Why the Parks are the life-blood of the town

I was appalled to walk around Daventry a few weeks ago with Councillor Sean Connors who, like me has a keen belief that we can do better, work harder, enjoy life, when we live in a beautiful place. He is a man who really does have “green fingers” and is trained as a horticulturalist. I think we need to recognise that the contracted park service we currently use is not fit for purpose and we need to set up something we can be proud of. I don’t doubt that this will take a bit of time to arrange, but I am sure the goodwill is there to support such a scheme. We need a trained team of responsible people, properly equipped and motivated to give dignity to  Daventry. braunston tunnel 1950s Since I resigned last Tuesday, I have been approached by many people asking me to stand as an Independent candidate. I worry that time is short and also I cannot begin to describe the exhaustion of facing up to all the savagery from UKIP that followed by resignation.

Here, anyway is a video I made with Sean a few weeks’ ago. The contents remain relevant today.
And here is a link to an earlier film I made walking down Sheaf street in Daventry. Daventry has tremendous history and it is something to celebrate publicly. I think within 3 years, we should be winning a Britain in Bloom award!

FRONT number 1 revised2 FRONT number 1 revised22

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Kipper MEP Racially Insults Muslim SNP Politico as ‘Abu Hamza’

This is a thoughtful and insightful blog.I could not say anything in any clearer way frankly. TIM WILSON

though-

The story did not seem to me to be “a non-story” and Coburn and Farage compound the original insult by referring to it as a joke however crass or tasteless they may describe it. these people deserve to be thoroughly and mercilessly ridiculed until they sit up and pay attention. It is time they understood and appreciated what a joke can be!

James Gillray is one of my heroes

George III and Queen Charlotte

this is what the UKIP spokesman said at the time:

Glenn Campbell, BBC Scotland political correspondent

UKIP said David Coburn had apologised to Humza Yousaf.

They said he would be making no further comment on what a spokesman described as a “non-story”.

But that’s unlikely to be the last word on the matter.

Mr Yousaf said he was taking “legal advice” to see if he could pursue a complaint under legislation against race or religious hatred.

It has also emerged that the Scottish government is inviting MSPs to vote to express their disapproval.

Cabinet minister Alex Neil has tabled an amendment to a motion celebrating Scotland’s diverse communities.

It says parliament “unites in condemning the recent comments by David Coburn MEP”.

MSPs will decide on Wednesday whether or not to endorse that rebuke to Scotland’s most outspoken Euro MP.

Beastrabban\'s Weblog

David Coburn

David Coburn, the openly gay Kipper MEP for Scotland, is in the Groanoiad and Scottish Daily Mail for allegedly referring to Humza Yousaf as Abu Hamza in an interview with the latter paper. Yousaf is the MSP for Glasgow, and the Minister for Europe and International Development in the Scottish parliament. Yousaf and Coburn were due to take part in the BBC’s Big Immigration Debate, but Yousaf did not arrive. Coburn said of Yousaf’s failure to appear, “Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza, didn’t seem to turn up.”

SDM Yousaf Insult

His remarks have been condemned by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, the Conservative’s leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, and Kezia Dugdale, Labour’s deputy leader north of the border. Coburn, however, has said that the remark was supposed to be private, while the Kipper’s Scottish chairman, Arthur Misty Thackeray, said he had simply got the name wrong through a…

View original post 586 more words

David Coburn considers his position

coburn resigns

Failed law student (Glasgow), art trader.

There are apparently claims he stood as MEP for Scotland while listing a resident address in Kensington. This may be why he also stood in 2012 for the London assembly -and lost.

He believes in legalising recreational drugs, against scottish independence. He also believes UKIP is not racist. He does not like gay marriage initially saying that this encourages homophobia from religious people and later calling gay marriage Politically correct and allegedly a symptom of Nazi ideology – I do not quite understand this.

