Friday 1 May 2015

GO VEGAN - VOTE GREEN! Karen Varga's speech at Worcester March Against the Badger Cull April 25th 2015

I'm speaking today wearing two hats because, as well as being an elections officer for the Green Party I'm a committed animal rights activist and a vegan campaigner.

With my Green Party hat on I'm here to represent all the Green candidates in Worcestershire, and further afield.

Like the national Green Party itself, all of them are totally opposed to the badger cull and want the ban on hunting with hounds to be retained and strengthened.

I'm very pleased to say that many of the Green Party's election candidates have actively campaigned against the cull, including the Party's leader Natalie Bennett and Member of Parliament Caroline Lucas, who have both taken part in patrols in the cull zones.

It's not just badgers we're concerned about though, but all wildlife, which is why we have existing policies to ban all shooting for so-called "sport" and to abolish the use of snares.

And with regard to snares, I think a special mention is in order here for Neil Laurenson, the Green Party representative on Worcester City Council, who last year successfully persuaded the council to ban the use of snares on all the land it owns. Let's have a big round of applause for Neil. 

The badger cull is unscientific, cruel and horrific, and cost taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds. 

A couple of thousand badgers were shot in the recent culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire and, with all my heart I hope not, if the cull is rolled out to the rest of the country, a further 100,000 could lose their lives - BUT it is very important to remember that this is only one of many ways that badgers and other wild animals are killed and threatened.

WE must not forget that the biggest killer of badgers in this country is not and will not be the metal of a shooter's bullet. It is something else made of metal, but rather larger in size. 

I'm talking, of course, about the motor car and other road vehicles, which annually kill 50,000 badgers, year in year out.

At least 30 million birds and one million wild mammals are killed on Britain's roads every year, including 75,000 foxes, three times the number killed by hunting.
But this is something we really can change, if we can reduce the amount of traffic on our roads.

Out of all the political parties, only the Greens offer solutions to this carnage, with our strong policies to improve and to reduce the cost of public transport and to promote cycling and walking, all of which will drastically cut the number of vehicles, and deaths, on our roads.

Another potentially huge threat to wildlife is fracking - and guess which parliamentary party is the only one totally opposed to fracking and all types of environmentally destructive extreme energy extraction. I don't think I really need to spell it out for you!

The proposed High Speed 2 railway, a vanity project so the rich will be able to get down to London a little bit quicker, could devastate as many as 500 wildlife sites, with many thousands of wild animals, including badgers, losing their lives. 

Very sadly, all the major parties support the HS2, but the Greens are opposed to it and want the MINIMUM estimated cost of 43 billion pounds to be spent instead on improving our existing rail network and on other socially useful projects.

There is, terrifyingly, something in Britain that is even more potentially devastating to wildlife and, indeed all life, than motor vehicles, fracking and HS2. 

That something is called Trident. Nuclear weapons that could totally destroy billions of lives, of both humans and other animals.

It's ironic, isn't it, that on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction that weren't actually there, the previous Labour government, at the behest of their masters, the United States of America, took part in a war in Iraq that has resulted in an estimated 1 million human deaths and an unknown and uncounted loss of wild creatures and other animals in the region.

And how deplorably hypocritical that a government of this country should support a war based on non-existent weapons of mass destruction when we have our own very real weapons of mass destruction in the form of Trident, up at Faslane in Scotland.

Not only do all the other parliamentary parties support the immoral madness that is Trident, they actually want to renew it, at a cost of £100 billion.

Only the Greens would get rid of Trident and spend that vast amount of money instead on such things as improving our National Health Service and increasing animal protection, for example by strengthening Wildlife Crime Units. 

I am so very pleased to be a member of a party that says no to the lunacy of nuclear weapons.

On that note, I think it's time now for me to take my Green Party hat off and to put my vegan one on, and to return to the subject of the badger cull.

One very important thing to remember about the cull is that it is not being done out of any love for cows.

It's estimated that less than 30,000 cows are put to death annually because of bovine TB, many infected due to intensive farming methods, but at the same time the dairy industry kills a total of almost half a million cows every year, after they become lame, because they develop mastitis or simply because they are too worn out to be efficient milk producers any more. 

