Sunday, 30 October 2016

Ramsgate Live Exports We're Making History

On Friday I attended a meeting organised by my friend and longstanding anti-live animal exports protestor, Reg Bell. The meeting had been arranged  to review the 5 year old campaign to ban the  brutal animal export  trade, not just from Ramsgate, but from every port in the country. But this was no ordinary meeting. Reg being an extremely persuasive person, was able to bring together under one roof in Thanet, some of the most influential voices in animal welfare in the country.
The new Chief Executive of the RSPCA, Jeremy Cooper was there along with Daphne Harris Chair of RSPCA Trustees and Chris Wainwright the RSPCAs Director of Communications and External Relations. Emma Slawinski Director of Campaigning from Compassion in World Farming attended as did Thanet South MP Craig MacKinlay and Ian and Yvonne Birchall from Kent Against Live Exports.

The meeting discussed Craig’s 10 Minute Rule Bill which amends the 1847 Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act, to allow local authority owned ports to use their discretion and ban live exports from their ports. Craig’s Bill reaches its second reading stage on Friday 4th November. If successful the Bill will then go on to committee stage, third reading and then hopefully becomes law.  But even if it becomes law, we will still have to wait for Brexit for it to have a practical effect. Nevertheless it’s a big step towards the eventual ending of this nasty and cruel trade. Both RSPCA and Compassion said that they backed Craig’s Bill and that their supporters across the country have been contacting their MPs to ask them to vote for it!
The meeting then discussed the enforcement of existing EU animal transport welfare regulations. Everyone agreed that pitifully few resources have been invested in policing the regulations and that  cuts in central and local government spending are likely to make an unacceptable situation even worse. However, Brexit, or no Brexit, it was still possible for the UK Government to introduce  our own legally enforceable national laws and regulations limiting live animal transport times to 8 hours a day. In fact  Sweden, Denmark, Holland and  Germany have already announced that this is something they are thinking doing themselves.  We all felt that an 8 hour limit would put an end to live exports to the EU, or make it so expensive to comply that the exporters would  simply give up. This is a subject which the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming, Craig MacKinlay MP and local campaigners felt was worth exploring in much more detail.  It was agreed to establish a regular co-ordination meeting at which all parties would monitor the situation in Ramsgate and explore the development of Parliamentary actions to change our laws and effectively ban live animal exports for slaughter once and for all.

It’s not often I come away from  meeting thinking wow I have been part of  something which will make massive  and profound difference!  But thanks to the efforts of my friend Reg Bell a meeting was arranged  which  brought together all the key players in the UK animal welfare movement and this meeting, I believe, will kick start a co-ordinated drive to restrict live animal transport to 8 hours day ending forever the cruel, barbaric scenes we have witnessed and continue to witness at Ramsgate  Port.

As my one of my heroes LKJ once sang “we’re making history”


  1. Why is a UK law reliant on Brexit especialy if the 8 hour limit can be enforced? Complete nonsense: the 1847 Act already allows for ships/cargo to be turned away at the Port. Sounds like our politicians are pretending to do something but delaying

  2. You and Mackinlay are looking very pally together Ian. What's your view on his policies to reopen Manston and Regenerate Ramsgate harbor. It looks disastrous?

    1. I am opposed to the re-opening of Manston airport and support the development of Ramsgate port as a leisure focused, rather than a heavily industrialised facility. As to looking pally with Craig Mackinlay, I might be lifelong socialist but I have always tried to work cross-party to deal with issues of concern. I'd even be happy to work with Labour on such a basis but they do make it difficult. Which reminds me of story. Many years ago I attended a remembrance service in the House of Commons for the man responsible for turning me into a socialist - left wing MP Bob Cryer. I was shocked when arch right wing tory Allan Clarke MP entered the room and presented an eulogy about Bob. His eulogy was powerful and touching and had many people, myself included in tears. Clarke spoke of a deep friendship between 2 men with massively opposed political views who apparently shared a love for vintage cars and enjoyed being in each others company. Politics is a strange old thing.

    2. Nice to hear of your bromance with Craig - but you have wildly different polices: he wants to open Manston as an airport.

      While his plans for Ramsgate harbor/port after 18 months are nonexistent except now for Brett cement.

      As with your Bob and CLarke story sounds like saying one thing...

  3. Craig should resign given the failure of his main/only policy on Manston.

    He can't rely on blamegaming TDC - he knew they were involved when he made his manifesto pledge