Monday, 19 June 2017

Local Democracy (Part Two)

In which I start to hassle my newly elected representative...

We had an election here in the UK the other week.  The Conservatives won, but they sort of didn't; and Labour lost, but they sort of didn't.  It's all a rather interesting mess.  Here in Bury North, one of the most marginal constituencies in the country, Labour candidate James Frith defeated the incumbent Conservative David Nuttall (a sorry excuse for a representative, as I mentioned in a previous post) with a healthy enough majority of 4,375 votes, one of which was mine.  I think this is the first time I've ever voted for a winning candidate in an election.  I can't be sure, as I didn't vote in 2015 and as for 2010 I can't remember.  Possibly George Galloway's now-extinct "Respect" party.  I liked the sound of them., but they don't exist anymore.  George Galloway ran in a by-election in Gorton earlier in the year, which was cancelled to make way for the General Election, in which he put himself forward again, but lost to Labour.  Labour always wins in Manchester, George.  What are you playing at?  And now that Labour is worth voting for again, I voted for them.   Here is a picture of my new MP, celebrating his victory over David Nuttall, fading into the background and not looking very happy about it.

Chin up, Dave.

It's great to have a Labour Party worth voting for again.  The last time that happened, I was too young to vote.  So I decided it would be nice to write to Mr Frith to share my own congratulations and to enquire about his position on an issue that is important to me, but which never comes up in elections: animal rights, intensive agriculture and the environment.  This, for anyone who cares to look into the matter is really one issue: and I'm curious to know what Labour wants to do about it.  Here is my letter.  I will publish the response when I receive it.

18th June 2017

Dear Mr Frith

Firstly, congratulations on your election victory in Bury North. I voted for you, I think the first time in my life I've ever backed a winner in an election. It felt good. I'm sure it felt even better for you. So well done.

The reason for my writing to you, however, is that I am very interested to know your position on animal rights, the environment and related issues. As I hope you are already aware, animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to climate change. Secondly, the three biggest killers of humans worldwide are heart disease, diabetes and cancer. All three of these are related to diets high in animal protein: and while obviously not the only cause of these conditions, they are certainly major contributory factors. Death is a bad thing, as I'm sure you will agree, which brings me to my third point: the meat and dairy industries are responsible for the suffering and death of millions upon millions of animals every year. The animals we farm for food are conscious beings: they suffer, they fear, they love and they are individuals, just as we are. The use of animals as property and food really is to the benefit of no-one, whatever species they belong to. Anyone who has taken the time to look into this matter knows this to be the case.

I don't think that any of this should be controversial, although sadly, for many complex reasons, it is. It is disappointing not to see the Labour Party in its renewed passion for social justice and traditional left wing causes that entail siding with the oppressed and believing in the necessity of state intervention to right moral wrongs, not pay more attention to the need of our society to take drastic measures to combat climate change and to alleviate or prevent the suffering of those outside of our own species who are being needlessly exploited. Personally, as a fairly hard core vegan, I would like to see the meat and dairy industries abolished immediately, and for the use of animals for any purposes other than their own criminalised. I realise, of course, that this is not yet feasible, so I am interested for the time being in what legislation you and the Labour Party will support against intensive animal agriculture and the promotion of plant-based, healthy eating in our society. Any information you can give me would be very much appreciated.  If you have not already been made aware of it, I recommend looking into at the All-Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (  Perhaps this is something you could consider joining.

Once again, congratulations on your electoral success and all the best for your parliamentary career. It looks like a really tough job, so don't let the bastards grind you down, as they say. Please don't do what so many Labour MPs have spent the last two years doing - shooting themselves in the foot by actively ganging up against Jeremy Corbyn, completely oblivious to the number of people his leadership has inspired (myself included). Don't get involved in any of that - do everything in your power to bring down this appalling Conservative government as soon as you possibly can. At the last election there was talk of the number of “shy Tories”. This time, I think, the surprise was the number of “shy Corbynites”. The man is onto something big. Please don't underestimate​ that.

Yours sincerely...

I didn't get involved in local campaigning at all.  I put my name down, but never got round to doing anything about it.  But Labour won anyway, without my help, so it's fine.  From what I can tell, Labour have run a hell of a campaign across the country, and I'm excited to see that they intend to stay in "permanent campaign mode", targeting the remaining marginals needed to secure an overall victory at the next election, whenever that may be.

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