You will recall that when Talleyrand died, Metternich is supposed to have asked ‘What did he mean by that?’ Say this for Nigel Farage: he’s no Talleyrand. Subtlety is not part of the UKIP genome.
Take, for instance, a Kipper press release issued this afternoon. I confess I had not hitherto been aware of UKIP’s alliance with the RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association. So it was good to discover that Mr Farage’s party is calling for a ‘ban on the non-stun slaughter’ of animals.
I wonder what they mean by that?
“We find the government response to this issue is [sic] weak, lazy and bordering on spineless. It says it would “prefer” animals to be stunned before slaughter but that it must “respect the rights of Jewish and Muslim communities to eat meat in accordance with their beliefs.”
“It’s about time someone stood up for the rights of the silent majority in the ethical treatment of animals instead of bowing down to those who shout the loudest.
“We respect religious groups to carry out slaughter in the UK according to how they define and read their scriptures. What we do not allow however is for the rights and demands of groups within those religion override the UK’s compassionate traditions of animal welfare.”
It’s all about the sheep and the goats isn’t it? Of course it is. And, my, what a lovely little tune that nice Mr Farage is whistling.
Apart from a few animal rights activists almost no-one cares about the sheep. Or the goats. And if we’re being honest, only a very few people really care about how religious Jews slaughter their meat either.
Apparently, however, we are all menaced by the idea of all these other people – you know who they are – forcing their non-stunned animal carcasses onto the rest of us. It’s part of their stealthy plot, you see. Part of the creeping Islamification of Britain. Abattoirs today, god – may he be blessed – knows what tomorrow.
Now, sure, I dare say the non-stunning of animals in their last seconds on this earth may indeed cause more distress than being stunned. If, as a matter of animal welfare, this concerns you then I understand and, actually, am quite happy to indulge your position even if it’s also the case this is an issue for only a relatively small number of sheep (it being estimated that more than 80 percent of halal slaughter already involves stunning animals).
But I would note that, other than favouring a ban on the exportation of live animals for slaughter, UKIP’s website makes no mention of animal welfare issues. That is, the party seems rather more concerned by how livestock dies than how it lives. Which is fine, I suppose, except for the fact that concerns about halal (and schechita) slaughtering practices seem somewhat beside the point when contrasted with the less attractive aspects of industrial meat production. Not a non-issue, perhaps, but certainly not an issue that merits this much attention. (It is also extremely difficult, I think, to carve one religious exception that does not apply to other religiously-inspired exemptions.)
Unless, that is, the agenda is rather different. Which I have a hunch it may be. Because, gosh, it’s almost as though UKIP choose to play one part of the country off against another. Almost as though they believe one set of British citizens are a threat to the so-called silent majority. And we know who they are, don’t we?
There these extremists go again, forever laying down the law and insisting everyone lead their lives in ways deemed suitable. No room for tolerance, no room for live-and-let-live, no room for shutting-the-hell-up-and-getting-on-with-more-important-things in their world is there? No, there is not. Not in Kipperstan there ain’t.
Motives matter too, you know. It’s not always enough to have the ‘right’ policy. You need to have it for the right reasons too. Which is why I’m not inclined to give UKIP the benefit of the doubt here. They’ve not earned that charity.
Alas, I suppose we should no longer be surprised by reminders UKIP is a party for bigots (though, of course, not all bigots are Kippers and vice versa!). The poor dears just can’t help themselves.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.