. It still is in service with all these air forces, and others including Saudi Arabia.
So, a career on the (European) Tornado; a British European, someone who has great love and respect for the peoples and places of Europe; it was obvious, when we had the UK referendum on continued membership of the EU, I would vote in the ‘Remain’ camp – lets stay as UK members of the EU – Right.
Wrong; big wrong ! – and here is why; what influenced me to vote ‘Leave’ – to get out of the EU; to vote in favour of the UK packing its bags and opting to go it alone.
Ever since I was a young kid of probably 8 or 9, I sadly witnessed truckloads of live animals heading down to South East Kent ports (Dover etc) for their onward trip into Europe and eventual slaughter. I lived and grew up in Kent county; on the South East corner of England –‘The Gateway to Europe’; the closest and most direct route into Europe. I knew nothing of the live export trade at the time; apart from the fact that I knew even then that it was wrong to make animals suffer; crammed into trucks for many hours; maybe days; going to their deaths. I asked questions with family and friends about what I was witnessing as a youngster; but nobody could really give me satisfactory answers to the questions I asked. I don’t blame any of them; it happened and most people accepted it; but for me, it caused a real problem; and the big question – why should it be allowed to go on ?
In life, with most issues you often have 2 options; you either turn your back and run away to hide from the ‘problem’, or you stand up and ‘front it’ as we say in the UK. For me, from a young kid onwards, the live animal exports campaign was going to be a ‘front it’ issue – I wanted more – I wanted to be a voice for the suffering animals. So, one cold and snowy Winter day in 1988 I think it was, I was in the car listening to my local county radio station – ‘Radio Kent’; when they announced that a girl was attempting a demo at Dover port that day against the live trade in exported farm animals. For me that was it; a ‘front it’ moment for what I so detested. Despite the snow and rather bad road conditions, I headed off to Dover to take part. Her name was Trudi and we became very close friends. We still keep in contact today – what, 30 years on.
Above – Trudi with friend.
Over many years that followed, I continued to join with many other campaigners who had decided to front it for the animals. There were good times, but there were a lot of bad – we laughed when there was something good, but often we witnessed huge amounts of animal suffering – and we cried together; regularly. In the early days, I was wrongly led along the garden path in a wonderland direction that informed me that was called EU legislation for the ‘protection’ of all animals in transport – a kind of Dick Whittington situation – all roads leading to London are paved with gold as the story has it. So why ‘front it’ ? – our wonderful EU are ensuring all is ok, and the bad in the animal transport industry would be hit. Well, the more I became involved with live export work, the more I learned; and very quickly I learned that existing EU legislation on the protection of animals in transport was about as hard as a marshmallow. Some would say that knowledge can be a bad thing – but for me it really shone the light on the abuses and ignorance of EU political powers to make things better.
In South East England we campaigned and fought hard – fronting it – for the animals at Dover docks and other SE ports attempting to be used by the animal exporters over the years: The trade was stopped for a while at Dover; we had won; but then high court action by a haulier forced Dover to take the trade back. In the meantime; exporters tried anything they could to get their animals into Europe.
Dover exports – from Mark’s own collection.
Flying calves from Coventry airport in an old busted up plane was one attempt. It was here that Jill; campaigner and still hero to many; lost her life under the wheels of a calf truck she was trying to stop getting to the airport –
In the following you can see some ‘front it’ footage from our campaigns to stop live exports over the years. – go to 1 min 23 / 24 seconds and 2 mins 18 / 19, 3 mins 28 /29 etc you can see ‘Seal man Robert’ – white jacket with horizontal stripes – who Mark campaigned with on Russian seals; see other articles in ‘About Us’. https://serbiananimalsvoice.com/about-us/
Campaigning against live animal exports in Southern England:
So where are today ? – 25 / 30 years on we all ask ? – the EU must have gotten better in its efforts for live animal export enforcement – right ?
Wrong; the EU has deteriorated from gutter crawling at best on this issue, to a point now where it and its reputation have gone entirely down the drain. As an Englishman, I considered the issue of the UK leaving the EU long and hard over many months. Having been a voice at SAV for the last 10 or 11 years also; and having penned some 30 export investigation reports to the EU ‘masters’ over the years; knowing the continual suffering involved in this trade; I had, over time, learned a few things about the EU and its attitude to animal welfare.
