The exponential growth of the Green Party in recent years has understandably resulted in a greater range of issues climbing to the top of our political conscience.
We must not forget, though, the importance of our traditional principles. The Green Party’s policies on animal protection and welfare are integral to the fabric of the party, which is something we should not only be proud of and promote with gusto but also seek to reinforce and improve.
To enable Green Party members to strategise more effectively on animal- protection issues, several members of the party’s animal rights policy group, including Manchester activist Jake Welsh, formed the Greens for Animal Protection group (GAP) in 2013. Last summer, GAP held its first annual general meeting (AGM), at which committed Green Party activists formally adopted a constitution and elected a committee, which we hope will enable the group to be officially recognised as a sub-group within the party in much the same way as Young Greens, LGBTIQ Greens, et cetera. Liz Carlton has been selected to act as GAP policy convener.
With official status, GAP hopes to advance its core aims: to cement and strengthen existing party policy; to introduce new policies (e.g. the motion calling for a complete ban on foie gras that passed and became policy at the spring 2015 conference); to discuss and promote animal-protection issues within the party; to establish a wider reach beyond the party via public presence at events, protests, rallies and gatherings.
Animal protection is vital not only because of its intrinsic link to core Green Party principles such as ecological wisdom and non-violence, but also because of the inescapable connection between factory farming and climate change, as well as the degradation of the planet. The well- worn but pertinent statistic that, worldwide, emissions from the livestock industry exceed those of the entire transport industry always needs reiterating. Far from being peripheral, our animal-protection policies are at the very heart of our raison d’être.