He has difficulty, it appears, with Asian names, specifically confusing Humza Yousaf and earlier Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh. She described his mispronounciations of her name as “sexist and possibly racist”- “How humourless and thin-skinned are these people,” said a UKIP spokesman in response, “trying to make faux outrage stories about a slip of the tongue over a name?…It wasn’t mispronounced throughout the entire Euro campaign. It was mispronounced once; if memory serves me correctly, David called her Jasmina” But abuse is abuse, surely?

this is what was written:

Ms Ahmed-Sheikh said: “During last year’s European election campaign, I was faced with David Coburn’s ignorance as he repeatedly got my name wrong.

“During the days and weeks of the campaign he called me Pashmina, Jasmine and Tamzin before eventually settling on a combination of ‘love’, ‘dear’ and ‘honey’.

“I found his remarks sexist – and possibly racist.

“We need to be doing all we can to encourage women and people of black and minority ethnic origin into politics.

“Mr Coburn is a dinosaur, and if his leader Nigel Farage has a shred of decency he will sack him now.”

Mr Yousaf first called on Mr Farage to sack Mr Coburn this weekend after the MEP’s Abu Hamza “joke” was revealed in a tabloid.

The external affairs minister described the remark as an “Islamophobic slur” that left him feeling “deeply hurt”.

He said: “It is quite unbelievable for anyone to think it is appropriate to compare me to a convicted terrorist simply because I am a Muslim.

“None of us would tolerate this behaviour if we witnessed this being shouted at a Muslim in the street – but the fact it has come from an elected member of the European Parliament is beyond the pale.”

The Observer piece on Farage

nigel's plans

Rachel Cooke can barely restrain her contempt for Mr Farage as she pens this rather fascinating article in the magazine section of the Observer today. I am sure it was set up by the media boffins in the Dorset HQ of UKIP with the thought that Nigel is the party’s greatest asset, but he is a bit like Marmite. I have never really liked Marmite. And I get the impression from this article that he is actually a bit out of his depth. He is running a National election with a sticking plaster and a rubber-band. Whatever your views about his policies, hats off to him for his spunk.

Given my own recent brush with the powers of UKIP, I thought it would be interesting to analyse the main points in the piece.

Firstly there is a photo which is captioned, “Whatever my faults, I have some principles.” Certainly not any ones I would admire, Mr F! Not anymore. My eyes have been thoroughly opened (and incidentally, I am still waiting for a response to my letter!)

But what is interesting about the article is that, given Rachel’s evident dislike of the man’s policies, he comes across as someone we would all enjoy meeting, actually someone we might actually like. He describes himself as a “sentimentalist” and as a man who wants to watch lots of theatre when he retires – I certainly hope he has booked himself into plenty of shows after May 7th, then- She does her level best to do him down “looking at his weary face, clammy and puce”, but for all her efforts, what I felt by the time I finished was a wave of sympathy for a man against the odds. And I liked his observation that politics is full of “corruption and laziness.” Having had a brush with it, I concur.

I remembered  the awful pictures taken of him getting out of the plane wreck, as I was reading Rachel’s article and urge you to check above his brilliant summary of what happened and the way it has affected him. Then, of course, there was the terrible melee last week when his family was attacked by the “hope not hate” people. Also, I realise I must know some of his contemporaries at Dulwich. There are moments, certainly for me, when the Farage image moves from marmite to something rather more all-embracing, and there is undoubted warmth. He has the theatricality and actually the charisma and “common touch” to appeal to a much wider audience, but something stops him doing that.

There was a bit where Rachel pressed him about his family, and I felt his discomfort. (“his absolute refusal to wheel out his family. .. I won’t even let you through the front gate.”) But then, he tells us that his wife would pass the Australian migrant points scheme, and that made me cringe.

