How the Labour Party Turned Trust Into Votes, Won An Election, Tricked the Electorate And Betrayed Those Who Voted For It
" Slaves have been treated by the law upon the same footing as in England, for example, the animals are still. The day may come, when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may come one day to be recognised, that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons equally insufficient for the abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or, perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old. But the suppose the case were otherwise, would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? "
Jeremy Bentham, 1789
"What Do You Want Us To Promise Before You'll Vote For Us?"
"No timescale was ever promised for the establishment of a Royal Commission on animal use in scientific procedures. "
Alun Michael MP, Home Officer Minister, August 1998
In its desperate desire to win votes – and a forthcoming election – the Labour Party made numerous promises. Enthusiastic but gullible voters, tired of Conservative insensitivity, deceit and corruption, believed the Labour Party's promises and gave Tony Blair's government a chance to show what they were really made of.
As the 1997 May election approached it became clear that most rational, breathing human beings had dismissed the Conservative Party from their list of serious runners. Most people would have found it difficult to describe the Conservative government of the last few years without using the words "inept', 'incompetent' and 'dishonest' a great deal.
As I wrote in late 1996, the Labour Party would have had to work really hard if they wanted to lose the 1997 election.
Months before the 1997 election I felt that there were two reasons not to vote Labour.
First, was the fact that I found Mister-Blair-The-Double-Glazing-Salesman even more obnoxious than his opposite number John Major. I just couldn't stand the sparkly eyes and the fluorescent smile he switched on every time he saw a camera. He seemed to me to have all the depth and sincerity of a TV quiz show host.
More important, by far was the fact that the Labour Party did not seem to have any real policies or passions.
As the election approached I wrote that Britain needed a revolution but that the Labour Party seemed to be offering a light service; a quick flick with an oily rag. I forecast that with the Labour Party in charge Britain would drift, aimless and rudderless, through half a decade of political shilly shallying. I was not convinced by the Labour Party – which seemed to me to be just another tribe of that new breed of telegenic and articulate politicians who manage to appear to promise much without actually saying or promising anything.
I dismissed the Liberal Democrats as the traditional home for dithering voters who could not make up their minds about anything (the sort of people who think beige is a colour) but nevertheless begged everyone to vote and to tell the big political parties how fed up they were with their passionless, purposeless, corrupt, inane posturing by voting for an independent candidate or for one of the fringe parties.
There were, I argued, two reasons for this.
First, I felt that if the previously ignored 'fringe' candidates received a decent number of votes then maybe, just maybe, the big time politicians would get the message and realise how much they were despised and loathed by the voters.
Second, it was my belief that if a sizeable portion of the population voted for fringe candidates the Labour Party would be less likely to get the huge majority the pollsters were predicting.
I wrote in the winter of 1996-7 that in my view any party which got a huge majority would inevitably completely ignore the wishes of the electorate.
I warned that if Labour got a big majority they would be unbearable – and would ignore important issues and the wishes of the people. I warned that only a Parliament with a small minority would offer anything approaching honesty and justice.
A Future Full Of Hope
As the 1997 election approached many people in Britain were filled with hope and enthusiasm. After years of Conservative misrule, during which both people and animals had been treated with a mixture of disdain and contempt, the prospect of a caring Labour government seemed almost too good to be true. Millions felt that Labour offered the only chance of a future full of hope.
Pro-animal campaigners were particularly enthusiastic about a Labour government.
During their long period in power the Tories had done nothing for animals. They had bowed before the might of the farming lobby, the massive, international pharmaceutical industry (the main supporters of vivisection) and the politically and economically powerful pro-hunting lobby.
But the Labour Party promised a great deal.
The Labour Party marketing experts had identified animal issues as a great vote catcher. For five years just about every MP I had spoken to had reported getting more mail about animal issues than any other subject – including health, education and defence.
Riding To Power On The Crest Of A Wave
The Labour Party came to power in May 1997 encouraged by thousands of flag waving well wishers who apparently believed that the Labour Party offered hope for the future. As a veteran cynic I remember wondering just how many of those apparently spontaneous demonstrations of loyalty, support and enthusiasm had been organised by the Labour Party's image manipulators.
The Labour Party came to power at a time when Britain desperately needed strong, morally sound, ethically driven passionate leadership.
A growing number of voters had become aware that the food sold in our shops was contaminated with poisons and often richer in carcinogens than nutrients; that our atmosphere and seas were polluted, that our drinking water frequently unfit to drink and that people and animals were treated with contempt by bureaucrats, civil servants and administrators.
As the Labour Party came to power patients with cancer were being thrown out into the street because the hospitals which were supposed to look after them didn't have enough beds. Our roads were crumbling and our cities were full of a strange mixture of old ruins and hideous, poorly designed eyesores.
Infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, which we thought we had conquered, were making a comeback and around the world millions of children in underdeveloped countries were dying of starvation.
An early sign of the way the Labour government would go came when one of their first actions was to decide to allow Grand Prix motor racing to retain its tobacco sponsorship. (This decision was, for many people, explained when it became clear that the boss of Formula One Grand Prix motor racing had donated £1,000,000 to the Labour Party prior to the election. The allegedly unrelated decision by the Labour Party not to ban tobacco advertising on Grand Prix cars was said to have been made on the rather curious grounds that this extremely small but exceedingly rich branch of the motor industry would suffer financially if it were not allowed to accept sponsorship from tobacco companies.)
The Labour party lost more fans by confirming the decision to spend the best part of £1,000,000,000 on building a dome-ins-search-of-a-purpose in London to celebrate the start of a new millennium – a hideous and pointless bubble that might last 25 years (probably less than the expected lifespan of a decent garden shed).
It quickly became apparent that the Labour Party (which liked to be known as New Labour to separate itself from the old, traditional, socialist Labour Party) was going to be about as passionate, honest, exciting, invigorating and promising as the Old Tory Party.
No one expected much of John Major but Tony Blair and the Labour Party had come into power with cheers, waving flags, kisses, cuddles and a wave of euphoria probably not seen since the First Coming two millennia ago.
It didn't take long for disillusionment to set in.
"Promises? What Promises? We Never Said That! And If We Did We Didn't Mean It. And If We Did Mean It We Didn't Say When."
"Hunting and fishing for sport are so plainly and unexcusably cruel as to excite abhorrence in the mind of any person endowed with the instincts of common sense and humanity."
J. Howard Moore
In the autumn of 1997 it was widely believed that the future of hunting in Britain would be decided by a House of Commons vote on November 28th 1997. Countless thousands of animal lovers who had voted Labour – and who had supported Labour's pre-election campaign with cash or by street campaigning – felt that they were about to be rewarded.
But the idea that the House of Commons was going to decide the future of hunting was always a myth.
I don't think anyone – even the most rabid, blood dribbling supporter of hunting – actually believed that there was any doubt about the outcome of the Commons vote.
There was always going to be a huge majority of MPs voting in favour of Michael Foster's bill to ban all hunting with hounds. Bloodthirsty, psychopathic, booze sodden hunt supporting MPs were always going to be in a cornered minority.
But the Parliamentary vote was never destined to decide whether or not hunting continued.
Anyone who thought that we live in a democracy where the elected representatives of the people make the decisions that matter was wrong.
The anti-hunting bill was a private members bill with a limited amount of parliamentary time available. Pro-hunting MPs could easily make sure that it ran out of time unless the government made sure that the bill got the time it needed.
And so the future of hunting in Britain was always going to be decided by Prime Minister, Tony Blair and his cronies.
In December 1996 I had published details of a letter I had received from Elliot Morley MP, who was at the time Labour spokesman on animal issues.
Written on Blair's behalf the letter from Morley promised that if a vote to ban hunting was carried in the House of Commons: "Labour would ensure that a bill to ban these activities would have the necessary parliamentary time."
"...the bill," Morley promised, "would get the time it needs to become law. There will also be no compromise with the Lords on this issue."
In another letter, written to Tony Banks MP, (later Minister of Sport) the Prime Minister had said: "Our policy is to have a free vote in Parliament on whether hunting with hounds should be banned by legislation. If such a vote is passed it will be a decision made by parliament and parliamentary time will be made available for appropriate legislation to progress in the normal way."
When it began to look as though the Labour government might renege on these crucial promises I published extracts from those letters in my newspaper column and I personally sent out 4,000 copies – to all MPs, animal rights groups, newspapers and TV and radio stations so that there could be no doubt about the Prime Minister's pre-election commitment.
I received many letters of support from MPs (many of whom were concerned about the fact that the Labour leaders seemed to be changing their minds about supporting animal issues which had won them many votes) but most of the media ignored the Blair promises – either because they regarded a politician's promise as irrelevant or insignificant or (in my view more likely) because they had been told not to write anything rude about the new Labour government. (The Labour government had, before the election done a number of 'deals' with media owners. The media owners had promised to support the Labour government and the Labour government had promised a variety of business perks.)
The TV Debate
The media blackout over Blair's pre-election promises seemed to me to be extremely alarming. But the virtual media blackout wasn't the end of the story.
On 17th October 1997 Central TV invited me to appear on a network television debate on hunting, to be broadcast live on Wednesday 26th November 1997 – two days before Parliament was due to debate the Bill to stop hunting.
"We would like to invite you to take part," wrote Central TV, "preferably as one of a limited number of key speakers...I very much hope you will be with us on the night."
I immediately decided to come out of retirement and break my self imposed five year old ban on appearing on television. (I had stopped appearing on TV on the grounds that most British TV is wimpy, self indulgent and superficial, and that most broadcasters are slightly beneath the invertebrates in the evolutionary hierarch. I have a low opinion of TV producers in Britain. It seems to me that although they are often willing to get tough with small time crooks they are invariably unwilling to take on big issues or powerful corporations. Genuine radicalism, dissent and original thinking are rejected in favour of a desperate attempt to satisfy the lowest common viewer's hunger for superficial sensationalism.)
I sent a message to Central TV accepting the invitation. I had to cancel important speaking engagements – including a trip abroad – to make arrangements to appear on the programme.
I intended to produce for the TV cameras two vital pieces of irrefutable evidence showing that before the election the Labour party had promised that any bill to stop hunting would receive all the parliamentary time it needed.
First, I intended to produce the letter from Elliot Morley MP. Second, I was going to produce a copy of the letter written, just before the election, by Tony Blair and addressed to Tony Banks MP. The TV company knew of my plans. They seemed to agree with me that the letters were extremely significant.
A few days later I had lunch with the Editor of The People newspaper (which was, at that time, running my weekly column in the UK). At that lunch meeting I predicted that Central TV would withdraw their invitation.
My prediction came true on Friday 31st October. A Central TV employee telephoned my office to say that because the programme was likely to be busy they couldn't promise me much air time and so didn't want to drag me all the way to the studios in Nottingham in order to appear on the programme.
I responded to what I regarded as a rather curious excuse by sending back a message saying that since the programme was live I was prepared to take my chances. (I have appeared on hundreds of TV programmes over the last few decades but I have never before come across such apparent consideration on the part of a TV company).
Central's response was to try again to encourage me to withdraw from the programme.
I telephoned the show's producer and told him that I was happy to go on the programme.
He didn't disagree when I told him that the vote itself was of secondary importance to the question of whether or not the government decided to stick to its promise to give an anti-hunting bill the time it needed to become law.
Nor did he disagree when I pointed out I was the only person who had published the vital evidence showing that the government had promised to give an anti-hunting bill all the time it needed.
But he made it clear that they didn't want me on the programme.
On the 17th October I had been invited onto the programme as a "key speaker'. A fortnight later they didn't want me in the studio at all. It seemed to me strange that Central TV was planning to make a programme dealing with the parliamentary debate about hunting apparently without discussing the Labour Party's promise to give the bill time to become law – a promise which was crucial to whether or not the bill succeeded.
On the 10th November (after I had protested rather vigorously at this about turn) the TV company wrote inviting me to interview Lord Williams of Mostyn, the Labour Minister responsible for animal issues including hunting.
On the 16th November they wrote to tell me that I would not be in the debate.
After another letter from me and a 'chat' with Carlton TV boss Mike Morley I was again told that I could interview Lord Williams of Mostyn, and ask him why the government was backing down on its pre-election promise.
Moreover, TV boss Morley, told me that if Lord Williams refused to appear I would be allowed to discuss the vital letter from Labour Minister Elliot Morley which contains the Labour Party's pre-election promises on hunting.
Morley (the TV boss variety) wrote: "If Lord Williams doesn't show then I still intend covering the content of your letters with you – this will be in the final section of the programme."
Not surprisingly, given my scepticism about British television, things did not work out quite according to plan.
When I arrived at the TV studios on Wednesday evening 26th November I was told that I would have five minutes at the end of the programme.
I spent a major part of the programme – which seemed to me to have all the political fire and relevance of an hour of prime time Home Shopping Channel – sitting in an almost empty reception room used before the programme by anti-hunt campaigners.
(With extraordinary tactlessness the TV company had supplied vegan and vegetarian anti-hunt campaigners with a wide variety of snacks containing bits and pieces of dead animal.)
During the final ad break I was ushered into the studio.
However, despite Mike Morley's letter, I was immediately silenced by the presenter when I tried to read from Elliot Morley's vital letter.