And so, last June, I decided to put my vote on the paper and get out of the EU; away from the utterly useless dummies that they have the helm. Those who can very adequately ‘talk the talk’, but who do very little when reality comes along and asks for enforcement of the (EU) legislation, in the form of prosecutions against member states and / or people involved, to be taken.
The final issued which swayed my vote was the complete and utter uselessness of people such as Bernard Van Goethem at the EU. Here we have a Veterinary (I thought they helped suffering animals ! ) working at the EU in Brussels which shows the reality of the way in which Brussels really sees animal suffering and welfare issues. Have a look at a few of our links to see what Mr ‘I can do nothing’ Van Goethem has said about our live export cause over the last few years.
No, maybe first I should get you to see the excellent video made by the even better friend Lesley at ‘Eyes on Animals’ http://www.eyesonanimals.com/ in the Netherlands. This video (one of many) shows the conditions and suffering endured by EU ANIMALS being exported live to Turkey; for slaughter:
Or how about the video from the EU Animal Welfare Eurogroup:
or a video on in-weaned calves and lambs transported in Europe :
A few of our SAV posts relating to live exports:
As Lesley says in her video above,
“We want to know if the EU Regulations and the treaty of Lisbon are being complied with. After 5 years of sending endless complaints and inspections reports to the responsible authorities, the only conclusion to draw is that animals exported top third counties are NOT protected at all. This trade is a systematic violation of Article 13 of the Treaty of Lisbon. Behind the statistics and legislative promises there has only been suffering”.
There is an answer – to get OUT of the EU. Donald Tusk and all his merry men, the un elected Commissioners; sit like tin pot gods in their crumbling ivory tower. They have no interest or cares for the issues and the citizens of Europe; only themselves and their mighty powers at the top of the outdated institution called the ‘EU’.
The UK has decided to do the wise thing and get out – several other EU nations are looking at what happens on this before they have the guts to act and follow. By being independent, the UK will ensure that, though the endless work and campaigns of groups and citizens, that animal welfare is put higher up the tree than it already is under so called ‘EU legislation’. The UK WILL STOP all live animal exports – we can guarantee that; currently only the UK and its EU membership has stopped it (UK) from taking independent action. The UK government will listen to its citizens when it goes it alone – we will ensure that as part of the ‘front it’ campaigns; for animals, human rights, whatever !
Now we read that self glorified Donald Tusk is trying to act the hard man for the EU.
What a pity he could not act the hard man when it came to making sure the EU enforced existing EU Regulations and rules. HIS LACK OF ACTION is the very reason why nations such as the UK are now going to go it alone.
The Tusk Junker Ivory Tower called the EU has had its first brick now removed.. There will be others, we can be sure of that. Lack of decent EU management has commenced the crumbling of the EU. But then what else can you expect with the Junkers, Tusks and Van Goethems doing nothing with regard to listening the the citizens of Europe ! – they are the ones to blame.
Time will tell; but by remaining in the EU and witnessing its crap legislation, which exists only on paper, but not in reality, current member states will continue to submit endless reports and evidence – only for it to be utterly ignored by the hieracrchy of the EU – the Commissioners and such like. We know this because of the evidence we have presented for the last 11 years on the situation for stray animals in Serbia. Despite presenting untold evidence to Commissioner Hahn and his staff at the ‘EU Enlargement Commission’ on non compliances of the rule of law by Serbia; we have been utterly ignored; just like Lesley and the situation in Turkey.
Above – Serbian sheep being exported – compliance with EU Regulation 1/2005 ?
Given to the EU Enlargement Commission as Evidence of Non Compliance – Result : Evidence Ignored.
Now Serbia is going through the phase of ‘Candidate Country’ to become a member of the EU. No doubt the EU will be all hugs and kisses if Serbia joins, and to hell with the enforcement of rules and regulations – they don’t enforce now; so why do it in the future ! – much the same could also be said for the EU and its paper legislation.
The reality is very different to what is documented !
Remember – brick No 1 (UK) of the EU has now been removed. There will be many more. ? Finland next ?
Like the Phoenix, will the EU rise again from its ashes ? – only when the blinkered fools at the top are replaced and the citizens of Europe, and their wishes, are actually listened to and followed up with hard, formal actions.
I voted for the UK to leave the dying tower called the EU – probably the best move I have made in a very long time.
Now we watch to see if others in Europe actually front it, or do they simply walk away – Status Quo and all that.
EU – Listen, Act and Enforce – or Face the Consequences !