Angel, my fantastic lemon coloured cocker spaniel, often travels with me across our amazing region. Born near Stanton Drew, she loves being out and about meeting, and sniffing, the amazing people I’m so pleased to visit.
And, of course, she’s a great companion brightening the day whatever my challenge. Journal readers with a much-loved pet will know exactly what I mean.
How we treat animals is a moral indicator of how decent and good we really are as a society; I’ve always thought that. Animals can’t really speak for themselves - but a truly civilised society does it for them - and then acts.
Next time you see Angel joining me in a photograph look at her face – like me she is often smiling. Apart from recently, that is! The reason - huge disappointment for the Government have scrapped the Kept Animals Bill - something many of us have been waiting for ministers to get through Parliament as they promised.
The Bill aimed to ban live exports of farm animals, clamp down on puppy smuggling and minimise dog theft. The RSPCA supported the Bill. It’s devastating it won’t be going ahead any time soon.
This is not the first time that animal welfare provisions have been dropped by this Government. Their promise to end imports of fur, and the cruel so called ‘luxury’ food foie gras, were also scrapped after MPs like local representative Mr Rees-Mogg made a fuss.
The promises that the Government made to voters were the platform on which Government MPs were elected. So why won’t they help animals now?
Ditching this proposed law is far more than a betrayal of voter trust.
It also blocks Parliament from scrutinising, improving and progressing provisions to protect animals. Tragically it gives a bright green light to puppy smugglers, puppy farmers, pet thieves and live animal exporters to carry on.
Sadly it’s yet another example of what the public have seen time and time again from the Government. Big promises, but next to no delivery.
In stark contrast positive changes introduced by the last Labour government, of which I am proud to have been a part, have remained a highlight of British animal welfare improvements to stand the test of time, from bans on fox-hunting and fur-farming to the action taken to stop experimentation on great apes and the testing of cosmetics on animals.
As Mayor I continue this work - it is my passion underpinning all I do - from helping builders think about animals in designs like hedgehog holes in fences to creating a fund so businesses can adapt to improved animal welfare standards and minimising cruelty.
Improving animal welfare cannot depend on who happens to be a minister, or what is politically convenient or fashionable at the time; it is a matter of high principle and conviction.
The West of England is a region of animal lovers. We need a government that properly reflects modern thinking and the decency of the great people of our region.