The presenter, who, as far as I was aware, didn't even mention that Lord Williams had refused to be interviewed by me on the programme (you could have knocked me down with a horse box when I heard that he wasn't going to turn up), turned away and spoke to TV astronomer Patrick Moore.
At the end it seemed to me that there was a certain unreliability about letters from people called Morley.
The Anti-Hunting Bill Fails
Mike Foster's anti hunting bill was passed by the House of Commons, and supported by an overwhelming majority of the British people but it did not become law. It did not become law for the simple reason that the Labour government refused to do what they had promised to do before the election. No private members bill had ever become law without government support. And Foster's bill was no exception.
When I realised that the Labour government was planning to break its promises I felt as ashamed of Britain under the feeble minded hypocrites of Labour as I had been of Britain under the Tories.
I also felt ashamed of the British media.
I don't know why the makers of the TV programme didn't allow me to discuss the embarrassing promise packed Elliot Morley letter.
Did they really not think it important – despite the promise made by Mike Morley?
No one would, of course, suggest that either the Labour government or the TV station could possibly have been involved in any improper behind-the- scenes deal.
But why was there no TV programme prepared to air the truth about the way that Blair and his colleagues reneged on a clear promise and betrayed the voters who put them into power?
When Tony Blair's Labour politicians roared into power they did so promising to bring trust and honesty back into politics. Gone, they said, were the Tory days of sleaze and corruption.
Millions of voters believed the rhetoric; relieved and delighted and ready to believe that the country would be, at last, in the hands of decent men and women.
But it was a trick.
The 'new' Labour government turned out to be no better than the government provided by the old Tory party. If an honest man truly is the noblest work of God then the Labour Party showed that it was a largely ignoble creation.
Both before and after the 1997 election the Labour government consistently claimed that it was offering a new, honest, trustworthy alternative. On the 2nd July 1997, speaking in the House of Commons, Tony Blair said: "When we make promises we will keep them."
In the end the success or failure of the anti-hunting bill wasn't about hunting or even animal rights. It was about integrity, honesty, trust and truth – all values which seemed to mean nothing to a Labour government which seemed to have 'hypocrisy' as its watchword.
I hated Margaret Thatcher's government. But at least we knew where we stood with her.
The failure to take the opportunity to ban hunting was not the only way in which the Labour government betrayed voters and animals.
In a pre-election leaflet entitled 'New Labour, New Britain', Tony Blair MP, the Labour leader, and Elliot Morley MP, claimed that theirs was the only party with firm policies on animal issues.
"Labour has consistently shown itself as the only part to trust on issues of animal welfare," they cried.
In the leaflet Blair and Morley claimed that they would support a Royal Commission "to review the effectiveness and justification of animal experiments, and to examine alternatives".
When the Labour Party was desperate to win votes, Elliot Morley, the Labour Party's Spokesman for Animal Welfare, writing on behalf of Tony Blair, told me that the Labour Party was "proposing a Royal Commission to investigate the claims that animals need to be used and to recommend on alternatives".
Morley told me that the Labour Party was committed to seeing an end to animal experiments.
Now it seems to me that was just a cynical ploy from the Labour Party to get votes.
A few months after Labour took power The Lord Williams of Mostyn, the Labour Party's Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office, told me that he did not believe that a Royal Commission into the use of animals in experiments was necessary. (It was shortly afterwards that another Labour Minister, Alun Michael MP, taking a slightly different approach, told me that the Labour party had never said when a Royal Commission would be introduced.)
Blair and his chums quickly proved themselves to be as contemptible as any Tory politicians in recent history.
Before the election the Labour Party had warned the electors that the Tories were planning to take money from pensioners. Within weeks of gaining power the Labour Party had grabbed millions from tomorrow's pensioners – skilfully removing around 18% from the incomes of future pensioners. It was a massive smash and grab raid on pensions which was designed to pay for cheap voter pleasing gimmicks.
Before the election I warned that I did not trust Blair and his cronies. But even I felt sick at heart at the way they callously threw aside the promises they made. It seemed to me that to the Labour government 'trust' was just a meaningless five letter word that could be converted into 'votes'.
The Labour Party claimed to be better and more honest than the Tories. But at least the Tories never made promises on animal issues which they didn't intend to keep.
When I asked John Major's Conservative government to tell me what they would do for animals if they won the election I received a reply from Douglas Hogg, Minister of Agriculture which was brutally honest.
"We recognise the enormous economic contribution...that field sports make to rural economy," said Hogg.
No vote catching promises there. The Tories didn't offer animal lovers anything much. But at least pro-animal campaigners knew where they stood.
Blair and his Labour Party cronies cynically made great promises which they rightly believed would help them win power.
And after winning the election they ignored those promises.
Yet More Betrayals
The betrayals have continued. Hunting and animal experiments were by no means the only area where the Labour government reneged on pre-election promises.
In the pro-animal leaflet designed to recruit support for the Labour Party before the election Tony Blair and Elliot Morley promised voters that, if elected, they would "put an immediate stop to badger culling". No perhaps. No maybe. No get outs. A straight promise.
"Labour," they boasted, "is the only party with carefully researched policies and the political will to carry them out." When, in August 1997, I asked Morley if they had stopped badger culling he wrote back and told me: "all badger removal operations in new areas have been suspended since the election".
(Note the phrase 'badger removal operations' instead of the simpler and more accurate 'badger killing'. I was amazed how quickly the Labour government had slipped into the glib gobbledegook bureauspeak of Orwell's 1984. They manage to make it sound as though they were moving the badgers to better accommodation – rather than killing them.)
I immediately wrote back and asked Morley to define the phrase: 'new areas'.
Jeff Rooker MP, Minister of State at the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, told me that the Labour Party had: "suspended the start of any new badger removal operations in areas where these have not taken place in recent years...this policy...will remain in place until Professor Krebs has completed his review."
Professor John Krebs was appointed by the Conservative government to "undertake an independent scientific review into bovine TV in cattle and badgers."
The Labour Party hadn't just broken yet another direct promise (to stop killing badgers) but they were trying to cover it up with governmentspeak. What they were saying was that they had stopped killing badgers except in places where they were already killing badgers!
In their pre-election leaflet – designed to win votes – the Labour Party had clearly promised: "We will, furthermore, conduct a full review of the question of badgers and bovine TB and put an immediate stop to badger culling pending the outcome of that review."
Note the words "immediate stop to badger culling". No mention of "new areas" when they were trying to get votes.
I also asked Morley to comment on a report I had received that it cost the taxpayer £2,900 to kill each badger. It seemed fair to say that the state organised mass murder of harmless and beautiful creatures was extraordinarily expensive as well as brutal and pointless.
Morley didn't comment on this figure but in two letters to me he moaned that: "no government has given such high priority to animal welfare" and claimed that Labour will be: "publishing a consultation paper on options for change".
No one in the Labour government seemed to understand that the voters did not want consultation papers, new promises, sweet talk or more Labour Party rhetoric. They just wanted the Labour Party to stick to the promises they had made before the election – promises which were abandoned as soon as the Labour Party acquired their Ministerial seats, cars and salaries.
Here is a summary of the pre-election promises which the Labour government has broken:
Before the election Labour promised that they would ensure that an anti-hunting bill would get all the Parliamentary time it needed to become law. After the election they changed their minds.
- Before the election Labour said they would hold a Royal Commission into animal experimentation. After the election they decided that a Royal Commission wasn't necessary.
- Before the election Labour said they would immediately suspend licences for hunting on Forestry Commission. After the election they said they'd hold a review.
- Before the election Labour promised an immediate stop to official badger killing. After the election they said they would allow it to carry on. In 1998 it became known that the Labour government had authorised the killing of badgers on a scale never before known in Britain. The Labour government decided to kill all the badgers in whole areas of British countryside.
- Before the election Labour announced itself totally opposed to fur farming and promised to take action to end it. After the Election Labour extended the licensing of fur farms for a further three years.
The Labour Party seems to believe it can ruthlessly and callously ignore its pre-election promises on animals because there aren't enough voters who really care about animals.
But there is also something else at stake here.
If the Labour Party is prepared to ignore its promises about animals simply because it thinks it can get away with it isn't it likely that it may also ignore its promises about the NHS, education and other issues that affect humans more directly?
Denials and Defences
Voters did not trust the Conservatives in 1997. Years of abuse of power, corruption, deceit and arrogance had alienated the electorate. But, largely perhaps because they knew relatively little about them, they did trust the Labour Party.
However, in the months which followed their victory in 1997 Labour Party politicians worked hard to distance themselves from the vote catching pre-election promises they had made – and which, because they had been believed, had undoubtedly helped them gain power.
When, in the months following their victory, I began to put pressure on the Labour Party to stick to those pre-election promises I was startled when I found that instead of being embarrassed about their broken promises the Labour Party was actually trying to deny that the promises had ever been made at all!
When a reader protested to Elliot Morley about Labour's broken promises Morley wrote: "I'm afraid you have been misinformed. Labour is implementing all its election pledges concerning animals. I never said at any time to Vernon Coleman that Labour could stop all animal experiments."
(In a pre-election letter to me Morley said that the Labour Party was committed to an "end to animal experiments". And, of course, the Labour Party had promised to support an anti-hunting bill.)
"You should be aware that Vernon Coleman seems more interested in attacking the Labour government than promoting the welfare of animals," wrote Morley.
"I assume it was for that reason he recently circulated a private letter I sent him before the election to pro-blood sports Tory MPs..."
(The letter to which Morley refers was sent to me as a newspaper columnist. It was, I assume, intended to help recruit support for the Labour Party. It was certainly not a 'private' letter. And as Morley knew I sent copies to all MPs.)
"He (VC) has also mislead [sic] you and you need to be very wary about anything he says," says the brass nerved Morley, presumably following the philosophy that the best form of defence is attack.
Many months, and many broken promises later, Labour were still at it. "Ministers who are dealing with animal welfare issues have demonstrated the will to put into practice in government the principles which we promoted in Opposition," wrote Home Office Minister Alun Michael MP in a letter to me dated 30th September 1998.
Even now, after re-reading the letter many times I still find it difficult that any one, presumably claiming to be sane, could possibly make such a statement.
Does Alun Michael seriously believe what he wrote?
And did he expect me to believe it?
The Greatest Modern Sin
Millions of people believe that we cannot have a kind and decent society until we are kind to all those – including animals – who are weaker than us and who are dependent upon us.
Millions believe that animal abuse is the greatest and most common modern sin in our society. Like me they believe that human power, wisdom and strength come with responsibilities, and that when we abdicate from those responsibilities we demean ourselves.
Thousands of people who voted for Tony Blair – and who did so because they believed they could trust him – were shell-shocked. Within the first few year of Labour taking office I received sackfuls of letters from voters who were angry, confused, bewildered and bitter. Many left the Labour Party. Thousands swore that they would never vote for Blair or the Labour Party again.
The Labour Party offered many people hope that politicians might once again prove to be honest and trustworthy people. Blair was idealised as the man who would lift Excalibur and lead Britain on into the twenty first century with pride and hope and passion.
But the Labour Party will go down in history as just another pack of politicians prepared to do anything necessary to obtain power. 'New Labour New Lies' would seem to be an appropriate slogan for the Labour Party in future.
I believe that historians will look back upon the Labour Party of the late 1990s as the party which finally destroyed public trust in politicians; the politicians who established for ever that politicians' promises have no value whatsoever; the politicians who finally proved that truth has no place in politics.
Tony Blair did to the voters who trusted him almost exactly what Bill Clinton is alleged to have done to Monica Lewinsky.
Many now believe that the Labour government has turned completely against those who believe in animal issues. "We're no worse than the Tories," say Labour politicians, clearly failing to understand that this is rather akin to a bank robber trying to excuse what he has done by pointing to someone else who has robbed a bank.
Free Speech Denied
In the summer of 1998, in an astonishing denial of free speech, the Labour government banned a rally where I intended to describe the government's broken promises on animal issues. I was stopped from attending the rally by a government authorised police road block.
"Blair and Labour betrayed us," said one animal lover. "They will betray everyone. No one should ever trust Blair or Labour again."
"You can't trust Tony Blair," chanted protestors at a rally in Trafalgar Square in the summer of 1998.
Labour And The Rich
When the Labour Party broke its pre-election promise to ban hunting there was much criticism of the fact that some members of the Labour Party were known to be close to Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles – both of whom were known to be enthusiastic supporters of hunting.
But these were not the only notable links between the Labour Party and the rich.
Within eighteen months of first taking office it slowly becoming clear just how much the Labour Party had become dependent upon, and beholden to, rich donors. It also became clear that the Labour Party had deliberately set out to woo new donors (and to obtain their money) by flattering them and asking for policy advice.
Many of the Labour Party's financial backers had, it emerged, been given key government roles. Fighting a media intensive general election had cost the Labour Party £26 million and had left it with a massive debt of over £3.6 million.
On 1st September 1998 I wrote to Tony Blair, leader of the Labour government, saying: "I was interested to read about the number of businessmen who have given money to the government and who have subsequently been given key government roles. I would like to have a key government role in the area of animal welfare, so that I can play a more active part in encouraging the government to stick to its clear pre-election promises on issues such as hunting and animal experimentation. What size of donation would you consider appropriate? I very much look forward to hearing from you."
