General Election results: where we go from here

Friday, 15 May, 2015

Last week CEO Jasmijn de Boo blogged regarding her disappointment with the election results – following on from that, Ali Ryland and Amanda Baker discuss what we should look out for these next five years, and how we as activists can effectively move forward for human and non-human animals alike.

Last Thursday, the Conservative Party gained a slim majority in the UK Parliament despite polls predicting a hung Parliament. What does this mean, and what can we do?

1) Stand up for human rights

Human rights help protect us all – including non-humans, through our human right to live and campaign as vegans. The right to practice and teach veganism is protected  under Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.  This is put into UK law as The Human Rights Act 1998. In the UK, if the state interferes with your veganism in a way not allowed under Article 9, then it will be breaking UK law.

However, the new UK Government is expected to officially announce plans to repeal  the Human Rights Act.  This would make it harder and more expensive for us in the UK to stand up for our human rights.  We would have to seek court judgements from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg – which the UK Government might refuse to recognize. 

2) Stand up for badgers

Environment Secretary Liz Truss has no plans to end the badger cull – despite the fact that the cull costs over £5000 per badger killed, its scientific failings, and the fact that Gloucestershire’s pilot cull failed to meet its targets thanks to the efforts of plucky protestors. 

Luckily there are still legal measures we can take to protest against the cull rolling out in full force later this year – keep an eye out in your local vegan groups.

3) Stand up for foxes, deer and hares

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has promised MPs a free vote on repealing the act that prevents the  hunting of ‘wild’ (free-living) mammals with dogs in England and Wales.The Hunting Act itself is, in our opinion, not upheld currently to any satisfactory standard.  However, repeal would be a shocking step in the opposite direction.  Repeal would likely mean further action against those who intervene to save foxes and other mammals from the hunt. It looks likely that the ban will be repealed despite rebel Tory MPs, as the SNP will not be voting on the matter – unless we engage in legal protest, raising our voices against the ban.

4) Stand up for humans in vulnerable situations

The number of Trussell Trust food banks in the UK rose from 56 to 445 in the past five years. The UK Government now plans to reduce UK welfare spending by another £12bn. This is bad news for the poor, including vegans struggling to feed themselves or their families. 

You can find and donate to your local food bank here – items like vitamin B12-fortified soya milk, cereal, margarine and nutritional yeast would be useful – or consider setting up a vegan food bank for those in need.

Moving forward

Together, we raised our vegan voices in the UK General Election more effectively than ever before. And we can still hold our MPs to account. Go here to get updates on what your MP is doing in Parliament, and use the Write To Them tool to quickly send your MP important messages regarding the aforementioned issues. Remember, protecting our human rights and the UK’s Human Rights Act 1998 is very important for effective vegan outreach toward ending the use and abuse of non-human animals. Engaging with elected representatives and electoral reform also matters, to allow our voices to be amplified further. 

Keeping and properly enforcing The Hunting Act 2004, and ending the badger cull, are key struggles to protect specific animals.will play its part by continuing to emphasize, for example, that ceasing the farming of cows – who produce milk for their calves and not for us – is key to protecting badgers. 

Offering support to our fellow human animals is a key part of the picture, too.  Continuing ‘austerity’ will make it increasingly more difficult to live vegan, and to properly care for ourselves, our families and the non-human animals in our care. If you can give others a helping hand by donating to food banks or through other community work, we urge you to do so.

And, importantly, let’s build on the success of our General Election 2015 work. Together, we reached over 30,000 people to discuss how our vegan voices can be brought to the UK political debate. We challenged around 300 candidates about where they stand on harm to animals.  We heard from eleven political parties, who between them contested almost every constituency – as well as from one independent candidate.

As Sally in Penrith said, “It’s good to know that you can really talk to politicians”.  It can feel satisfying when your MP responds, even though your opinions differ.  If you start a dialogue with your MP, that can be particularly rewarding. By writing – a letter or an email – you have time to get advice and think over your next comments and questions.  Conversely, talking face-to-face at their ‘MP surgeries’ can also be empowering – it helps to practice ‘thinking on your feet’, first. 

Vegans, in seeking to end the use and abuse of all non-human animals, are part of the global diverse social justice movement.

Join us, challenge your MPs, and be part of bringing vegan voices to the movement.

By Amanda Baker and Ali Ryland

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