Some of the points he makes are blatantly wrong of course – he claims that Blair is responsible for the influx of “hard-working Polish builders”. It was not Blair, but John Major who signed the Maastricht treaty and Blair was simply following the inevitable progress of the Brussels juggernaut. The treaty guaranteed European Citizenship over and above National citizenship. This allowed for freedom of movement within the community, the right to vote and stand for elections in the country of residence and the right of petition to the EU parliament and of complaint to an ombudsman. It also provided for monetary union. A number of subsequent treaties (including Nice, Lisbon and Amsterdam) may have had some Blair input but they were essentially tinkering with what was set up in 1992.

thatcher

Mrs Thatcher rejected Maastricht saying that she “could never have signed that bill”. And the rebellion against Maastricht formed the centrepiece in the Government of Mr Major, with famously the approval of the Maastricht agreement inching through the Commons with a majority of only 18 votes.

But despite the title on the front page, Rachel does not really draw any conclusion about “what drives Farage”, though I certainly have my suspicions.

Apologies Chuka! there really is racism

high ukip rankers

A few months ago, I wrote a blog-piece here in response to claims by Chuka Umunna who said there was racism at the heart of UKIP. This is a party I know well and I was, until two days’ ago the Parliamentary Candidate for South Northants.

Review of recent events

humza

About 10 days ago I learnt of a comment tossed off by David Corburn, UKIP’s only MEP in Scotland, who compared the Scottish Minister for Europe, Humza Yousaf to convicted criminal Abu Hamza, a man who is serving a life sentence in New York for terrorism. I immediately requested a meeting with Mr Farage which was denied- I am too much of a small-fry! I was told to go through the hierarchy and approach my “Regional Organiser” whose name is Paul Oakden. Oakden had already revealed himself to be a thug who threw his weight around, and never returned telephone calls. Time dragged on and I spoke to Humza early the following week to ask what I could do to help, talked to the Daily Mail and found myself resigning. For the next few days, I was at the centre of a media circus that was actually located somewhere in Edinburgh.

Bits of the furore tricked down to Northampton, and Oakden went in for the kill, accusing me on live radio of behaving like a brat, throwing his toys out of the pram. He questioned my competence as a candidate and so on, which meant I was obliged to answer back and the thing duly had a more local manifestation. But I was at pains to stress I had no evidence nor suspicions about any member of the local party being racist, homophobic or prejudiced.

And then came Adam Collyer’s blog which was a nasty attack on my partner- suggesting that he was not the victim of a torture event in Greece but probably the aggressor. It undermined my integrity, of course, and seriously upset my partner who had suffered 11 years’ of a legal battle for proper redress through the ECHR.

adam

Adam Collyer, like David Coburn is an elected UKIP politician, one of the current high ranking and experienced leaders of the party. As a UKIP ranker, I think he must be held to higher standards than ordinary members who might aspire to but have not attained elected office. In other words, he is on the same rank as David Coburn and I hold him to the same standards. If he wants to lambast me, well I am fair game of course, but if he wants to attack my family, he should check his facts first and also make sure that what he writes is unambiguously clear.

One significant fact was wrong: Necati did not enter the UK as an asylum seeker. Another fact was presented in such a way as to be misleading: here is the offensive phrase: “… Necati Zontul, a Turkish asylum-seeker who has been involved in allegations of torture against the Greek police.” I was first alerted to this by a Greek friend who sent me a message : Κάποιος κύριος γράφει άρθρα σε “blog” για εσάς και τον Necati. Αυτός ο άνθρωπος δηλώνει πως Ο Necati δεν είταν’ το θύμα αλλά ο κατηγορούμενος της υπόθεσης. Αυτή την εντύπωση μου δίνει.
This person tried to leave comments on the blog, but was unable to do so. Adam does not like feedback.

Two points: firstly I am proud of what we did to bring Necati’s case to a successful conclusion – against the odds and under serious pressure to keep silent, and secondly, I do not doubt that Adam might have intended to write something else, and I agree what he writes is also open to a number of interpretations, but one of them is utterly wrong. We are in the business of using words to change people’s lives: that is what we do in politics. It’s also what we do when we make films and work in the media. That gives us a responsibility to do the job properly. We cannot make stupid jokes and get away with it. We cannot write things and say we did not mean it. People have lost their jobs for less- and today a bad tweet can cost us everything. Adam and Coburn just were not careful enough…And moreover, there was no reason at all to bring the story of Necati’s torture back into the public arena.