Sadly, I did not receive a reply.
Perhaps I was not subtle enough. Perhaps I should have just popped round to Downing Street with a paper bag full of used £20 notes.
How And Why Animal Abusers Are Winning The Battle
"You're not on your way to success until the newspapers call you nuts, cranks and liars. "
Control Of The Media
The government does not want pro-animal campaigners to win and to threaten the status quo. It will do everything it can to make sure that pro-animal campaigns fail. By controlling the media, using force (through the police), using techniques such as marginalisation and, when necessary, simply removing the right to free speech, the government is determined to keep the upper hand.
Traditional forms of protest (such as marching in the streets with banners) are now no longer effective, unless the turn out is so huge that the government begins to worry about lost votes. (The pro-hunting rally held in London in 1997 is believed to have been big enough to influence the government.) Power is no longer about physical property, or even about wealth. It is more about how much media attention can be controlled.
It seems to me to be very clear that a government which is prepared to spend millions of pounds making sure that there is a huge police presence at every animal rights event (to make it clear to the world at large that pro-animal protestors are a dangerous bunch, to intimidate those who can be intimidated and to physically prevent some people reaching or speaking at protest sites) will spend public money suppressing the public's legal right to protest and will put a great deal of effort into controlling the media.
No Time For Values Or Policies
Political 'spin' is not a new concept. Josef Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda chief, was an early mass-media manipulator and image manager who would have found easy employment with the Labour Party in Britain today. Goebbels understood that the spin doctor's job is not just to create a positive image for his client but also to avoid unfavourable publicity. Damage limitation through news management is vital – particularly when image is all there is. The Labour Party is the first political party in Britain to be built like a Hollywood film sets – all front and no substance.
Tony Blair and his Labour Party colleagues were the first political leaders in Britain to really understand how power can be obtained and retained through media manipulation. It was, I believe, because of this understanding that the Labour government has worshipped so dutifully at the Church of St Rupert of Murdoch; the new twentieth century Sun King.
The Labour Party has very successfully controlled the media in Britain – partly through a series of headline catching promises, partly through judicious leaking of image boosting information, partly through using the old Nazi trick of distracting attention from one story by providing another story (Goebbels successfully drew attention away from the Holocaust by beginning a media campaign drawing attention to British atrocities in India and Palestine) and partly through doing financial deals with the media barons. ("Print good stuff about us and we'll make sure you don't have to worry about the Monopolies and Mergers Commission").
The Labour Party has recognised that journalists need crises to dramatise the news (and to sell newspapers or attract viewers) while politicians need to seem to be responding to crises. Neither politicians nor journalists really care about whether or not the crises are solved. They are interested solely in the short term. Problems are not worth reporting until they become crises which can be dramatised. And politicians only react when a crisis has already developed. (Politicians often use crises to further extend their own power. When terrorists set off a bomb politicians often respond to the crisis by introducing rapidly drafted new laws which give them more power.)
Naturally, a government which only acts in a crisis never has time to study values or to make any meaningful public policies. Modern politicians, as exemplified by the Labour Party, always react and respond rather than lead.
It is true that money talks – the problem is that it doesn't always tell the truth.
Modern politicians often do deals with media magnates who are far more likely to have links with animal abusers than with pro-animal campaigners. The proprietor of the Daily Whatsit may not actually have a potted meat factory in the basement but he is quite likely to have financial links with companies which are dependent upon animal abuse. There is no real money to be made out of campaigning for animals and so there is no chance of a proprietor being manipulated or persuaded by any such link.
Politicians want publicity which draws attention towards their promises, and their apparent good intentions, and away from their failures and their broken promises. Journalists and their editors want eye catching headlines. The relationship between politicians and the media bosses is a symbiotic one: everyone involved benefits.
A Nation Of Couch Potatoes
Most modern homes have more media related equipment today than a major news room would have had less than a decade ago. It is not uncommon to find a suburban home with a satellite dish, computer, modem, fax machine, photocopier and mobile telephone.
But those who control the media still control the world because most people are entirely passive – they are 'couch potatoes'; they do not take an active part in the media revolution. Most people simply stare at the television unquestioningly. They rarely even listen to what is said. (Media specialists who advise people on how to use television will warn that it is only possible to get across one thought in a single programme. They therefore encourage their clients to repeat the same notion for as long as they are on the air – and to ignore the questions of the interviewer.)
Most people simply sit back and allow themselves to be fed information and views that their corporate and political masters wish them to be fed.
Sadly, it is difficult to underestimate the intelligence of the average human being. A recent survey in the US showed that nearly half of all Americans think that human beings were created by god within the last 10,000 years. (They probably also think that god was American, a burger-eating, country & western fan and lived in Texas.) Whether you favour the theory of evolution or the idea of creation this shows a remarkable lack of knowledge of history and is, I suspect, symptomatic of an equally remarkable lack of curiosity. (Even more extraordinary is the fact that a quarter of American college graduates – who, one might have assumed to be a little better educated – believe that humans were created by god within the last 10,000 years.)
Children have, it is true, learned to interact with the media technology but, on the whole, they restrict their interacting to playing computer games or surfing the net in search of pornography.
The Court Of Power
We have to fight our battle in what Marshall McLuhan described as "the real court of power, the media". That is, of course, the court of power which the establishment uses. They know that perception is everything and that the myth is often the reality.
Most people trustingly believe everything they read in their daily newspaper or see on television. This demonstrates an innocence which no doubt delights the authorities. The truth is that everything which appears in newspapers or on television has been carefully edited to satisfy the prejudices of the owners and their political allies.
I truly believe that the best and most honest, sources of information these days are small independent publishers and privately published newsletters which do not have any exclusive or close links with outside commercial companies. Such publications may contain bias and prejudices but at least the bias and the prejudices belong to the authors and publishers rather than to some outside source. The ordinary reader is today most likely to obtain access to the genuine, underlying realities behind the 'news' through privately published newsletters and small presses.
Television: The Low Point
Television is probably the worst offender in the media.
Have you ever wondered how news crews so often happen to be in the right place at the right time when something newsworthy happens?
There are two explanations for this apparently inexplicable anomaly.
First, television stations are frequently given advance notice of events which politicians or others regard as newsworthy. News shows on television frequently broadcast pre-packaged interviews which they have been given by companies or political parties. Interviewers are told to toe the line and to be polite if they want to get any exclusive interviews in the future.
Second, if an impromptu event is missed the news crew can always recreate it. It is not unknown for TV producers to recreate news items they have missed or been unable to film.
Goebbels believed that Nazi media campaigns did not have to stand up to close examination as long as they were superficially convincing. This is, of course, exactly the same philosophy which is espoused both by the supporters of vivisection (who use the technique of intellectual terrorism to persuade people that animal experiments are essential and potentially life saving) and politicians (who simply make new promises when it becomes apparent that the public no longer believes their old promises, rightly assuming that most people are trusting and do not believe that even politicians could possibly dare to lie all the time).
Goebbels believed that primitive arguments were the most effective and that non rational techniques of persuasion were of vital importance.
As I have already pointed out I believe that the Labour government did a number of secret deals with significant parts of the British media before the last election ("you be nice to us and we'll be nice to you") and so it is hardly surprising that most parts of the British media have been enormously sympathetic, understanding, forgiving and loyal to a party which has broken promises like most people breathe air. I believe it is the existence of the secret deals which explains why the media has largely failed to report or comment on or criticise those broken promises.
To a certain extent this has not made a great deal of difference as far as animal issues are concerned. Broadsheet newspapers, TV stations and radio stations have obeyed commercial dictates and followed a strictly pro-animal abuse agenda for many years.
Even the language used in broadsheet newspapers seems designed to affect the way in which readers respond to what they read. While writing this book, for example, I read about mink kept four to a cage in a farm where mink are bred to be turned into fur coats. The journalist who wrote the article described the caged mink as 'snuggling' up to one another in their tiny cages. The word 'snuggling' suggests cosy and comfortable informality. The reality is that the mink probably didn't much have choice about whether they 'snuggled' up to one another or not.
It is rare indeed for any broadsheet newspaper to publish any pro-animal sentiments.
Ignorance And Misinformation
Most people say nothing about cruelty to animals for three reasons.
First, they often don't know what goes on in laboratories, in abattoirs and on farms and in other centres of animal abuse.
Second, they don't believe that animals are capable of suffering.
Third, they do believe that using animals – even if unpleasant – is essential. They falsely believe that without eating meat they will die. They falsely believe that if experiments are not performed on animals then their children will die slow and painful deaths.
The key factor here is, of course, ignorance. But the ignorance is compounded by misinformation.
Keep On Taking The Tabloids
Over the years tabloid newspapers have always been far more willing to publish pro-animal campaign stories. This is for two reasons. First, the so called redtop tabloid newspapers, having much larger circulations, are less dependent on advertising revenue and can take a tougher line with big, powerful corporations. Second, the popular newspapers (which have a large readership) are more likely to publish stories which their editors feel might appeal to their readers rather than their advertisers.
This revelation may come as something of a surprise to many of those pro-animal campaigners who routinely buy and read broadsheet newspapers in the mistaken belief that they are more likely to provide an honest and fair interpretation of the news than tabloid newspapers.
Broadsheet newspapers – having smaller budgets and more space to fill, as well as a smaller inclination to upset powerful commercial advertisers – are far more likely to publish pre-packaged press releases and one sided articles glorifying animal research, genetic engineering or some other wonder of science than are the tabloids.
Broadsheets, although often vapid, bland and unimaginative, are even more likely to bend, spin and manipulate the news for their own purposes than are the tabloids.
Tabloids are often regarded as being unbelievable compared to the mainstream media, but if the same story appears in a tabloid and a broadsheet newspaper, and there are factual differences between the two stories, then it is safe to assume that the story in the tabloid is the accurate one.
I am not suggesting that tabloids always tell the truth. But they certainly tell the truth more often than the broadsheets (or 'unpopulars' as they are sometimes known). There is, indeed, a strong argument to be made that real journalism (including investigative journalism) now only exists in the tabloid newspapers.
I first learned the truth about the broadsheets a couple of decades or so ago when I was invited to write an article about 24 hours in the life of a hospital casualty department for a weekly magazine published by a broadsheet newspaper. The 24 hours I spent in the hospital casualty department was relatively quiet and the article I wrote described the air of expectation, the boredom, and the waiting rather than the excitement, the violence, the fear, the blood and the death that the editors had obviously expected.
Disappointed by the lack of action the magazine editor told me to go back, spend more time in the casualty department and wait for something exciting to happen. He wanted me to 'create' an exciting but 'fake' 24 hour period. In my innocence I was horrified and refused to do as he asked. Naturally, the article never appeared in print. What I did not realise then was that this was normal. Reality is often just not exciting enough.
What many readers forget is that the sole function of the modern media is to make money; it will do this more easily by amusing and diverting readers and viewers than by providing them with genuine information.
Broadsheets pretend to be eager to provide their readers with the truth but in reality they often stagger from day to day alternately scaring and then reassuring their readers. Scientific research is regularly and widely misused in order to help corporations and politicians to fulfil their objectives. Many people still believe that the words 'scientific research' guarantee the quality and provenance of the information which accompanies it. Sadly this simply isn't true. Large companies know that they can obtain whatever scientific results they want merely by hiring the right scientists. Scientific fraud is commonplace even in academic circles and so it is hardly surprising that when a company tells its highly paid scientists to find evidence proving that its new product is safe the scientists will find a way to do what they are told. Nearly all published and promoted scientific research these days is patently self-serving.
Surveys and polls are another easy way to manipulate the media. Ask the right questions and you can get exactly the results you want. Concocted and inaccurate surveys taint our perceptions of the truth and distort public debates. Once a survey has found its way into the public consciousness it is exceedingly difficult (or even impossible) to remove it.
And so vivisectionists will conduct surveys proving that scientists, doctors and members of the public all think that animal experiments are essential. They do this by asking the right questions.
For example, if you ask the question: "Do you agree that experiments on rats should be continued so that doctors can find new treatments to help save the lives of children with leukaemia?" the majority of the people being questioned will respond as the questioner wants them to respond.
The broadsheet papers are written largely by pro-establishment conservatives and they are written for people with many well-established, traditional prejudices. These people have, of course, already been taken in by the 'let's keep abusing animals' arguments. (Indeed, they often have a personal financial interest in maintaining and spreading these arguments. For example, many medical and science journalists do additional – and frequently well paid work – for magazines and newspapers which obtain financial support from the drug industry.)
The broadsheets trivialise arguments just as much as the tabloids but they tend to do it less skilfully, with less flair and with less fairness. The tabloids may appear to be hysterical but they are more likely to be independent and they are, therefore, more likely to publish material which is sympathetic to the pro-animal cause.
The broadsheet newspapers are, I believe, more likely to be edited by pro-hunting animal abusers and it is important to remember that, because they do not pay as well as the tabloids, they may be staffed by second-rate journalists, writers and columnists who are far less intelligent than their tabloid counterparts.
News Into Drama
Boring political news was first turned into dramatic and exciting and readable material by Joseph Pulitzer in the US. In 1883 he bought the New York World and started turning straight news stories into drama. He gave dull stories plots and turned dull characters into actors in the dramas. He introduced conflict and ensured that his stories were packed with colourful details. He made his stories even more dramatic by giving them loud, clever, irresistible headlines, illustrating them with photographs and adding graphics too. He (and his newspaper) turned institutional minutiae into emotional, sensational and immediate news.
