“New Labour appears to offer no animal welfare policy for voters to consider at the election,” complains a campaigning group called Protecting Animals in Democracy. It reminds supporters of what Labour has all but forgotten: “Votes are won and lost on animal issues.” And yet, exasperatingly, there is still no animal equivalent to Mumsnet, where ministers can go and pretend they care about, say, dog biscuits, more than anything else in the world.

Writes Catherine Bennett in today’s Observer in an otherwise typical mediocre article on animal rights we’ve come to expect from The Guardian. (See the Grumpy Vegan for many other examples.)

One thing, however, I do agree with her on up to a point is when she writes, “And yet, exasperatingly, there is still no animal equivalent to Mumsnet…..” The animal rights movements in the UK and US have yet to develop a strategy which positions animal issues and animal ethics as mainstream political issues. Yes, The Humane Society of the United States does exemplary work at the state and federal level. Yes, there is the Vote Cruelty Free campaign in time for the imminent British general election. But there is no macro-strategy which transcends elections whether they be local or national, every two years or whenever (in the case of the UK) or ballot initiatives in those states in the US that allow them. What’s needed is a political wing to the animal rights movement. I do not mean by this Animals Count which, while well intended, doesn’t, er, count. I mean a multi-part strategy which includes working within the political parties with the objective of lobbying within them in support of animal issues. Neither HSUS or Vote Cruelty Free nor Animals Count or any other animal group will be in power to pass laws to protect animals and give them the rights they need. But the Democratic and Republican parties will in the US as will the Labour and Conservatives parties will in the UK. It’s time for the animal rights movement to wake up and smell the politics.

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