Anyway, where does this lead us?

The bottom line is very simple- the ordinary activist in UKIP may not be racist or homophobic, but it is quite clear that senior UKIP rankers will do anything they can to seize or hold on to power, often with personal abuse or inuendo. They are also equipped with the sort of thuggish views that should never be expressed or even considered – and Farrage will endorse the lot! Roger Helmer was excused for making a series of homophobic comments, Coburn was excused for making his racist attack on Humza, Collyer remains undisciplined for attacking a torture victim and on it goes.

Westminster

These people are ready to pontificate about our lives, and look set to be thoroughly electable, many of them have already been elected to represent us in Brussels. UKIP will achieve a powerbase in Westminster in May. I wanted to ensure that among those elected were some reasonable individuals and they certainly exist too- I have met many of them. Douglas Carswell is a fine example, Tom Rubython, Rose Gibbins, Michael Gerard – all people who I am sure are as appalled at the racist stuff emerging from the ill-toothed mouth of Coburn, and yet I was the only one to resign.

This is it: the thugs have bullied their way to the top and they are the ones who, regrettably, control the destiny of the party. And racists attract racists – we should not be surprised by some of the astonishing things written on pro-UKIP websites and facebook pages. Bile against Islam features prominently.

The Black hole and personal Regret

My great regret about resigning the other day is this- that the media storm focused a little too much on the resignation rather than the reason. I thought I might stimulate debate on racism, but what happened was alot of questions about why I took this so seriously when Farage did not. I take it seriously because it is almost the most important thing in life- to have respect for the person sitting next to you. Humza and Coburn may be in different parties, and be political opponents but Coburn does not have the sense or the prudence to realise he is in the same business – and that fact alone should command proper respect. Coburn used his mass and stupidity in an attempt to belittle a good, no a great man. If we take an astronomical image, Humza is the rising star and Coburn is a black hole and the sooner he implodes completely, the safer we will all be.

Chuka Umunna

Apologies 

So, apologies Chuka – you are not entirely wrong. But racism is not found at the heart of UKIP, it is found at the head (the Greeks say the fish smells from the head). The heart of UKIP, I think, beats with a passion that questions the wisdom of Brussels and the efficacity of the Brussels bureaucracy, something any Greek would be eager to applaud. But the UKIP rankers look down from their turreted fortifications – oddly for the most part in Brussels not the UK- and wince when they hear people on the train who do not speak english, whose skin is a different colour, whose religion is not anglican. There really is a danger that these people will have power.

And across the way will be the Scottish nationalists – I cannot say I favour a fractured Kingdom at all, but I have never met an SNP politician I do not like. It’s odd- it’s obviously nothing to do with being Scottish- because I detested Gordon Brown in a way I can barely describe in words. (I will add a picture of him in a few minutes to entertain). I think it is something about being fresh and having a very specific message. It does not matter whether we like that message- we have to admire the way it is presented. Now, UKIP also is relatively fresh and focuses on a single message. In so many ways, there are parallels, except that UKIP is top-heavy with racist, homophobic “has-beens” and the SNP is quite free of these. Even Alex Salmond is endearing. And just think back to the speed of his resignation: that is a picture-book demonstration of honour and integrity.

We hear all this nonsense these days about the importance of policies, but UKIP has yet to publish a manifesto and the election inches forward. I rather fancy making my mind up on the basis of who is the most polite, the most honourable, who has the most integrity and is the most personable. I think I would fill the whole of Westminster with the SNP!

Coda:

Despite claims by Adam Collyer to have resigned and to have left UKIP, after a short illness during which he said he felt his family was under attack, he has returned to work as usual. He was assisted in this process by none other than Paul Oakden.