In recent decades the growth of television (and, in particular, of 24 hour news television) has increased the need for drama in the news. And since camera crews can't be everywhere at once it has meant that the news has become steadily more and more stage managed. Lobbyists, special interest groups and big business PR departments have all learned the way to play the game – and have all learned how to put forward their own versions of reality.
Image makers for big corporations use a vast armoury of tricks to deflect criticism, and to improve the public perception of their products and their companies. Most big corporations will go along with whichever politicians are in power. Opposing governments has never been a good way to get (or stay) rich.
The press is used to promote public illusions and to help maintain private privilege. Appearance and reality are today further apart than at any time in history.
The media today has, by its willingness to take part in this gross deceit, corrupted democracy, enabled politicians to lie and survive, and cheated the public.
Newspapers, radio and television disseminate the news they are given but they do not disseminate the truth. The propaganda is spread faithfully but the substance is ignored. Real, underlying conflict is glossed over.
Subtleties Are Important
The way in which the news is presented can have a tremendous impact on the way it is received. Apparently small, subtle changes can make a huge difference to the way readers and viewers form their opinions.
For example, people who read a headline which says "Animal experiments are worthless" are less likely to believe that animal experiments are worthless than are people who read a headline which says "Are animal experiments worthless?"
And, curiously, research has shown that a denial in a headline doesn't make much difference to the way in which those who read it will perceive it.
So, for example, most people who read the headline "Vivisectors deny that animal experiments are useless" will, nevertheless, believe that animal experiments are useless.
People tend to believe what they read in a headline wherever they read it. Even if they see it in a newspaper for which they have little or no respect the chances are high that they will still believe it. People who read the underlying story are unlikely to be convinced by the facts if they have already read a headline. And people who only read the headline will, of course, go away with the headline's message firmly implanted in their minds.
Many people say that they do not read newspapers at all. Or that they ignore certain classes of newspaper. Unless they never go into newsagents shops those people are deluding themselves. Research done in the US has shown that people who read (or glance at) headlines, but don't read the stories accompanying those headlines, will believe the messages in the headlines. Mass, subliminal messages can easily be spread through newspaper headlines.
It Is Essential To Make People Think
In order to produce change it is necessary to create phrases which make people think.
People tend to listen to, take note of, and to remember rhetoric and promises rather than facts. To ignore these sad facts is to say 'no' to the possibility of power.
One of the most effective ways to have an impact is to take two words which don't normally go together (for example the words 'smart' and 'drugs') and then use them to make a phrase. The phrase 'smart drugs' is eye and mind catching because the combination of these two words is thought provoking.
My own favourite phrase is 'intellectual terrorism'. I coined this phrase some years ago and use it to describe the actions of the animal abusers when they try to frighten people into accepting that vivisection is essential by telling them that if animal experiments are stopped their children may die of terrible diseases.
By accusing those who use this argument of 'intellectual terrorism' we quickly and easily put them on the defensive. Even more important is the fact that such phrases, once used, tend to stick in the listener's brain. Once there they are difficult to remove.
The phrase 'animal abuser', which I have used throughout this book to describe anyone who opposes animal rights, also has a powerful impact and should, I believe, be used widely by those who want to further the rights of animals. Anyone who opposes animal rights can safely and accurately be described as an animal abuser.
Some time ago I was surprised when I received a furious telephone call from an editor who had on his desk something I had written. The item which had made him so upset was a short piece in which I made the point that butchers shops which display skinless corpses are offensive to large parts of the community. The editor's complaint was about the entirely accurate phrase 'skinless corpse' which he said he found deeply offensive.
The lesson here is simple: we should use the phrase 'skinless corpse' as often as possible since it reminds meat eaters that what they are eating was once a living, sentient being.
(The long established comments "I don't eat anything with eyes" and "I don't eat my friends" are provocative and useful. I also like to tell people that "I don't eat humans or animals".)
We Have To Shock
We have to be more prepared to shock if we are to combat the media manipulators who are controlling our lives (and enabling the animal abusers to stay in business).
For example, it is widely believed by the British people that Princess Diana was murdered. Polls show that around 98% of the British population believe that she was killed by the British secret service. Tony Blair was Prime Minister when Diana died and the Labour Party was in power. That's all we have to say. We can safely let people draw their own conclusions.
Many pro-animal campaigners try to be tactful when complaining about the way other nations treat animals. The time for tact has gone. Diplomacy has got us nowhere. The Spanish people claim to be the most religious in Europe. And yet they treat animals in a way that makes it clear that they are still barbarians. They honour their matadors as heroes. We should not be shy about describing matadors (and others involved in the bullfight business) as little more than cowardly and overpaid abattoir workers. The Spanish depend very much on the income they gain from British tourists. Let us try to persuade holidaymakers to boycott Spain. A similar, tough approach can be used against other nations where cruelty to animals is endemic.
Use New Techniques To Spread Messages
If you bring together two images which are not usually thought of as being associated with one another then the brain of the person who is fed the resultant composite image will be shocked. The owner of the brain will find it difficult to get rid of the image. This can be useful because shocking and surprising images often make the reader think carefully. Research has shown that images which do not fit the norm require the creation of special new neural pathways just to be evaluated. And so shocking and startling images often last for a long time – as well as making the reader more vulnerable and open to other new ideas.
It was for this reason that in my book Fighting for Animals (published by the European Medical Journal) I used beautiful pictures of animals in serene surroundings to illustrate hideous quotes from vivisection research papers.
When talking or writing about important issues it can also help to try putting a vision within a vision. ("I was in my car, driving from London to Birmingham, when I found myself thinking back to a time when, in 1987 I...") This is an extremely effective way to imprint messages on the listeners brain when telling them something you want them to remember. (But beware – this technique is extremely effective. US President Reagan is reported to have once tried using this technique but ended up putting himself into a trance and losing his train of thought completely.)
We have to be prepared to manage the news more effectively.
The myth about AIDS and heterosexuals was devised because gay activists realised that they would get nowhere if AIDS remained a gay disease. I remember doing a radio broadcast with a gay activist after I had written a number of articles arguing that since AIDS is primarily a blood borne disease it is far more likely to be transmitted via sexual activities (such as anal intercourse) which result in bleeding than it is to be transmitted by other forms of sexual intercourse. After the broadcast the campaigner agreed with me that I was absolutely right and told me that he and other gays had agreed that in order to get funding for AIDS research they had to turn AIDS into a disease which was perceived as being a threat to heterosexuals as well as a threat to homosexuals.
The 'AIDS kills heterosexuals' campaign was so convincing and so effective (despite the absence of supporting scientific evidence) that most journalists and politicians ended up believing it. For several years I was widely vilified in the press and on TV for having dared to tell the truth about the disease. (Many TV producers allegedly making open-minded programmes about AIDS refused to let me onto their programmes unless I promised not to discuss the possibility that AIDS might not be a major threat to heterosexuals. The result was, of course, that the myth was strengthened still further.) I can understand why gay activists did what they did. And it was an extremely effective manipulation.
Pro-animal campaigners also have to learn how to manage the news.
Vivisectionists will frequently argue that animal experiments save patients lives. They will refer to individual cases of patients alleged to have been saved by animal experimentation. This is, of course, absolute nonsense. No animal experiment has ever been responsible for saving or even helping to save a patient's life. We have to counter these absurd (but often believed) claims by referring to individual patients who have been killed or injured by misleading animal experimentation. This isn't difficult to do. (Readers will find case histories of patients who were killed by animal experimentation in my book How To Stop Your Doctor Killing You, published by the European Medical Journal).
Meat trade promoters sell their product by warning consumers that without meat and meat products they will become vitamin or mineral deficient.
We have to counter this absurd lie with the truth: that eating meat is unhealthy and that those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet are much less likely to become deficient in essential vitamins and minerals.
Perception Or Truth
As any student of history will confirm the reality is that the truth is far less important than the reader's perception of the truth. Naturally, the media manipulators take full advantage of this. They know that headline readers tend to believe a headline whatever the underlying facts may be.
So, when politicians and cosmetic companies agreed to a modest reduction in the number of animals used in experiments headlines appeared which suggested that animal experiments were being stopped altogether. In reality the change meant that the millions of animals being tortured and killed would be reduced by between 250 and 300 a year but that wasn't the impression given when the story appeared in the newspapers.
The story as it was run benefited three groups of people. The cosmetics companies looked good. The Labour party politicians managed to grab the glory and look good (and they succeeded in distracting attention away from the fact that they had failed to create a Royal Commission to investigate the scientific value of vivisection – as they had promised to do before they were elected to power). And editors had a grabby headline which helped them sell newspapers. Very few readers who saw the headlines realised that hardly anything had changed.
This was a perfect example of perception winning over truth – and an excellent example of how the Labour Party manages its affairs. Everyone involved knew that the headlines were self aggrandising manipulations – created simply for the way they would benefit businesses and politicians and distract attention from the real issues and the real truths – but no one cared about that.
The Labour Party has created a culture of deceit, trickery and lying and the media has been a willing helper.
It is a grave mistake to assume that truth alone is enough to enable us to win on behalf of the animals. Sadly, many aspects of the truth are irrelevant. You may or may not agree with it, but in political terms the important thing in this world is perception – not truth. (Though, of course, if the truth is widely publicised it can have an important effect on perception.)
The fact is that reality has not helped us win freedom and respect for animals. For centuries now pro-animal campaigners have been relying solely on the truth – and getting nowhere. One problem is that the truth is often unpleasant and unpalatable. Many people do not want – and cannot cope with – the truth.
For example, pro-animal campaigners have often published horrific photographs of animals in distress. Many books and leaflets have been published showing pictures of animals in cages or laboratories. But sensitive and caring individuals find such photographs too awful to look at. And, by definition, insensitive and uncaring individuals simply do not care.
Pro-animal campaigners have published books and numerous articles proving that meat causes cancer, and that animal experiments are not just worthless but are actually a hazard to human health. But time and time again the truth has been defeated by perception. The lies told by the animal abusers have consistently defeated the truths told by the pro-animal campaigners.
Historians know well that history is all about myths and perceptions and has very little to do with the real truth. We have to be aware that although the truth is important, and will eventually bring light to the darkest corner, perception is often more important than truth when we are trying to change the present and improve the future.
The Rope A Dope Technique
If you are attacked by a vivisectionist or other animal abuser then you should try not to attack back. You should make yourself the underdog. You should try not to rise to the bait. Remain dignified.
I remember doing a morning radio programme with a presenter called Melvyn Bragg some years ago. I was invited onto the programme to put the anti vivisection case but Bragg (who later became 'famous' among pro-animal campaigners for expressing the, in my view, bizarre argument that since animals are not sentient creatures we can happily hunt them) gave me a really hard time.
I refused to get angry or to walk off the programme (although the temptation was great) and afterwards the BBC was almost submerged with mail attacking Bragg for not letting me speak and put my case. A few days later a BBC programme based upon listeners letters was devoted almost entirely to protests.
I call this the 'rope a dope' technique after the technique used by Muhammed Ali when fighting George Foreman for the world heavyweight boxing crown. The fight took place in very hot conditions. Ali stayed on the ropes for several rounds allowing Foreman to attack him and use up all his energy. Then, when Foreman was exhausted and had thrown all his punches, Ali struck back. (In my case, of course, it was the listeners – not me – who struck back.)
It is important to remember that the attacking interviewer wants you to respond by losing your temper. What sort of programme would an investigative TV reporter make if the crooks he chased talked to him calmly, defended themselves, denied his allegations and then slowly walking away?
Would modern India exist if Gandhi had hit out at the people who vilified him?
We Have To Work Together
The real tragedy is that those human beings who protest on behalf of animals would have probably won battle victories some years ago (and maybe even a victory in the major war against animal cruelty) if they had worked together.
But pro-animal campaigners fight one another even more fiercely than they fight the animal abusers.
During the years in which I have been fighting for animals I have lost count of the number of lies which have been told about me by people who describe themselves as caring about animals. There are some individuals, allegedly members of the animal rights movement, who are apparently driven by little other than vanity, and who spend most of their time (and the money they can raise from others) vilifying those who put their heart and soul into fighting for animals. (One of the many absurd examples of this concerned my Fellowship of the Royal Society of Medicine. I had remained a Fellow of the RSM because I felt that it added extra credibility when I was debating the issue of vivisection with those who supported animal experimentation. But at one point I was being challenged by the Royal Society of Medicine because a publisher had mentioned my Fellowship on the cover of a book I had written, while at the same time I was being attacked mercilessly by alleged pro-animal campaigners for being a Fellow of an organisation which was deemed to be part of the medical establishment.)
The individuals who snipe and whinge and back stab always attack any new attempt to defeat animal abuse (though they are themselves always slow to come forward when leaflets have to be handed out, envelopes stuffed or print bills paid). They always seem quick to identify difficulties and they always concentrate on the problems not the possibilities.
But what have the sceptics got to offer which is better?
