The United Kingdom Independence party, UKIP, a populist right-wing nationalist party, announced on Tuesday that they would back a ban on any slaughter of animals without pre-stunning, effectively putting an end to shechitah in the UK. They are the first major political party to deny any exemption for religious slaughter in Britain.
Describing the current government position on this issue as “weak, lazy and bordering on spineless,” a statement by UKIP said, “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.”
However, Stuart Agnew, the party’s spokesman on agricultural affairs, said that he is comfortable with non-stunning for religious reasons. Speaking to The JC, a local Jewish media organ, Mr. Agnew said that he had been “overridden on this occasion.” He also said that the policy was “aimed elsewhere – aimed at others.” He said, “You’ve been caught in the crossfire, collateral damage. You know what I mean.”
Shechita UK’s campaign director, Mr. Shimon Cohen, decried the statement, saying, “Citing weak, agenda-led science, UKIP has become the first major political party in the UK to call for a ban on religious slaughter. This latest move is opportunistic and a disappointing shift from UKIP’s previous position, when both Nigel Farage and Stuart Agnew publicly advocated their support for shechitah.
“UKIP’s new assertion that ‘[mechanical] pre-stunning before religious slaughter is fully compatible with all world religions’ is plain nonsense. The Jewish community does not permit any of the industrialized mechanical stunning methods used in factory slaughter.
“By joining the campaign to prioritize “animal welfare” over the rights and beliefs of the UK’s faith communities, UKIP has returned to the fringes of mainstream politics.”
Hamodia spoke to Mr. Shneur Odze, who will be standing as a UKIP parliamentary candidate in the forthcoming general election, about his party’s decision regarding the ban.
“I note UKIP hasn’t proposed a ban on imports. I will be redoubling my efforts, along with very many colleagues, to get the party to reconsider the science and the impact on the Jewish community.”