Screen shot 2016-03-08 at 10.11.39

 

debate about Ritual Slaughter

General Summary of the legal position as discussed recently in Parliament:
It seems to me that part of our remit in politics is to make sure we explore subjects thoroughly. There is a way in which we can sloganize the issues- and get it wrong! Recently, I made a film about concerns over Ritual slaughter and animal welfare. (I was forbidden by the UKIP hierarchy from showing it, but I am now free from their clutches, so the link is here:)
I think we allowed the wrong message to get out- namely, that we want to stun all animals before slaughter. In fact, we want simply to ensure that there is proper labelling showing, among other things, whether an animal has been slaughtered in a secular or a religious abattoir. I came across a very well formulated statment about this debate from the Muslim Council of Britain:
The Muslim Council of Britain calls on the BVA to “get real” on animal welfare
23rd February 2015
Today MPs debate religious slaughter following an e-petition launched in April 2014, which reached 100k signatures, calling for the end of religious slaughter. Another e-petition launched within the last fortnight calling for the protection of non-stun religious slaughter has attracted significantly more support, with over 122k signatures being received in just 10 days.
Dr. Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said:
“The overwhelming support in the UK for the protection of religious slaughter, whether Shechita or Halal, is undeniable with over 122,000 people signing the petition in the last two weeks alone.”
In the midst of concerns about animal welfare, he added:
“Islam and Judaism, like other faiths, require animals to be treated humanely at all times. We urge the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to investigate how animal abuses of the kind exposed by Animal Aid and Hillside Animal Sanctuary could occur when every abattoir is supposed to be under the supervision of a veterinarian. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) should stop fanning the hysteria around religious slaughter and “get real” on the true priority of animal welfare. If the BVA are genuinely concerned about animal welfare, we need to hear what they are doing about the duty of veterinarians to ensure the welfare of animals in the slaughterhouses, at all times, given the abuses reported.”
The Muslim Council of Britain urges MPs to devote their discussion to the real animal welfare concerns at slaughterhouses, irrespective of whether they do or don’t stun.
  • Notes to Editors: The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques,charities and schools. For further information please contact:
  • The Muslim Council of Britain PO Box 57330 London E1 2WJ Tel: 0845 26 26 786 Fax: 0207 247 7079 media@mcb.org.uk This is the Commons summary: Religious Slaughter of Animals – Commons Library Standard Note Published 18 February 2015
  • Standard notes SN07108 Amended 19 February 2015
  • Authors: Emma Downing Topic: Agriculture, Animal welfare, Food, Human rights, Religion and faith communities
There has been growing public and parliamentary focus in the last year on methods used for religious slaughter, welfare concerns about whether animals are stunned before slaughter, which food outlets are serving halal meat as a matter of course to all customers, and whether all meat prepared by halal and kosha methods is being labelled as such.
UK and EU slaughter regulations set minim welfare standards at slaughter and require all animals to be pre-stunned before slaughter to minimise their suffering. Member States may exempt slaughter in accordance with religious beliefs from the pre-stunning requirement and the UK implements this derogation.
The Government has said that it would prefer all animals to be pre-stunned before slaughter on welfare grounds but it observes the rights of religious communities and the Prime Minister has said he will never ban religious slaughter practices. For animal slaughter to be lawful under Jewish law and Shariah (Islamic) law, Jewish (Shechita) and Muslim (Halal) conditions have to be met before an animal is cut and bled. These conditions also dictate how, and whether, pre-stunning of animals is acceptable.
Around 80% of meat in the UK prepared by the Halal method is pre-stunned, including supermarket own-brand meat. The British Veterinary Association (BVA), RSPCA, and Compassion in World Farming have had long running campaigns against slaughter without stunning arguing that the scientific evidence, shows that non-stun slaughter allows animals to perceive pain and compromises welfare. However, faith communities counter that, when carried out properly, their slaughter methods are more humane. The BVA instigated an e-petition in May 2014 on this matter and it has already had over 114,000 signatures triggering a Commons Debate. A counter petition, calling for the protection of the right to non-stun religious slaughter, has 38,000 signatures.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Beef and Lamb’s August 2014 report Meat Slaughtered in Accordance with Religious Rites highlighted areas of research that would better support the evidence-base for policy-making in this area as well as future slaughter practices. All sides agree that method-of-slaughter labelling would help the consumer to decide whether they want to buy non-stun meat.