Maybe they are content with the thought that the animal abusers are a dying breed. Maybe they comfort themselves with the thought that since the animal abusers usually eat meat they will die younger of cancer, heart disease and other serious disorders. Maybe they are content to trust in the hope that vegetarians and vegans will live longer, be stronger and will eventually take over the world.
I find it impossible to take such a relaxed attitude about the cruelty which exists in our world.
Every day vivisectors around the world torture and kill one thousand animals every thirty seconds. Countless millions of animals live short miserable lives in terrible conditions so that they can be slaughtered and turned into harmburgers. Our streets are decorated with skinless corpses, hanging inside and outside butchers shops and apparently causing little or no revulsion among the nearby shoppers. Ruthless farmers, who would do anything for money, cram wild animals into tiny cages so that rich women can wander through the streets (past the butchers shops where the skinless corpses are displayed) in fur coats.
Andrew Tyler, of the organisation Animal Aid, recently reported that when two women were running an animal rights stall in London a policeman ordered them to remove a poster showing a cow on a slaughter line. "Shackled and suspended upside down by a back leg, her throat had just been stabbed by the slaughterman and blood was oozing from the wound: the daily reality in hundreds of UK killing plants. The officer said the image was 'offensive' to the public and it had to come down."
"But just along the road," Tyler reports one of the women as saying to the policeman, "there's a butcher's shop with decapitated pigs hanging on a hook in the window. All their feet have been broken and half hacked off. I find that offensive and upsetting."
The policeman did not change his mind. His mind, reported Tyler, was closed to the subject.
It is, surely, that sort of inbuilt, long-standing, prejudice; that blindness; which we should be fighting.
How much longer are we going to allow the in-fighting to continue?
Organisations such as Greenpeace have for many years been aware that good stunts which attract media attention can, and often do, have a dramatic effect on public opinion and may instigate more discussion and more debate than legal protests made through more traditional channels.
Unfortunately, media stunts may sometimes be used by, and to the advantage of, the people they were originally designed to embarrass. Political and corporate media manipulators never sleep. If they see something in a newspaper which displeases them they will talk to the editor before the next edition is printed – and they will make sure that the story is spun to their advantage. Most big companies (and most political departments) regard communication as being just as important as policy. Many of the stories which appear in broadsheet newspapers, and on television and radio, are fed to the media by skilful public relations experts. Communications managers and public affairs directors (they used to be known as public relations people) constantly monitor everything that appears about their paymasters. If an unfavourable story appears on a TV news programme the communications manager will be on the telephone to the newsdesk in time to have the story 'corrected' for the next news broadcast.
It is worthwhile noting, incidentally, that modern journalists are often easy to push around because they rarely research their stories themselves. They often print what they have gleaned from a press release and so if the originator of the press release doesn't like their interpretation of the story they are not in a good position to resist requests for alterations. (If a gentle request for a more favourable rewrite doesn't work a lawyer will telephone or fax with a thinly veiled threat of litigation.)
In August 1998 pro-animal campaigners marched through London to a rally in Trafalgar Square held to protest about the Labour Party's failure to fulfil its pre-election promises. Several thousand angry voters joined the march and attended the demonstration and were, inevitably, joined by a small army of policemen and women (The Metropolitan Police refused to give me the numbers but my guess is that there were between 750 and 1000 police officers present and that the whole police operation, including vehicles, helicopters and so on must have cost considerably in excess of £100,000. I would be surprised if more than one arrest was made that day.)
On the same day a group of undoubtedly frustrated animal rights activists released 6,000 mink from a mink farm in the New Forest. (It seems safe to assume that, in view of the timing, one aim of the release may have been to draw attention to the Labour Party's failure to fulfil its pre-election promises on animal issues.)
The demonstration and the rally received hardly any national news coverage but the release of the mink attracted massive national coverage for several days.
The stories this action attracted (even the alleged news stories) seemed to me to be almost universally prejudiced, unbalanced and quite unfairly anti-animal.
They were used largely as an excuse to drag out hoary old pseudologic such as 'animals take no responsibilities and cannot therefore expect to be given any rights'. (I have dealt with this absurd and easily demolished claim earlier in this book).
The mink farmers and their supporters were forced into public discussion of their work (phrases such as 'the mink are harvested by gassing' may not have gone down too well with some members of the public) and the releasing of the mink did attract attention to one Labour Party broken promise (its failure to halt fur farming).
But the coverage was quickly manipulated to suit the purposes of the animal abusers. The released mink were reported to be attacking babies and family pets and to be killing wildlife. These reports, created by pro-animal abusers desperate to minimise the damage that might be done by the fact that attention had been drawn to mink farming (and the Labour Party) were designed to gain the support of animal lovers as well as everyone else.
For the animals the real tragedy is, perhaps, the fact that too many pro-animal groups seem quick to criticise and to support the animal abusers' carefully planned line of attack.
So, when the mink were released into the countryside and the animal abusers set out to limit the media damage that was likely to be done, they obtained support from animal welfare groups – thereby dividing the pro-animal lobby very effectively.
(Just about every pro-animal demonstration I have ever attended has been condemned by one or more allegedly pro-animal groups.)
Stunts may help us win minor victories, they may make us feel that we are doing something useful but they will not help us win. Stunts are merely skirmishes in a great war. Nevertheless, it is clear that simple stunts which are genuinely newsworthy, and irresistible to the media, do attract publicity (and sometimes subsequent discussion of the relevant issues) whereas attempts to obtain discussion of those same issues through properly organised public protests are more easily ignored.
In the past civil disobedience often attracted attention and, historically, it has often resulted in action and change. Today, however, I do not believe that civil disobedience (or any form of violence) works as effectively as it used to. This is largely because of the effectiveness of the technique of marginalisation which is used by modern politicians, who are, generally speaking, much more repressive and manipulative than their predecessors.
Media stunts are much more likely to be effective than civil disobedience.
We have to develop media stunts which target the culture in which we live. For example, we could argue that the whole concept of human superiority is the ultimate form of racism in that it puts the human race above other species. A series of formal complaints to the Race Relations Board might or might not produce a useful result – but they would certainly provoke some thought.
The Press Complaints Commission
In an article, in which I attacked hunting and animal experimentation, I warned readers that meat causes cancer. I wrote, quite accurately, that there is: "now 22 carat gold evidence available to show that people who eat meat are far more likely to get cancer and die young".
I wasn't particularly surprised when the Meat and Livestock Commission complained to Britain's Press Complaints Commission (PCC) saying: "The claims made in the article are both damaging to the industry and could be greatly disturbing to the public...".
The PCC asked for evidence supporting my statement that: "young people who eat meat are far more likely to get cancer and die young."
I sent several pages of scientific references, including a seven year study of 35,460 people, published in the journal Cancer Research. The scientists who wrote that report concluded:"it is quite clear that these results are supportive of the hypothesis that beef, meat and saturated fat or fat in general are etiologically related to colon cancer."
There isn't room here to list all the scientific references I sent in support of my claim. But the Press Complaints Commission found in favour of the Meat and Livestock Commission. They reported that the MLC: "denied that there was any evidence to link the consumption of meat with the cause of cancer".
I asked the PCC what medical or scientific proof the MLC had provided to support their claim that meat does not cause cancer.
I asked if any members of the PCC had medical qualifications.
And I asked if the PCC had hired any medical or scientific experts to look at the references I sent supporting my statement that meat does cause cancer.
I also sent the PCC photocopies of more journal articles proving that meat causes cancer.
The copies included one published in the British Medical Jour nal which stated: "previous studies...have shown a reduction in all cause, cancer and cardiovascular mortality among people who do not eat meat".
I also sent papers from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute ("animal fat, especially from red meat, is associated with an elevated risk of advanced prostate cancer"); the New England Journal of Medicine ("animal fat was positively associated with the risk of colon cancer") and the International Journal of Cancer ("frequent consumption of...red meat is a risk factor for colo-rectal cancer").
In its judgement the PCC complained that my article contained: "no acknowledgement of any opposing view".
I found that rather surprising. My original comments had been made in a newspaper column. I was hired, and paid, to present my personal opinions to my readers. It was perfectly clear that the column was not intended to offer a balanced viewpoint.
Drama critics, book reviewers, sports reporters and political commentators are not expected to acknowledge opposing views in their articles. Cookery writers who publish meat recipes are not instructed to include vegetarian recipes for vegetarians. But, according to the Press Complaints Commission, if I write an article about meat I am not allowed to state my view that meat is dangerous without reminding readers that the Meat and Livestock Commission does not agree with me. I am supposed to remember that the meat industry might suffer financial loss if I attack it. (The PCC seemed to ignore the fact that if I make statements which are false I can be sued for libel.)
It is my view that by upholding the meat industry protest the Press Complaints Commission may (if it has any influence at all) have helped to delay the dissemination of the truth and to dissuade other writers from repeating the well established fact that meat causes cancer. How many unnecessary deaths do the PCC members now have on their conscience?
(It is, incidentally, interesting to note that in a full page advertisement in the Financial Times in November 1998 it was reported that advertising bought for the Meat & Livestock Commission had won an award as one of 1998's most effective advertising campaigns. The FT advertisement included this citation: "Advertising from 1994-97 supported the meat market from a barrage of social, ethical and economic factors and the biggest ever health scare to hit any food market – BSE. Advertising reduced the impact of these factors, slowed the rate of decline in red meat eating and in 1997 restored the market to year-on-year growth. A total media spend in the period of £36.2 million resulted in additional red meat sales of £739 million, a return of nearly 18 to 1.")
Misled, Lied To And Manipulated
The public is constantly being misled, lied to and manipulated. Most branches of the news media are unfair, inaccurate, contentious and under the control of powerful institutions which adhere faithfully to well hidden agendas.
Generally speaking, the editors of broadsheet newspapers and the producers of radio programmes and television programmes can be considered to be pro-establishment, pro status quo and pro-animal abuse. If a pro-animal campaigner is quoted on animal issues (such as vivisection) his remarks will invariably either be accompanied by some patronising or disparaging note or by disapproving comments by an alleged expert who holds an opposing (pro-animal abuse) viewpoint. On the other hand when a pro-animal abuse individual is quoted the remarks will invariably be quoted without comment, criticism or qualification.
The animal abusers have so successfully established the belief that animals are here to be used that most allegedly independent commentators find it difficult to accept that there can possibly be any alternative to animal abuse. When, on a rare radio interview I opposed the intellectual terrorism of vivisection and calmly and quietly explained why vivisection is not, never has been and never can be of any value to human beings, the allegedly independent presenter, who was perhaps aggrieved because he had been unable to destroy my arguments, ended the interview by describing me as 'controversial' and reminding the listeners that I had been 'expressing a personal view'.
Quality Of Reporting Set To Decline Still Further
I wish our news media could be forced to identify the source and sponsor of every piece of news they print. A news story which had the source of the press release printed at the bottom of it would be far more honest than the present system.
That won't happen. It would not be in the interests of the media and it would not be in the interests of the sources of the stories.
Nor will our media ever become more responsible or deliberate than they are at the moment. Speed is the very essence of the newsroom and the demand for more new information is constant and insatiable. As the number of television channels, radio stations and publications increases so the demand for more information (and for 'exclusives' or 'scoops') will also increase. Ethics and moral values will take even more of a back seat. The quality of reporting is set to decline a good deal further in the coming years.
Animal Abusers Control The Media
The animal abusers and their supporters (and I include politicians among those supporters) have successfully taken overall control of the media. If those of us who campaign on behalf of animals are to win the war against animal abuse then we have to do something non-violent but dramatic. We have to prove to the politicians, and the business leaders who approve of animal abuse, that pro-animal campaigners can no longer be ignored.
In our present climate the directions of change are managed by those who are most skilful at feeding the media with the news it needs – and who are most skilful in manipulating whatever crises develop to their own advantage. Propagandists and lobbyists ultimately rule our world because they control both the media and the politicians.
Pro-animal campaigners constantly lose these battles because of a failure to understand how to control all aspects of the modern game. The animal abusers are more skilful at managing crises and manipulating the media and they generally win these exchanges.
Intellectual And Emotional Terrorism
One of the classic false arguments used by animal abusers is to warn anyone thinking of joining or supporting the animal rights movement in general, and the anti-vivisection campaign in particular, that if they oppose animal experiments (and are successful in calling for an end to animal experiments) they will, inevitably, be exposing themselves and their families to the risk that when they fall ill they will be deprived of life saving treatments which would have been available had scientists been allowed to continue performing animal experiments.
"Of course we all love animals," the hypocritical animal abusers will claim. "We all wish that animal experiments weren't necessary. But the sad fact is that animal experiments are essential if we are to find a cure for (and here the animal abuser will insert a popular or fashionable disease or the name of the disease of which he knows the listener is frightened or the name of the disease which he knows already affects the listener or a member of his family) then animal experiments simply must continue."
This technique, which I describe as 'intellectual terrorism', works well for the animal abusers. It frightens ordinary people who may not have access to the facts and it undoubtedly frightens many who are simply so afraid of disease and death that they will cling to any hope which is offered.
A commonly used extension of this technique is to tell anti-vivisection campaigners that if they are going to be true to their beliefs, and not take advantage of the experiments on animals which have been done, then they (and their families) have to refuse to accept any modern medical treatment.
