What are the chances of cows getting voting rights in parliament? In Holland this is for real. In the UK animals will now also be properly represented through a new political party, ‘Animals Count’. The party launches in London at 12.30, 3rd December at the Kensington Town Hall.
Animals Count will be the first UK party ever to put animals at the top of the political agenda. It will encourage other political parties to raise the bar as long as they fail to protect the weaker individuals of our society.
"With half the EC budget going on unnecessary livestock subsidies, there’s never been a better time to re-examine tax payers’ money spent on unsustainable farming methods that are associated with poor animal welfare and human health," says Animals Count party founder Jasmijn de Boo, 31, who was a candidate for the Dutch ‘Party for the Animals’ in the 2004 European Parliament elections. This party won two seats in the Dutch Parliament on 22 November 2006 in their third elections in three years. Ms Marianne Thieme (leader) and Ms Esther Ouwehand (no.2), MPs for the Dutch Party for the Animals will be present at the inaugural Animals Count meeting on 3rd December.
Public support for animal welfare is growing fast in Britain. Over 3 million people support animal charities and donations total 500 million pounds. Due to public pressure fox hunting, fur farming and testing on animals for cosmetics have already been banned in the UK. This was followed by the enforcement of the new UK and Scottish Animal Welfare Act in November 2006. The Acts include a statutory duty to care for animals, higher penalties for animal abuse and grants extended power to inspectors to seize animals that are suffering or in danger of suffering (preventive action).
The new Animal Welfare Act is a step in the right direction; however, millions of animals continue to be exploited every day for food, consumer products, so-called ‘sports’ or other forms of entertainment, and as models for human disease. They suffer throughout their lives crammed in cages without space to perform normal behaviours, become distressed during transport and are sometimes cruelly killed.
Animals Count intends to field candidates for the 3rd May 2007 Welsh Assembly elections, targeting those seats (20) that are chosen by proportional representation rather than via the ‘first past the post system’.
The media are invited to Animal Count’s launch at 12.30PM, 3rd December at Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8, during Animal Aid’s ‘Christmas Without Cruelty Fayre’. There will be a press conference, panel discussion and a picture slideshow. For a media info pack and interviews please contact: Jasmijn de Boo (Chair), phone: 078 80624310, email: email@example.com, website: www.animalscount.org
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Animals Count’s founder, Jasmijn de Boo, was no. 5 on the list for the Dutch ‘Party for the Animals’ during the European Parliament elections in June 2004. Below is her description from May 2004. For updated information or pictures, please contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 078-80624310.
Jasmijn de Boo, Bsc. (Hons), MSc., DipEd, is an animal welfare scientist and works at the (Dutch) National Centre Alternatives to animal use. Jasmijn has been promoting alternatives to harmful animal use in higher education for three years, she has taught ‘Animal Care and Husbandry’ at vocational level for three years and is currently also working on a project to reduce the number of animals used in scientific research. Jasmijn has lived abroad for several years, including in Thailand where she studied social behaviour in gibbons. She also lived in Scotland for one year, where she completed an MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare.
EP Election results:
Animal rights group launches party to target vulnerable MPs
Alok Jha, science correspondent
The animal rights group which has protested most vociferously against Oxford University's new animal research laboratory has announced plans to launch a political party. Speak Campaigns said it would contest elections and bring animal rights to the top of the political agenda.
"We intend to stand against incumbent MPs who are outspokenly anti-animal ... as well as Labour MPs with small majorities," said a statement on Speak's website. "We do not intend to stand in every area, but in specific targeted seats where there is an issue of animal welfare. In real terms all we need to do is lose some of these people their seats in order to gain genuine political influence and move animal rights to the top of the political agenda."
Speak Political will be an offshoot of a campaign set up in 2003 to protest against the construction of an animal research lab in Oxford. The building contractors pulled out in 2004 after intimidation from members of the Animal Liberation Front. Work restarted a year ago and a high court injunction prevents protesters from coming within 10 metres of the building site.
In its statement, Speak singled out Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, for being outspokenly in favour of animal research. Dr Harris said: "I always knew that my position of support for medical research using animals and support for the victims of animal rights extremism would make me a target, but in a way I welcome the fact that Speak are entering the political fray where they will have to try to win the argument by reason and engaging in democracy rather than by their other tactics of harassment and intimidation."
Speak's new direction comes after ALF member Donald Currie was jailed for 12 years on Wednesday for a bombing campaign. Speak said that its new venture was not about winning seats:
"We know that would be very difficult given the current unfair nature of the British 'first past the post' political system."