The UK Government is now awaiting a delayed EU Commission report on animal welfare labelling.
The commons’ debate:
During the debate itself the following are the salient points:
hollobone
1) a) Philip Hollobone (Kettering): hindquarters of animals killed by (non-stun) Shechita can enter the market unlabelled. While non-stun slaughter is permitted we call for clearer slaughter-method labelling and post-cut stunning to improve welfare…..Members agree that the important thing is to label meat products as helpfully as possible, so that consumers can make an informed choice. … sadly there are many instances in which animals are mis-stunned and mis-slaughtered. In my research for the debate, I was horrified to realise that, each year, potentially hundreds of thousands of animals are not stunned properly before slaughter, yet data on the extent of the problem are practically non-existent.
1) b) Sir James Paice:(SE Cambs, Conservative): All kosher meat has to be killed by the shechita method, which is non-stunned, but not all halal meat is non-stunned. As he said, for 80% of halal meat the animal is electrically stunned first and then done in the normal way. Therefore, if he were to put halal on a label, he would be inviting people to discriminate on religious grounds as opposed to the welfare grounds of stunned or non-stunned.
2) Caroline Lucas (Greene, Brighton) we could also try to improve standards in all slaughterhouses, by for example supporting the campaign for mandatory CCTV? Even things that are technically legal often involve high levels of animal cruelty.
3) Philip Davies (Shipley cons): Of course, that is incredibly important, but many people of different religious views, such as Sikhs and Christians, object to the blessing given to halal meat. One interesting point was raised by Mr Hollobone and never answered: There was an interesting letter in last week’s Jewish Chronicle,of which I happen to be a weekly reader, from, presumably, a Jewish correspondent from Lancaster, who said: “The rabbinical interpretation has been made that the blood should be removed by drainage through a severed artery. And that is carried out by cutting the throat. However, I cannot see why having the animal anaesthetised, before its throat is cut, in any way detracts from the original biblical injunction not to consume animal blood. Perhaps a rabbi can explain where I am wrong. Is there really any religious reason that shechita might not include stunning of the cattle before their throats are cut?” I suggest that elements of the Jewish community do not quite understand where Shechita UK and other organisations are coming from. I can help Mr Hollobone here! the simple answer is twofold- that any form of anaesthetic would be regarded as an injury and render the animal non-kosher, or indeed, it introduces drungs into the food chain.
1) If we can be sure that the purpose of this debate is animal welfare, then there is a final point worth making: unless this issue is approached in a pan-European way and is properly informed by religious laws, any actions taken in the UK will drive trade to Europe. I cannot see how that helps animal welfare!
2) if the aim of the law is either anti-semitic or islamophobic, then
a) parallels must be drawn with the infamous fox-hunting law which -as far as I can see- has not helped foxes in the slightest, has led to a revival of the hunt community, precious few prosecutions and a general sense that the law as passed by the Blair government is a mess. It will take some years before it is repealed, but there is no doubt it will be repealed because it is a bad law. In UKIP, we must not select or support issues that will lead to bad legislation.
b) I hope we would recognise that it is wrong to pursue laws to threaten, punish, or limit the activities of our faith groups. The Tudors tried that and in the end, they failed. The Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829 should be etched for ever in our minds, and we should not undermine the message it sends. It took years for that act to fully command popular support (indeed, the Queen opens parliament from a throne designed by Pugin, a man whose identity was hidden because he was a Catholic! Here is a picture of Pugin incidentally!) We cannot go back to the dark days.
pugin
For the record, here is my briefing about this to Stuart Agnew in UKIP:
stuart agnew
Advice about Ritual slaughter
from TIM: on this issue, if halal and kosher meat is not properly labelled, it is an offence for sikhs to eat.
Showing our support for the Sikh community would send out a very positive message.
I am delighted that you now say the pre-stunning ideas are being abandoned.
This should not mean that we do not continue to campaign for humane killing and the wider care of animals going to slaughter.

