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Further to Jonathan Porritt’s critique of the UK’s environmental movement’s response to the government’s forest fireside sale which is now been chopped (forgive the puns), he commented (before the government’s u-turn announcement yesterday) further about their response to the coalition’s initiative. I like his strategic approach.
So my simple suggestion for the Big 10 is this: start all over again, but urgently. Develop a joint position to maximise the massive leverage that your collective membership still commands.
Then approach Mrs Spelman with a deal: if she withdraws the relevant clauses in the Public Bodies Bill, you will hold back from launching a national, joint, high-profile campaign to oppose the current proposals root and branch – in effect, to take on some of the heavy-lifting that has been carried so far by 38 Degrees and some brilliant local campaigns.
In return, you offer to work with Defra, the Forestry Commission and representatives of local action groups to come up with some genuinely radical proposals on how best to improve and extend the Public Forest Estate, how best to involve community groups, NGOs and the private sector, how best to turn the turgid rhetoric about the “Big Society” into a living, breathing blueprint for sustainable forestry in the UK over the next 20/30 years.
And this might well include creative ideas about different patterns of ownership, different ways of optimising public benefit, and indeed different ways of improving the conditions of the 60% of privately owned woodlands in England that are already poorly managed from a commercial point of view and are providing zero public benefit.
Yesterday’s announcement of the backer’s withdrawal of the proposed mega-dairy is a victory. But this issue will resurface elsewhere in another form. Vigilance is needed. The dairy industry must be closely monitored. We need to be ready to act again.
But who is “we”?
We, in this case, were national animal welfare organisations (e.g., CIWF, WSPA, Animal Aid, VIVA), national environmental organisations (e.g., Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth, Soil Association), progressive political organisations (e.g., 38 Degrees) and local residents associations (e.g., Campaign Against Factory Farming Operations). This coalition mobilised support from Parliament and the entertainment industry. Further, the campaign was emboldened by reports challenging the application from the Environment Agency and Anglian Water. And, of course, tens of thousands of people who added their voice in a variety of ways.
This impressive coalition of diverse interests demonstrated why the proposed mega-dairy had to be opposed for various reasons (e.g., animal welfare, environmental protection, sustainable farming practices).
This is the lesson to be learned from Nocton. When the case for animal welfare is framed within a progressive agenda of interests there will be increased chances of success.
The challenge to establishing moral and legal rights for animals will not be found in a fundamentalist, moral crusade espousing vegan absolutism.
It will be achieved when animal advocates position animal interests as a natural fit alongside those of the environment and human well-being.
Comprehensive and progressive agendas of social change, as demonstrated by yesterday’s decision to withdraw plans for the mega-dairy, will propel animal issues into the public mainstream and establish moral and legal rights for animals as a public policy issue.
Here is the trailer for an interesting new film, Nonviolence for a Change, which is commissioned by the Turning the Tide programme of Quaker Peace and Social Witness. There’s also a report in The Guardian about this which is written by Zoe Broughton, an undercover investigator who has worked at a number of facilities, including Huntingdon Life Sciences and for Compassion In World Farming.
Leading environmental campaign Jonathon Porritt critically assesses a dozen of Britain’s environmental/green/wildlife non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and their reaction to the British Government’s proposed sale of historic forests.
A combination of growing public concern (evidenced by the 450,000 people who have now signed the 38 degrees petition), more and more local action groups, and a sudden realisation on the part of the Lib Dems and even some Tories that they are on a hiding to nothing with this one, tells me that this campaign is eminently winnable. Especially if you bear in mind that not one of the major environmental NGOs has so much as lifted a finger in support of the campaign. A few cautious ‘words of warning’ when pressed, but nothing that anyone else would recognise as a campaign. Why not?
Incredibly, the pro-hunting and pro-shooting Countryside Alliance produces a film in support of shooting birds in Britain which does not include one image of a bird being shot. Lot’s statements and images in this film which underscore why shooting birds is indefensible.
Congratulations to Animal Aid for their excellent undercover campaign in British slaughterhouses which included installing CCTV cameras to record not only the routine killing of farmed animals but also their cruel treatment. The Guardian prominently features the campaign today. Here’s the link: animal-welfare-abuse-slaughterhouse. To learn more about Animal Aid’s campaign go here.
And here’s the link to today’s report in The Guardian.
Go to this link to access additional segments of the programme. And, of course, go to Oprah’s Web site.