This despicable and utterly ruthless trick, which I consider to be cruel and brutal as well as thoroughly dishonest, frightens many and puts many more off the idea of opposing animal experimentation.
In 1998 vivisectionists started to issue something which called 'Animal Research Abolition Cards'. The cards contained the following message: "To honour my belief that animal research should be abolished, I hereby pledge that: In the event of accident or emergency, I will refuse all medical treatments developed or tested on animals, including but not limited to: blood tranfusions, anaesthetics, anticoagulants, antibiotics, sutures, open heart and other types of surgery. If my child suffers from a genetic illness or other serious condition, I will not allow them to have life saving treatment developed through animal research. None of my pets shall receive any veterinary vaccine or medicine that has been developed or tested on animals."
These cards were sent to those who oppose animal experimentation suggesting that they sign them.
As I believe vivisectionists ought to know perfectly well, the evidence shows quite clearly that animal experiments are without value to doctors or patients. (Two vivisectionists once appeared on a TV programme with me where the whole issue was debated – at the end of the programme, when viewers were asked to vote on the issue, I, who had argued that animal experiments are of no value, have never been of value and never will be of value, received 84% of the vote.)
But the creator of this card had avoided this slight technical problem by including the phrase "developed or tested on animals', thereby neatly side stepping the issue of whether animal experiments had been of any value whatsoever.
I am appalled by this specialised type of what I consider to be intellectual terrorism.
Many caring and active anti-vivisectionists have died prematurely because they have been encouraged, quite falsely, to believe that all modern medical treatments have been developed as a result of animal experimentation. Many people who care about animals do refuse essential treatment, do suffer unnecessarily (and probably do die prematurely) because they have believed this piece of nonsensical and mischievous animal abuse propaganda. For example, in December 1998 comedian and author Spike Milligan reported that his wife had died from cancer, having refused to use any known medicines that had been used in animal experimentation. "It wasn't easy for her," wrote Mr Milligan, "but she died with a clear conscience."
I have, over the years, received numerous letters from readers suffering from serious health problems telling me that they are refusing to take drugs which have been tested on animals. I usually try to write back to such correspondents and point out that my view is that since animal experiments are entirely pointless there is absolutely no need for any animal lover to refuse to take a drug which may have a beneficial effect on his or her health.
I also point out that if someone who cares about animals dies prematurely (for no good reason) then animals will be losing another champion.
I believe that those who are guilty of originating and perpetuating this type of intellectual terrorism are directly responsible for many deaths.
Deceit And Trickery
This cruel variety of pro-vivisection propaganda is based on a hypothesis that has been proved to be entirely false. All the available evidence shows (quite conclusively and, I believe, beyond argument or dispute) that animal experiments are not, never have been and never will be, of any value whatsoever to doctors or patients. I have for years successfully argued that no vivisector has ever produced any evidence which is of value. (No vivisectionist has ever beaten me in debate on this issue and these days they are so tired of defeat – and embarrassed at having no evidence to support their outrageous contentions – that they refuse to debate with me.)
Indeed, on the contrary, the evidence shows that the drug industry's reliance on animal experimentation when developing and testing new drugs is one of the main reasons why one in six patients in hospital are there because they have been made ill by doctors; why forty per cent of people who are given prescription drugs suffer notable and sometimes lethal side effects and why, if a patient who is receiving orthodox medical treatment develops new symptoms, the chances are that the new symptoms are caused by the treatment for the original symptoms.
Animal abusers use other types of of intellectual terrorism.
For example, a favourite trick which is often used by hunt supporters and zoo owners, is to warn that if they are forced to go out of business they will kill all the animals in their care.
"If you stop us hunting," the hunters will say, "we will have to kill all our horses and dogs."
"If you make us close down our zoo," the zoo keepers will argue, "we will have to kill the lions, the tigers, the monkeys, the elephants and all the other animals."
The animal abusers usually expose their own sense of brutality by adding an extra vicious twist to their cruelty and claiming that all this means that the pro-animal campaigners will be directly responsible for the deaths of any animals which are killed.
"We don't want to kill our animals," the hunters and zoo keepers will claim. "We love our animals," they will claim. "And if you force us to kill them their blood will be on your hands."
This is, of course, all a total nonsense.
If and when hunts and zoos are closed down it will not be necessary to kill any animals.
Control Of The Police And The Courts, Manipulation Of Justice And The End Of Freedom Of Speech
"Information is the currency of democracy "
Much unhappiness and frustration is caused by the fact that in our society the law is commonly confused with justice, liberty, freedom and equality.
In truth the law has very little to do with these fundamental moral principles. The law exists to help society defend itself; it is used by those who represent society as a weapon with which to dominate and discriminate against individual powers and freedoms. The law is man's inadequate attempt to turn justice – an abstract theoretically concept – into practical reality. Sadly, it is invariably inspired more by the prejudices and self interest of the law makers than by respect or concern for the rights of innocent individuals.
These misconceptions about the purpose of our law lead to much disappointment. And these misconceptions help to create a considerable amount of underlying stress.
No society has ever had as many laws as we have and yet few societies can have ever had less justice.
Many of the laws which exist today were created not to protect individuals or communities but to protect the system. It is because such crimes threaten the security and sanctity of the system that theft and fraud often attract harsher sentences than crimes such as rape and murder which affect individuals. Crimes against the individual are seen as less important than crimes against society because the rights of the individual are seen (by society) as being of less significance than the rights of society.
The irony is that although the law was originally introduced to protect individuals the law has itself become a tyrant. Today, few individuals can afford to take advantage of the protection offered by the law. The law oppresses the weak, the poor and the powerless and sustains itself and the powers which preserve it. The enormous costs of litigation mean that there is one law for the rich and no law at all for the poor. The result is that the law threatens and reduces the rights of the weak and strengthens and augments the rights of the powerful.
Things are made worse by the fact that the people employed by society to uphold and administer the law on behalf of ordinary people too often take advantage of their positions to abuse their powers. The interpretation of the law is so often at the discretion of those who are paid to uphold it that those who have been hired by society become the law itself.
Too often society allows officers of the courts to abuse their power to satisfy their own personal ambitions, grievances and prejudices. In return society, in its broadest and most undemocratic and domineering sense, is protected by the people who benefit from its patronage. It is the worst sort of symbiotic relationship. (A worrying side issue is the prevalence of freemasons within the police and on the court benches. In November 1998 it was disclosed that up to one in five male magistrates in England and Wales could be Freemasons. It is on the record that many judges are Freemasons too.)
The final irony is that as respect for the law (and those hired to uphold it) diminishes so the divide between the law and justice grows ever wider.
When people who are given the power to protect society disapprove of something which threatens their status they introduce a new law. As political parties come and go so we accumulate layer after layer of new laws. It doesn't matter if the new laws conflict with the old laws as long as all the laws help to strengthen the status of the state.
Meanwhile, as the oppression of individuals continues, lawlessness (and disrespect for the law) grows among officials and those in power. Brutality, arrogance, corruption and hypocrisy have all damaged public faith in the law but the only response from society has been to create new laws to outlaw disapproval. Society's primary interest is to protect itself and society is not concerned with justice, freedom or equality since those are values which are appreciated only by individuals. Those who have power are concerned only with their own survival and with perpetuating their power. The simple truth is that we live in a corrupt society which takes little or no account of the needs or the rights of ordinary people.
In a strange way all this should provide us with some comfort. When the oppressive forces of a society try to suppress information and free speech it invariably means that they are worried. Ridicule is usually the first weapon used by cruel oppressors. Violence, imprisonment and the suppression of free speech usually only come when the establishment is fighting a rearguard action.
The Greatest Threat To Liberty
We like to think that the Germans who worked in the concentration camps were exceptionally evil individuals. But every nation contains thousands of pustulant thugs who will obey orders as long as they're paid well, given heaps of authority and provided with smart uniforms.
If the British government decided to exterminate beggars or jews they would find it easy to recruit staff. Most of those who satisfy the requirements for gas chamber attendants are currently working as lawyers, policemen and traffic wardens. And in their hands this island is rapidly becoming a police state.
For years politicians and lawyers (two words which, I feel, go together like 'vomit' and 'floorcloth') have been doing their efficient best to take away all your rights.
Today, the greatest threat to your liberty comes not from criminals but from the legal system. New laws now mean that you're guilty if the police say you're guilty. Human rights have been replaced by police rights. I know of parents who do not like their children going out at night – not because they are frightened of thugs and muggers because they are frightened that their children will be beaten up by the police. Many policemen seem to feel that they have to be confrontational. Instead of simply being there, holding back, or even backing away from trouble, the police seem inclined to provoke trouble and to exacerbate difficult situations. I suspect that this may, to a large extent, be a consequence of bad management and bad training. The Police Service Statement of Common Purpose and Values states that the police must: "...strive to reduce the fears of the public and, so far as we can, to reflect their priorities in the action we take" and that policemen and policewomen should be: "...compassionate, courteous and patient, acting without fear or favour or prejudice to the rights of others."
Those paid to run the legal system have forgotten that the law was invented to protect the ordinary citizen. (They also seem to have forgotten that they are giving more and more power to a bunch of people who are often largely little more than corrupt, racist thugs.) Even former Conservative Home Office Minister David Mellor has warned that: "giving the police extensive power could be bad for decent folk as well as criminals."
Too Many Laws And Not Enough Justice
Recent governments have passed endless oppressive and unjust laws and in consequence the prison population is rising so fast that it won't be long before prisoners will have to come outside and law abiding citizens will have to go inside.
Ring up and complain that you've been robbed, mugged or raped and a snotty, supercilious, patronising, overpaid individual with an 'I'm-far-too-busy-and-important-to-be-dealing-with-your-piddling-little-problem' voice will reluctantly take down your details before explaining that they're far too busy to do anything about your problem.
But leave your car outside the police station while you go inside to complain that you've been assaulted and when you get back to it you'll find that someone has found the time to give you a ticket.
Motorists are easy targets. Most ordinary citizens have an in-built fear of authority and a long established respect for the law. It's far easier to make the crime statistics look good by catching a few generally law abiding middle class motorists than it is to try and catch potentially troublesome criminals.
Vandalism is now so commonplace that churches are installing video cameras. They are, presumably, worried that they'll turn up one morning and find the church gone and the spire propped up on bricks.
One grocer abandoned his business and shut up shop after being burgled and robbed 90 times in just 18 months.
A Reputation For Brutality And Cruelty
The police are rapidly and widely acquiring a fearsome reputation for brutality and cruelty. It seems to me that a large proportion of the men (and women) in the police force today would be criminals if they weren't in the police force. Joining up and wearing a police uniform is, today, an excuse for legalised thuggery. Most ordinary people today would feel more secure if we had fewer police and more justice
Police sprayed a four year old girl with CS gas which they were aiming at two men wanted in connection with motoring offenses.
Police gassed a man who had forgotten his own front door keys. Then, after the householder had been identified by his wife, they took him away, locked him up for 18 hours and charged him with a public order offence.
An accountant who chased after two boys who threw eggs at a disabled man's shop, and accidentally injured them, was quickly arrested. A court ordered him to pay £500 in compensation to each of the two boys and £642 in costs. The judge allowed that he had not meant to injure the boys.
Or consider the case of a citizen and his family who were terrorised by local louts for 14 years. The louts ripped up the man's vegetables and burnt down barn. The police did not stop the raids and so the smallholder, presumably acting out of a sense of anger and frustration, set up a shotgun booby trap which grazed the next intruder in the hand. The unfortunate but desperate and frustrated smallholder was arrested, convicted of attempted murder and sent to prison for seven years.
According to the Police Service Statement of Common Purpose and Values the aim of the police is: "...to protect, help and reassure the community: and to be seen to do all this with integrity, common sense and sound judgement."
The Public Order Act
Police commonly use sections 2,3,4 and 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 when dealing with demonstrators.
Section 2 (1) of the Act states: "Where 3 or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence and the conduct of them (taken together) is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety, each of the persons using or threatening unlawful violence is guilty of violent disorder."
Section 2 (2) of the same act states that: "It is immaterial whether or not the 3 or more use or threaten unlawful violence simultaneously.
Section 2 (3) states that: "No person of reasonable firmness need actually be, or be likely to be, present at the scene.
Section 2 (4) states that: "violent disorder may be committed in private as well as in public places'.
And Section 2 (5) states: "A person guilty of violent disorder is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or a fine or both..."
So, presumably, if three people are sitting together in their living room and Tony Blair appears, smiling smarmily and uninvited, on their TV set and one of the people watching the television announces to the others that he would like to force the grotesque Blair person to eat all his broken promises all three could be sent to prison for five years.
I have to confess that like much modern legislation the Public Order Act 1986 reminds me more of something penned by Lewis Carroll in one of his more imaginative moments than of any sort of legal document.
In the summer of 1998 Home Office Minister Alun Michael MP told me that 142 arrests had been made at Hillgrove Farm near Oxford in connection with protests and demonstrations involving animal rights campaigners. (Pro-animal campaigners were justifiably protesting about the breeding of cats for vivisection laboratories at Hillgrove Farm). Of these 142 arrests no less than 116 were for offenses under sections 2,3,4 or 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. The Minister was unable to give me details of the number of demonstrators who were injured or who required hospital treatment. I am not aware of any police officers being injured by demonstrators at Hillgrove Farm though I rather suspect that if any policemen or policewomen had been injured the government would have made this information available to me.