However, I think it would be of great value to have a chat. The whole area of multi-faith intercourse has been my subject for many years. It seems to me that it is essential when dealing with religious matters that the spokesman is properly briefed and I regret that, I think you were left slightly on a limb over the Halal/kosher issue. What you have sent me today is a great relief and exactly the right approach to take!

I was invited to speak in a Mosque a few weeks ago, before I was selected and so now that invitation is under review by my slightly anxious hosts: I am not sure now whether they want to invite me to another venue or they may postpone the talk until after the election. Certainly, they are very worried about this issue in particular and about UKIP’s attitude towards Islam in general, which I have assured them and would assure them is not a problem at all.

I spent my first few years teaching in a Hassidic school in Stamford hill where I was accepted as part of the community because my mother is Jewish. Again, I understand at first hand what the issues are regarding religious observance and I have a friend who is in fact a Jewish shochet/butcher. We have already obliged Judaism to modify the method of ritual slaughter in the UK- animals are elsewhere slaughtered on their backs. One of the points, however, that Jewish butchers would make is that the animals are slaughtered individually and so no other animal witnesses the death of its kind: this will always be presented as primary evidence of the care taken and respect to animal welfare.

My own investigations regarding stunning in the regular meat process is fairly similar to yours- a marginal number of larger animals are not properly stunned (I would put the percentage slightly higher than 1%, but not much- the animal rights’ people have some fairly horrific photographs and reference, but it is, as you say, marginal), but there is a more serious issue with the electrocution and plucking of chickens which I think could benefit from further investigation, and seems to me to show signs that the animals are pretty routinely stressed.

Some of the Kosher meat that is on the wider market is meat that is quite edible by gentiles but that could not be eaten by Jews without the removal of the sciatic nerve – this removal has not been done in the UK within living memory, I gather- I see no problem with this getting into the ordinary meat market provided it is properly labelled. There is no question about either religion using non-religious butchers for the slaughter. In both traditions, this would render the meat unclean anyway. In addition, in the halal tradition, specific prayers are required to be said at the point of slaughter

UKIP is, however, not alone is uneasiness about slaughter that goes ahead without pre-stunning. There was some government sponsored research in 2003 by the Farm Animal Welfare Council and in New Zealand, Halal meat is routinely pre-stunned while kosher butchers post-stun seconds after cutting the throat.

More evidence would need to be assembled before we could mount any campaign against black-market meat from muslim farmers. This is a fairly recent law (1999) and there should be some evidence of transgression- are there police records or prosecutions? I can find no evidence. I think unless we have specific examples and rely only on hearsay, this would whip up an unnecessary storm and, with apologies for the mixed metaphor, we could well end up with egg on our faces!

Regarding my own religious background, I was brought up as a Catholic, briefly became a monk and have subsequently adopted Greek Orthodoxy having spent alot of time in both Greece and Russia. My godmother is a Russian nun who still lives on a remote island in the Shetlands!

Beyond this, I should add that I was brought up among the farms and horticultural industries of the fens, so again, there are points of reference that may be of use.

I look forward to talking.