Cows can live to the age of 20 years old, but almost every single one in British dairy herds will be dead by the age of seven.

The fate of 100,000 male calves born to dairy cows every year is even more appalling, as they are put to death at one or two days old, because they will be no good for producing milk.

All this slaughter and suffering because humans want to consume a product that is really meant for calves.

The solution to this cruel loss of innocent lives? Very, VERY simple. Go vegan! And if you want more info on how to do so, please pay a visit to the Worcester Vegans & Veggies stall when we get to the park.

Sadly though, it isn't just cows. 

About a billion land animals and several billion fish and other sea creatures are slaughtered to feed the people of Britain every year.


Most of the land animals are reared in appalling factory farm conditions and most of the fish either reared in intensive fish farms or caught and killed by appallingly cruel, destructive industrial trawling methods.

And with my Green Party hat back on I can tell you that the Greens would spare hundreds of millions of animals from suffering and slaughter every year by putting an end to factory farming, extending the Animal Welfare Act to cover fishing and by encouraging and educating for a transition to a plant-based diet.

Under previous governments, of both the red and blue colour, the consumption of animals and the numbers kept in factory farms and cruelly slaughtered has relentlessly increased, as has the number of painful experiments on animals, now standing at about 4 million annually, which increased by almost one million a year under the Tony Blair government, with this appalling upward trend continuing under David Cameron, because money is placed above everything and these parties are closely tied to the money markets and big, greedy, uncaring corporations.

The Green Party, once again, are the only major party totally opposed to something which would have an extremely negative effect on our ability to protect both animals and the environment we share – The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, something many have never even heard of and won’t until it’s too late. 

Talking about corporations, let's not forget how the Labour Party provided resources to keep open the appalling Huntingdon Life Sciences animal torture lab, after it was forced to the point of closure by the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign.

Let's not forget how, under the Blair regime, a strategy of persecution was instigated against anti-vivisection campaigners, resulting in dozens of decent, caring people being dragged before the courts and many of them sentenced to long periods of imprisonment for trying to stop the horror that is imprisoning animals and then carrying out live experimentation – euphemistically called vivisection – on them.

Let's not forget our comrade Barry Horne, who gave his freedom in the fight for animal liberation and who also gave his life fighting to save animals, when he died in Long Lartin prison in this very county on November 5th, 2001, following a series of hunger strikes aimed at forcing the Labour
 government to live up to their pre-election promise of a Royal Commission to investigate vivisection. A promise they failed to keep.

Remember, Remember the 5th of November. For many of us, when we go into the polling booth on May 7th, we will not forget.

The Green Party would abolish all cruel experiments on animals. We would put an end to the totally money-driven and unnecessary evil that is vivisection.

If you oppose the badger cull and support the Hunting Act, there will be, for most of you, only two parties to choose from at this election.

And, if you find it a difficult choice to pick between these two parties, do remember who it was that made it difficult for you.

We have an appallingly undemocratic first past the post system in this country which puts an awful pressure on people to vote against the party they like least instead of for the one they like best.

And the reason we still have our unfair voting system is that the major parties used their huge resources in 2011 to defeat an attempt to bring in a fairer system that would have given more of a chance to the smaller, developing parties.

So on May 7th, if you just want to end the badger cull and keep the ban on hunting with dogs, there are only two parties you can choose from. 

If, as well as being opposed to the cull and to hunting, you want widespread protection for wild animals, you want an end to factory farming and vivisection and for our society to be moved towards veganism, there is only one place to put your cross on May 7th, to support, encourage and to help into eventual power a party that will make the radical changes necessary, not just to create a fairer society for human beings, but to drive back the rising tide of animal exploitation and spare hundreds of millions of animals a year from slaughter and suffering.

But above all, whoever you're considering voting for, please do vote. Because if any of us who care about animal protection refrains from voting, that is in reality a vote for animal abuse to continue.
So please do vote on May 7th. 

As Natalie Bennett rightly said: “The politics of the future doesn't have to look like the politics of the past." Vote for hope. Vote for what you believe in, not what biased opinion polls or the media try and make you believe. 

Vote for more caring, active and focused representation. For real change, for life, for the common good – Vote Green.