Why the grassroots need to reclaim the movement.
On 24th September 2013 in a committee room in the Scottish Parliament something unusual happened. An alliance which is normally very careful to keep itself hidden from view decided to show it's face, by accident or design, for everybody to see.
A cabal of politicians, 'animal charities', the farming industry and the hunting and shooting lobby turned on Scotland for Animals and expelled them from the Scottish Parliamentary Animal Welfare Group.
Our offence? Exposing collusion between the animal welfare industry and the political establishment to kill progress.
SfA has a major campaign in Scotland for mandatory, independently monitored CCTV in slaughterhouses. We're working towards a time when animals aren't property or food but until then we accept reality, we believe we need to push for any improvements along the way.
Despite big steps forward, such as the Union which represents slaughterhouse inspectors supporting our CCTV campaign and SfA securing the setting up of a Parliamentary Sub-Group to investigate a change in the law, both the Scottish Government and the main slaughter industry lobby group here has opposed this viciously.
This is where the twist comes in.
The head of this powerful slaughter lobbying organisation used to be the head of the Scottish Government department now putting so much work into blocking the introduction of CCTV.
When we discovered this we thought that was bad enough. But it got worse.
Government officials have been throwing every obstacle possible in front of SfA's campaign including making misleading public statements to discredit this and us as an organisation. This included the claim that they had legal advice which confirmed that mandatory CCTV could not be brought into law in Scotland under new EU slaughter regulations.
Through SfA's legal research, and that of our friends at the English group Animal Aid who campaign for CCTV south of the UK border, we knew this wasn't true
Then came the confession.
In February 2013 at a Parliamentary meeting in an exchange between myself and a senior government official this individual admitted that in fact the government had no legal advice after all. Mandatory CCTV was perfectly legal. SfA had been correct all along.
Despite this being clearly audible and said in the presence of a room full of witnesses including a Member of the Scottish Parliament strangely when the minutes were published this admission had been excluded.
The animal charity who were appointed to take these minutes left it out after discussions with the government itself.
Scotland for Animals fought unsuccessfully to have this admission included. When it wasn't we went public with the story.
This is when they began to close ranks.
On the evening of the 24th we were expelled from parliament for taking the truth to the public and defending animals. They called this going “counter to the collegiate and consensual spirit” of the Parliamentary Group. There were police posted at the door.
We were denounced as being troublemakers and causing offence through our public statements. When you hear an insistence on accountability and truth being discussed in these terms you know there's something very wrong happening.
The representatives of some of the big players in the animal welfare industry (you'll probably have heard of them) voted with the animal abusers, the government and the politicians to have us removed.
The smaller (I.e with no money and very limited resources), autonomous animal groups present voted against this. This division was telling.
We accept realpolitik. We live in the real world and know that sometimes we need to sit down and talk to those on the 'other side' in order to find any common ground where we can agree to make changes. It sticks in our throats but our feelings or pride fade into insignificance when put next to what animals suffer.
Our discomfort is nothing compared to that of a pig in a factory unit or a rat in a laboratory. It's a tiny price for the chance of improvement for them no matter how small.
What we have now and have had for too long is far removed from this. It's become collaboration.
The animal rights movement has been corrupted by a self-appointed elite who now claim to represent it and are laughing all the way to the bank. For us it's a commitment to free non-human animals from slavery for the good of us all. For them it's a lucrative and socially rewarding career.
They've discovered a formula of picking one or two popular and non-controversial issues to 'campaign' on, hold a few photo-ops a year with politicians or celebrities for their glossy magazines and then sit back and watch the donations roll right in.
No risk, no danger, no dirty work. No problem.
Have a look at their salaries, you'll be shocked. Have a look at some of their backgrounds, you'll be angry.
Through their second job the CEO of the animal charity who acted as a firewall for the government regarding their non-existent legal advice is involved in the fundraising activities of organisations who carry out animal experiments.
This is how low the cause has fallen.
Figuratively, this is a war we're fighting. We need troops in the trenches who are willing to stand in the dirt and risk all the dangers to win.
If we allow the corrupt and the careerists to continue to hijack the movement we've lost already.
Scotland for Animals
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