Sincerely, TW

I believe this is broadly-speaking the position adopted by UKIP now. Of course, essentially it is exactly what the current coalition Government has already agreed. But, I think a major achievement to have brought UKIP back from the initially racist and prejudiced proposals as reported in the Jewish Chronicle (see below)
INITIAL CORRESPONDENCE  with Agnew:
This was in response to the following letter from MR Agnew which I hope you will notice is full of mis-understandings.
The law is presently being routinely broken.  The Welfare of Animals (slaughter or killing) Regulations 1995  state
that animals must be pre-stunned. There is an exception (schedule 12 pt 2) for the food of Jews and the
food of Muslims. It also states that the slaughter man must be of the appropriate religion. Therefore, where Kosher and Halal meat are being consumed by non-Jews/Muslims, the law is being broken. UKIP will at the very least, make sure that the law is observed, because a very large quantity of Halal meat is being unwittingly consumed by non-Muslims. Political
correctness plays a part in this. However, it must be pointed out that three quarters of Halal meat is
pre-stunned. UKIP initially said it would ban non pre-stun, but now wishes to put the subject formally through its policy unit.  We await the outcome of their deliberations. Whilst there is a headline attraction in such a ban, it could make
matters far worse, for the following reasons:
1)      The killing will be done on farms owned by Muslins with no meat
inspection, no welfare inspector and sold into a black market with no traceability, or
2)      The carcases will be imported from France, or elsewhere, where welfare concerns are low priority.There is also the likelihood of more sheep rustling from farms. Kosher meat is all non-pre-stun.   Some of this (the
dearer cattle rump cuts, which are too expensive to porge) do enter the non-Jewish food chain.  Animal
welfare at slaughter falls into three phases:
1)      The handling of the animal from the pens and in the alleyway. It
is easy to induce a great deal of stress at this stage.
2)      The effectiveness of the stunning, (mis-stuns are at least1%)
3)      Where Halal/Kosher is used; the sharpness, length and weight of
the knife is very critical, along with the speed of the stroke and location of the incision. It is poor attention to
detail here that results in welfare problems. All of these factors must be taken into consideration when considering policy on this issue, so that the outcome of any change in the law does actually improve animal welfare
overall. I would add that UKIP is the only Party with a policy of banning the
live export of animals for slaughter.  No other Party can offer this because it is in conflict with the EU’s
single market rules.
Best wishes Stuart Agnew MEP Office
of Stuart Agnew MEPUK
Independence Party25
Regent StreetGreat
YarmouthNorfolk
NR30 1RLTel:  01493 856744 Email:
ukipeast@intamail.comwww.stuartagnewmep.co.uk
This is what the man said in the Jewish Chronicle which prompted my letter:

Ukip’s agriculture spokesman says he did not want shechita ban policy

By Sandy Rashty, February 3, 2015
MEP Stuart Agnew
MEP Stuart Agnew
A senior Ukip member has claimed that the party’s ban on non-stun slaughter, announced today, was against his wishes. MEP Stuart Agnew, the party’s agricultural spokesman, said:
“We are a democratic party and I couldn’t get enough support. They didn’t like my tolerance of non-stunning.
“They have decided to override me on this occasion. I’m not going to say they were wrong.”
But Mr Agnew said the policy was not meant to target shechita.
“This isn’t aimed at you – it’s aimed elsewhere – it’s aimed at others.
“You’ve been caught in the crossfire; collateral damage. You know what I mean.”
Food Standards Agency statistics indicate that kosher and halal abattoirs collectively cut the throats of 2.4 million sheep and goats without stunning them first. The latest FSA figures, from 2013, indicated that animals killed by the shechita method accounted for only 1 per cent of the total. Ukip is the first political party to announce that it would back a ban on non-stun slaughter, advocated by animal rights groups including the RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association. Yesterday, the party’s national executive committee voted against Mr Agnew’s suggestion that stunning be permitted as long as kosher and halal meat was labelled.
Mr Agnew said he believed that the policy was put forward to win votes ahead of the general election.
He said: “There are more votes to be gained, and I expect that’s what they were looking for.
“We’ll have lost the Jewish vote for sure, they won’t support us now for sure – we won’t get any now.
“But we might gain votes elsewhere – and that’s what they’re after, general election votes.” He added: “It’s an emotional issue.”