As Alex Massie points out in the Spectator:
Motives matter too, you know. It’s not always enough to have the ‘right’ policy. You need to have it for the right reasons too.
You might disapprove of religious exemptions from stunning because you are an ardent secularist who doesn’t think religion should receive any special privileges. Or you might have a passionate commitment to animal welfare which makes you work for improvements in many aspects of farming, including slaughter. It’s possible to disapprove of ritual slaughter for non-bigoted motives.
Sometimes it’s hard to work out if someone’s views on ritual slaughter arise from anti-Muslim (or antisemitic) sentiment or not. But UKIP’s agriculture spokesman helpfully ensures there is no room for ambiguity. MEP Stuart Agnew apologised to the Jewish Chronicle after UKIP adopted as official policy a complete ban on ritual slaughter, explaining that the policy was not meant to target shechita:
“This isn’t aimed at you – it’s aimed elsewhere – it’s aimed at others.
“You’ve been caught in the crossfire; collateral damage. You know what I mean.”
We certainly do.
Here’s a quotation from UKIP’s press release announcing its new policy:
“We find the government response to this issue is [sic] weak, lazy and bordering on spineless. It says it would “prefer” animals to be stunned before slaughter but that it must “respect the rights of Jewish and Muslim communities to eat meat in accordance with their beliefs.”
“It’s about time someone stood up for the rights of the silent majority in the ethical treatment of animals instead of bowing down to those who shout the loudest.
If this was really just about stunning then UKIP ought to be more agitated by shechita than halal. Most halal meat in this country is pre-stunned whereas kosher regulations on this issue are much stricter. According to this 2012 report (point 4.16) 100% of kosher chickens were slaughtered without first being stunned, by contrast with just 12% of halal chickens.
Isabel Hardman sums the issue up well:
This isn’t so much a dog whistle as a foghorn.
Hat Tip: Tell MAMA