Veganism in Politics: The British Parliament Debates World Vegan Day
(20 min) Play or download (18MB MP3) (other formats) (via iTunes)
Veganism in Politics 3: The Debate
At the end of our last episode, Kerry McCarthy MP said she’d asked for a debate in Parliament to mark World Vegan Day.
She was successful, and at the end of business on November 1st the House of Commons debated veganism. I was watching from the gallery.
In this episode, concluding our series of three about veganism in politics, we give our account of the debate. We explain what’s going on, who everyone is, and tell you which of the MPs who spoke against is officially the least sexy Member of Parliament.
The three vegan MPs, Kerry McCarthy, Chris Williamson, and Cathy Jamieson, are profiled the first set of show notes from this series about veganism in politics.
Jim Paice MP is the minister of state at the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs – or farming minister – who answered Kerry McCarthy MP. Not all holders of that portfolio are as hostile to veganism. Under the previous government it wasn’t unusual for a vegetarian – like immediate predecessor Jim Fitzpatrick – to hold the portfolio.
Simon Hart MP asked Kerry McCarthy for peer-reviewed science on how farm animals were treated.
Jim Shannon, the UK’s least sexy Member of Parliament, quoted his GP as saying we needed to eat meat. There are, of course, vegan medics and dieticians.
Also present in the chamber (identified in a tweet by Kerry) were:
- Alistair Carmichael, the chief “whip” (organiser) of the smaller government party, the socially liberal and fiscally middling Liberal Democrats. In contrast with Caroline Lucas, who lives in Brighton on England’s south coast, his constituency is two islands off the north of Scotland.
- Robert Goodwill, another whip, for the governing Conservatives
- Kerry pointed to a while a Labour Party comrade, also a whip, as someone whose bacon joke she’d just had to put up with.
The sole Green Party MP, mentioned in the show for not being at the debate, is Caroline Lucas.
Watching the full debate
In our show, we summarise and analyse the debate in 20 minutes.
You can also get the whole half hour debate:
- watch on BBC Democracy Live
- watch at the UK Parliament website (the adjournment debate is the last half hour)
- read the official Hansard text at Parliament.UK
- read the annotated marked up version at They Work For You
The Nocton Dairies controversy
Kerry McCarthy traded blows with Farming Minister Jim Paice over this defeated plan for a large intensive dairy farm – not for the first time. This time, it was over whether it was multi-story.
The proposal had been the target of the award-winning “Not in My Cuppa” campaign by several British animal welfare groups. Farming Minister Jim Paice had been supportive of intensive dairies, but Nocton Dairies withdrew the proposal in February after the Environment Agency insisted the risk of groundwater pollution was too high.
I checked the original planning application from 2007:
Update: these plans have since been taken down (perhaps because there’s no need for a local authority to display withdrawn plans), so these links are now broken:
- The overall plan;
- Plan showing that milking parlours have a second story, but not one that the cows would use
- The planning application doesn’t show how much space the cows would have had when confined, but dividing the length of the “accommodation” in plans by the number of cows shows that each cow could not have had more than 70cm (2’3″) of width, including any space taken up by fixtures between cows.