Considering the number of police involved, the number of demonstrators, the type of offences which with demonstrators had been charged, the cost of the whole exercise – considerably in excess of £1 million – and the length of time for which regular demonstrations had been taking place at Hillgrove Farm, the number of arrests seems to me to be remarkably low and a considerable tribute to the patience of the demonstrators.)
Harassment And Distress
I have met and talked to photographers in different parts of the United Kingdom whose homes have been raided by the police looking for photographs which could be used to help them arrest demonstrators. (The police did not have warrants). Press photographers have had their film seized – and have been jailed. In addition I have been told that it is not unknown for the police to demand film taken by press cameramen at animal rights demonstrations.
A videocameraman working for reported in the autumn of 1998 that he has been arrested six times in two years while trying to do his job as a video journalist. "Problems began," he reported, "two years ago when I was arrested at a hunt, for causing "alarm, harassment and distress – I had pointed my camera at a huntsman."
"After talking to colleagues," he continued, "it transpires that I am not alone. Journalists from all sections of the print and broadcast media who report on direct-action protests involving the police are systematically being bullied, harassed, assaulted and arrested."
The police are, it seems, using the new Protection from Harassment Act (which was originally intended to protect women from stalkers) to control photographers and cameramen who try to report the way that the police deal with demonstrators.
A photographer who took pictures of the eviction of protestors from Manchester Airport in 1997 reported that he was arrested for obstruction and had his equipment and film confiscated – even though he claimed that he had cooperated fully with the demands of bailiffs and had shown his press card. He was put in prison for 14 hours and later convicted in court of obstruction of bailiffs, with a conditional discharge.
There are stories of police officers arresting camera operators, removing tape and then denying that there was ever tape in the camera in the first place. At least one video cameraman now has a colleague filming him while he films the action so that he has some evidence about exactly what has happened. One cameraman has evidence that the police actively erased taped footage which they didn't want to be shown. Another cameraman was arrested for filming protestors destroying crops from a genetics test site. He was locked up for 24 hours and police then obtained authorisation to hold him for another 12 hours (something usually only granted in cases of terrorism). All his clothes were taken from him and he was forced to wear a paper suit.
A freelance reporter was charged with breach of the peace while covering a secret conference of senior politicians and businessmen. He was held for several hours after he had knocked on neighbouring doors to see if residents had seen anything.
Citizens Fight Back
More and more citizens are sueing the police for wrongful arrest, for assault and for other breaches of the law. In 1998 it was reported that the Manchester police had paid out £10,593,573.90 in damages and costs in one case alone. In 1996-7 Scotland Yard paid out more than £2.4 million in damages to settle claims, including assault and false imprisonment. In December 1998 The Times reported that: "The government faces a bill of up to £50 million in costs and compensation for miscarriages of justice uncovered by corruption investigators. The estimate was based on the possibility that 200 cases being investigated would all result in quashed convictions. The Times reported that: "Many of the allegations involve the fabrication of evidence, such as planting weapons, and in at least one case tampering with scientific evidence."
Planting weapons and tampering with scientific evidence can hardly be described as anything but dishonest and yet it is extremely rare for police officers to be sent to prison – even when convictions which have been obtained falsely have been reversed. Members of the public might wonder why.
Another question which needs to be asked is: "Why are damages awarded against the police, or because of police incompetence or dishonesty, paid out of public money?" The average police officer would surely be far more careful – and far less likely to fabricate evidence – if he knew that he was going to have to pay any damages awarded against him. It is difficult to see why police officers should not be held personally responsible for their own actions. If a doctor or accountant is found guilty of some wrongdoing then he will be held responsible for whatever financial costs may result. When a doctor is sued for making a mistake, or for some dishonest action, the taxpayer does not have to pay the bill. Why should the taxpayer have to pay when a police officer is found guilty of making a serious mistake – or, worse still, of corruption?
The present system ensures that the public suffer constantly. Members of the public pay the wages of the police officer who beats up members of the public and then members of the public pay the legal costs and damages awarded against the errant police officer.
Incidentally, policemen and traffic wardens are quick to grovel if they think they're dealing with someone whom they regard as important. A few years ago I acquired a large and impressive looking Buckingham Palace car park pass for the windscreen of my car. I quickly discovered that once they saw the sticker traffic wardens treated me very reverentially. For example, when on a book promotion tour I could find nowhere to leave my car I parked inside a shopping arcade. When I returned to the vehicle I found a traffic warden waiting for me. But he didn't give me a ticket. Instead he stopped the traffic while I reversed out of the arcade. He then saluted while I drove away, leaving him enveloped in blue exhaust smoke.
When I lost my sticker I had a flag made. In the place where the queen's car flies a royal standard I fly a skull and crossbones. I regularly get saluted by officials in uniform.
It is now a mistake to confuse the law with justice, liberty, freedom and equality. Today's law has very little to do with these fundamental moral principles. As H. L .Mencken wrote: "All governments, of course, are against liberty."
The Self Interest Of The Law-Makers
The law, man's inadequate attempt to turn justice into practical reality, is inspired more by the self interest of the lawmakers than by respect or concern for human rights.
This is why protest with a purpose attracts far more attention than mindless vandalism. And animal rights protests certainly do seem to attract more than their fair share of police attention.
If animal rights activists do £50 worth of damage to a building where evil people are doing indefensible and unspeakable things to animals the whole area will turn blue with policemen looking for clues. On the other hand, on several occasions when vandals did hundreds of pounds worth of damage to my office we were not visited by police officers until a few days after the incidents.
When a pro-animal campaigner did several thousand pounds worth of damage to vehicles belonging to a butcher he was arrested, taken to court and sent to prison for longer than the average murderer or rapist would expect to get. When £10,000 worth of damage was done to my car the police would not even bother to come and inspect the damage – let alone look for a culprit.
When a pro-animal campaigner threw a stone while attending a demonstration at a site where animals were being abused she was arrested and told to expect a five year jail sentence. (No one had been injured by the stone). When a fisherman repeatedly threw stones at me (I had been standing near the river in which he was fishing and was, he claimed, alerting the fish by my presence) I telephoned the local constabulary to report the incident. The police refused to attend on the grounds that I had not been injured by any of the thrown stones.
When vivisectors receive threats (however mild) these are invariably treated extremely seriously by the police. When I received and reported a written death threat (the writer claimed that he and his friends had hired a hit man to kill me because of my opposition to hunting) the police dealt with the matter (quite slowly) through the mail. I was never offered any form of protection.
And, of course, there are always thousands of highly paid policemen and policewomen available to protect lorries transporting animals, or to protect establishments where animals are being tortured and killed or reared for torturing and killing. In the north of England a small demonstration of less than 50 animal rights protestors was met with a police 'army' estimated to consist of 200 officers, including 20 on horseback.
The use of vast numbers of police officers to control protests organised by animal rights campaigners is even more remarkable considering the fact that, as far as I am aware, no one has yet been killed or injured by an animal rights protestor. (I think it is fair to say that this shows great reserve, good sense, compassion and patience on the side of the animal rights supporters.)
Those who oppose demonstrations held outside animal breeding centres, where animals are bred for vivisection, torture and death, argue that even if all the animal breeding farms in Britain were closed down the vivisectors would simply import animals from foreign breeding farms. This is akin to arguing that there is no point at all in Britain having rules about child labour or racism or the exploitation of the mentally retarded because even if we stop these outrages here they will still continue in other countries.
If we don't set a good example who will? If we don't start the tide of public opinion against animal abuse in Britain where will it start? If Germany has gas chambers for killing jews does that mean that we have to have them too?
The Law Oppresses The Weak
Laws were originally introduced to protect individuals but 'the law' has itself become one of modern society's greatest tyrants. The law now oppresses the weak, the poor and the powerless, and sustains itself and the powers which preserve it. The law threatens and reduces the rights of the weak and strengthens and augments the rights of the powerful. At peaceful pro-animal rallies and demonstrations the police turn up armed with riot shields, full body armour, helmets, batons and CS gas. When one remembers that, as far as I am aware, animal rights campaigners have never killed (or seriously injured) any animal abusers (or police officers) this dramatic overkill seems to me to take on clear political overtones.
As political parties come and go so we accumulate layer after layer of new laws. We are now all living in one huge concentration camp. And as the oppression of individuals continues, lawlessness grows among officials and those in power.
Brutality, arrogance, corruption and hypocrisy have all damaged public faith in the law but the only response from the establishment has been to create new laws to outlaw disapproval.
The primary interest of the legal establishment is, it seems to me, to protect itself. The legal establishment does not appear to be concerned with justice, freedom or equality since those are values which give strength to you and me.
The Injustice of the Law
The law has very little to do with fundamental moral principles. The law exists to help society defend itself; it is used by those who represent society as a weapon with which to dominate and discriminate against individual powers and freedoms. The law is man's inadequate attempt to turn justice – an abstract theoretically concept – into practical reality. Sadly, it is invariably inspired more by the prejudices and self interest of the law makers than by respect or concern for the rights of innocent individuals. It is in the interests of the politicians to create new laws because when there are many laws in a society (and so many laws that not even the lawyers know what they all are) then everyone will be bound to be a criminal. When every citizen is a criminal, or a potential criminal, the judiciary and the police, and therefore the politicians, have more power.
As respect for the law (and those hired to uphold it) diminishes so the divide between the law and justice grows ever wider.
Meanwhile, as the oppression of individuals continues, lawlessness (and disrespect for the law) grows among officials and those in power. Brutality, arrogance, corruption and hypocrisy have all damaged public faith in the law but the only response from society has been to create new laws to outlaw disapproval.
Society's primary interest is to protect itself. Those who have power are concerned only with their own survival and with perpetuating their power. The simple truth is that we live in a corrupt society.
The Police: The Enemy Of The People
The police probably do not think of themselves as behaving in an evil and reprehensibly immoral manner. Most of them never question what they have been told – or what they are told to do. People who join the police forces are probably not the sort of people who usually question authority.
The police who batter and beat up pro-animal campaigners at rallies and demonstrations may have been told that the people they are battering and beating up are all dangerous lunatics who love animals more than people. They have probably been told that without laboratory experiments on cats and dogs their children will all die of terrible diseases.
Many police officers tend to be insensitive folk of modest intellect. (Would a sensitive, intelligent individual want to join the police force these days?). Most probably do not have enquiring minds. They are likely to believe what they are told. They probably do not have the intelligence to realise that the people they are attacking are not only their real employers but are the 'good guys'.
Police Brutality Is A Major Problem
Pro-animal campaigners are not dangerous in the sense the police think they are dangerous. In a purely physical sense pro-animal campaigners are probably far less of a threat than football crowds or hordes of shoppers queuing for a big store sale to open.
I have received many reports of the police attacking and brutalising innocent demonstrators – many of whom are middle aged or elderly. I have little personal doubt that the police break the law far more often than the citizens they are supposed to be policing.
At one demonstration a girl was arrested for not removing her face mask. She was carried upside down to police vans. The police claimed that the girl was offending the public by wearing the mask, though there were only police and protestors in the area.
A policeman was seen to kick a demonstrator in the back and then stand there, camera in hand, waiting for a response. The same police officer was also alleged to have punched a young woman. I have heard of a policeman at a demonstration attempting to arrest a young woman for wearing a scarf. All this may sound unbelievable. But I believe it is true.
Is it not behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace when several hundred police officers, some on horseback, many dressed in riot gear, surround a peaceful gathering? If a group of military-style demonstrators dressed this way surrounded another group of perfectly innocent citizens, who were exercising their right to meet and listen to speakers, would it not be realistic to describe the military-style demonstrators as guilty of 'behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace'?
Are Pro-Animal Campaigners Targeted By The Police?
Why are so many police used at pro-animal demonstrations? Can it really be that there are not enough murders, rapes, muggings, burglaries and so on to keep them busy?
Of course not.
Politicians have argued that a large police presence is needed at demonstrations because of violence at pro-animal gatherings. It is true that there are always a few arrests at pro-animal demonstrations but it would be surprising if this were not the case when such confrontational tactics are used.
The fact is that (as I have said earlier) I am not aware of any one ever being killed as a direct result of any action initiated by pro-animal campaigners.
Indeed, there is evidence to show that alleged violent actions against animal abusers have been organised either by provocateurs or by animal abusers themselves. (One hunt supporter was jailed for nine months for placing a home made bomb under his own vehicle and then claiming that the bomb was the work of pro-animal activists.)
I have little doubt that the police, undoubtedly under instructions from their political masters, are targeting pro- animal campaigners in a particularly ruthless and inexcusable way.
Readers of mine have reported that they have been searched when travelling to pro-animal demonstrations. And I have also received reports that the police have raided the homes of pro-animal campaigners after they have attended demonstrations. (The police use the photographs they take of people and vehicles to enable them to identify protestors). I have even heard of pro- animal campaigners who have been taken to court simply for reporting animal rights activity.
When police identified a 12 year old girl and a 10 year old boy whom they claimed had allegedly thrown objects during a demonstration they picked up both children.
Detectives travelled some distance to arrest the girl. They called at the family home and intended to pick the girl up at her school until the girl's mother complained. The mother was allowed to pick her daughter up from school herself and to take her to a local police station on condition that the girl's grandmother went with the police to the station. The girl's mother was not allowed in the interview room with her daughter and the girl's grandmother. When a solicitor was requested they were told they would have to wait hours for one. "She was hungry and tired and really wanted to go home so she let them interview her," said the girl's mother.
The 10 year old boy was stopped by police officers as he and his mother were about to board a coach. The boy was grabbed, read his rights and told he was under arrest. He was told that he was under arrest because there was video evidence of him throwing a stone at an animal rights demonstration. He and his mother were put into a police van and held in a cell for seven hours before the boy was interviewed, fingerprinted, photographed and formally cautioned. "I don't know whether he threw a stone," his mother is reported to have said. "He admitted it during the interview but any child would have admitted to anything to get out of there."
It seems surprising to me that the police should have taken so much trouble over children alleged to have thrown stones (but not as far as I am aware, to have injured anyone or caused any damage). Is it now official police policy to arrest every child in the country who is believed to have thrown a stone? Or are the police only interested in arresting children who throw stones while attending animal rights demonstrations? If there is a difference, why is there a difference?
One animal rights campaigner believes that the police are: "trying to frighten off old aged pensioners and people with children so that they can pigeonhole everyone on demonstrations as young unemployed dreadlocked hippies."
My own feeling is that there is probably a good deal of truth in this allegation. Some law abiding citizens are now wary of attending animal rights protests because they fear for their own safety (they are, I need hardly add, frightened of the police, not of other demonstrators) and they fear that they may be falsely arrested and in consequence lose their jobs. This is, of course, all part of the marginalisation process. One community pillar told me that he didn't dare attend a demonstration because of his responsible post. In fact, of course, his responsible post gave him extra power and made him an even more potent demonstrator than he might otherwise have been.
Of the many readers who have written to me to complain of the heavy handed attitude of the police quite a number have claimed that in their view the police have deliberately started trouble at demonstrations – sometimes using provocateurs dressed up as protestors and sometimes merely behaving in a provocative manner.
Here is what one reader told me:
- "I was stood by a gate watching the throngs of animal rights protestors milling about, waving banners and chanting when without any warning I was suddenly blinded and my face was burning. Also my hand had been hit with what I imagine was a baton. After the idiotic police started behaving like this the crowd became incensed. We are innocent and a threat to nobody. I and my partner suffered the effects of the CS gas well into the night and even the next day. I have seen statements from members of the police force which are fabrications, lies and massive exaggerations."
This reader told me that the CS gas was sprayed less than three feet away from where he was standing, that no warning was given, there was no danger to anyone's life and that no after care was offered.
At pro-animal demonstrations I have attended there have invariably been a large number of police cameramen in attendance – some equipped with video cameras and some with still cameras.
(I understand that there is still some question about whether or not the police are entitled to video and photograph innocent citizens – and to then make copies of the video tapes they record and the photographs they take. According to Liberty of the National Council for Civil Liberties, the organisation which protects civil liberties and promotes human rights, the police have to destroy fingerprints taken of people who have been arrested but subsequently not charged with a criminal offence but there is no provision for the destruction of video tapes.)
In my experience the police are too often arrogant and most unlike public servants. Two senior officers both refused to give me their badge numbers when I asked for this information. From the evidence I have seen I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the police cause most (if not all) of the trouble at animal rights demonstrations. And I have absolutely no doubt that police officers regularly lie when giving evidence to the courts.
(It is may or may not be material and relevant but for the sake of completeness I should perhaps point out that when I worked as a general practitioner in the 1970s I also worked as a police surgeon.)
Who pays for all this? Who pays for the massive police turn out, the helicopters, the vehicles, the horses and the cameras? I find it difficult to believe that local police forces can afford this massive expenditure out of their own budgets. I suspect that the money comes from some special Home Office budget.
If several hundred police officers surrounded a Parent Teacher's Association meeting there would undoubtedly be some conflict. If five hundred police in riot gear walked onto a railway station platform or a seaside beach there would be trouble. If a thousand police officers surrounded a meeting of a Women's Institute group, or turned up at village cricket match, there would be some arrests. The current policy is self perpetuating. The police turn up and push demonstrators around. The police are, quite unnecessarily in my view, issued with full body armour and all police horses are fitted with visors. (This, despite the fact that I have no knowledge of any police officer or police horse ever being attacked). The police push and hassle and arrest any demonstrators who protest or try to protect themselves and thereby give themselves an excuse for a massive police presence at the next demonstration. The arrests enable the police to justify their actions and help them to further marginalise the pro-animal campaigners.
If they must attend demonstrations in such vast numbers, in order to satisfy their political masters and their commercial string pullers, the police, in their own best interests, really should learn to be a little more sensitive and to stay calm.
However, it is probably a lot easier for bully boy police officers to take on law abiding pro-animal campaigners than it would be for them to try to stop a crowd of young, fit, strong, belligerent football fans. Or, indeed, for them to try to arrest dangerous burglars who might be armed and ready to fight back. Bullies are invariably also cowards.
Policing a pro-animal demonstration – attended by gentle, kindly, law abiding citizens – seems to give the police a good opportunity for truncheon and boot swinging exercises – with little risk to themselves. Several eyewitnesses have told me that in their view the police seemed to enjoy brutalising the weak and the defenceless.
Here is how one pro-animal campaigner described how the police treated her and other demonstrations at one protest:
- " ...after linking arms they proceeded to push everyone along the road. If you were too slow or got caught up behind other people, dogs etc you were shoved very roughly in your back to make you move forward, the further we walked the quicker they wanted us to move. When there are a large number of people and the police decide to close in from the back and sides you do not have much of an option on where to go. What I found to be totally unacceptable was the bullying behaviour, intimidation, bad language and total disregard for our well-being. I was brought up to respect our police force for the difficult job they do and the way they handle it – not any more. We were herded along like common criminals, pushed and shoved so roughly that some of us fell down on the road and you were not able to escape out of it (if you wanted to get out of the way or were pushed on to the side of the pavement where other police were, they simply shoved you back in the road). "
- "It seemed as if the police use their own provocative actions to try and cause trouble and retaliation so that they can justify their huge numbers and expense. Why else, when the protestors entered the town square were there so many police; mounted police, police in riot gear and police dogs, was this to show the people how dangerous we are, so need to be controlled? "
And here is an extract from another letter I received from an animal lover who attended a pro-animal demonstration:
- "I adore animals and have four rescue cats and have done numerous voluntary jobs working with rescue animals but I had never ever in my entire life attended any demonstrations before....I was totally horrified at the amount of police that was there, also the helicopter, video cameras, police on police horses...what this must have cost I dread to think. Most of all I was sickened to see the way the police treated the demonstrators and also the dreadful abuse that all of us were encountering from the onlookers. "
- " It started, my personal experience with the police, after the speeches. As you know we all marched through the town to go to the farm and we were all cut off at a certain point so we could get no where near it, obviously. On our return back from the cut off point to return to our minibus my daughter, fiance and I were at the tail end of the demonstrators to return when four policemen/women on horses suddenly were pushing all of us to one side with their batons and horses so as a car could come by, which it did. Then another car wanted to come by ten minutes after the previous one, so the same thing happened again, the police on the horses pushing us to one side. However the car was coming a little faster than the previous one. I just managed to push my daughter to one side and managed to get my body out of the way but did not get my foot away in time when the car went over my right foot. It was the front wheel, the passengers side. At the same time one of the policemen on the horses gripped hold of my left wrist, yanked my arm up and started to kick me endlessly with his foot and stirrup and then hitting me extremely hard endlessly with his baton even after the car had gone and my foot released. He finally let me go, laughing away to himself and his colleagues and some of the demonstrators got hold of me quickly and were hugging me and pulling me away quick in case he returned. I was in so much pain with my arm and also with my foot. I was also in total shock as this was a serious assault that he did and for no reason whatsoever. By this time I was sobbing violently and I was also wondering why I was being led away so quick by the demonstrators. They told me when I asked that they were trying to lose me in the crowd because the policeman might return for more. I was absolutely shocked. When I returned to the bus the pain in my foot had gone but my arm was paining me too much, the pain was unbearable so I looked at it and showed the 14 others that were on my bus. It was dreadful, the whole of my upper arm was swollen and was getting bluer and blacker by the minute and I had to take pain killers. "
- "Dr Coleman this has not put me off at all. This is the beginning for me. I will be attending the next demonstration. Dr Coleman how can human beings do these things? I just can't stop thinking about all this. Most nights I lie awake just sobbing until I fall asleep. Please excuse my writing etc...I am still in a state."
Another reader wrote to me to say:
- "A friend and I were on the pavement, to our left were a group of four people when out of the blue an unmarked police car came onto the pavement, two police officers got out, one of them was so out of order, he decided he was going to make an arrest no matter what and chose to pick on the young man in the group of four. The officer's manner was offensive, to say the least, and when I asked why he was acting this way I was told to mind my own business. As his manner became more offensive by the minute I asked him for his number and was told in no uncertain manner that he did not have to give his number to the "likes of me'. What he meant by that is a puzzle as I am just a middle aged housewife, with a deep love of all animals, who has spent the last ten years rescuing sick and abandoned cats from the streets of London. "
Here is another extract from a letter from an animal lover:
- "I can't understand why police always take such an aggressive attitude towards those who want to prevent animal abuse. Speaking as someone who has had cracked ribs, bruising etc because of the police's heavy handedness towards those demonstrating against cruelty, I am very wary whenever a policeman comes near me. "
- I believe that by causing as much inconvenience as possible to local people the police are trying to further marginalise pro-animal campaigners. I suspect that this backfires quite often. Here is what one letter writer had to say: "Returning back to my car after the march I noticed an elderly lady looking quite distressed behind her garden wall. I went up to her and apologised for so many people being in her lovely village on a Sunday afternoon and asked her if she knew why. She immediately said that she had known for years about the disgusting (local farm where animals are bred for vivisection experiments) and the only people she objected to were all the police milling about and not caring where they parked their vehicles. "
This letter writer went on to say:
- "I was threatened with arrest for standing observing how four policemen might treat one young man they had on the ground, shirt pulled down to his arms to immobilise him, knee in the back etc. I was ordered to "join the rest of them'. I asked why I should move. The policeman threatened me with arrest...The attitude of the government, police etc make me all the more determined to continue with my fight against animal abuse. "
Here is another letter from a pro-animal campaigner:
- "I was suddenly jumped on by a policeman disguised as an activist. I struggled and swore and he got very heavy. I ended up in handcuffs and received some nasty bruises from the encounter. He told me that he enjoyed hurting me. I was kept in the cells for ages, like they always do. I was done for section 5 of the public order act and received a conditional discharge and £30 costs. A very small case – after all, I took no action – but that policeman was unnecessarily violent. I'd like to point out that I'm 51 years old and 5 foot tall. "
A reader wrote to tell me about an experience she had when standing on a kerb opposite a farm where week old calves were being sent abroad for veal crates. She was, she wrote, hemmed in by the police standing in the gutter in front of her and by a high hedge behind her.
- "I was standing near the edge of the pavement holding a cardboard placard when my foot slipped off the pavement. The police officer standing in front of me pulled me across the road to a police van. When he was asked what was happening he angrily shouted that I had assaulted him with the placard. "
- "I was taken to a police station, searched and put into a cell. After an hour or so I was questioned by the arresting officer. At around 11.00 pm I was handed back my handbag and told I would be released. After the police officer had checked with the inspector I was informed I was to be charged. They took my finger prints and photograph. I left the police station at about midnight for a one and a half hour drive home. "
- "There were always arrests at this animal trader's farm. Often (sometimes if there were only twenty protestors there) there would be six police horses and two or three large white police vans. One police officer was heard to remark one evening: "We'll get them one by one'. There was a policeman there posing as a protestor."
- " The man w ho runs the farm has been fined many times for animal cruelty. "
- "I was acquitted when the case came to court and all my witnesses had their expenses paid."
- Two readers of mine visited a farm with a third friend, intending to demonstrate peacefully, and stood opposite the property for two minutes. They were then approached by a Chief Inspector and two constables and shown an official police document which stated: "You are gathered at the venue of a private dwelling. You, by your presence in a crowd of demonstrators may be committing an offence under the Protection From Harrassment [sic] Act 1997. I require you to leave this area forthwith as your continued presence may intimidate the occupiers. If you fail now to leave, I will have no option but to exercise a power of arrest. You may then face criminal proceedings. I ask that you quietly leave the area now. "
(It is surprising – and, indeed, rather disturbing – that an official police document should mis-spell an Act of Parliament.)
One of these readers told me that she did not have an opportunity to walk away but was told that if she did so (i.e. she did what the police wanted her to do) she would be arrested. She was then asked for her name and address. When she queried the necessity for this she was told that she would be arrested if she did not comply. (I understsand that members of the public do not have to give their names and addresses unless arrested or suspected of committing a crime.) She was, therefore, threatened with arrest on two separate occasions within a short space of time – despite the fact that she does not seem to have broken any law. And she was forced to give her name and address though it is difficult to see why this was necessary. The other reader pointed out that there were only three of them present and that this could hardly be described as a 'crowd'. She also wondered (in her letter to me) why the police were waiting at a farm where no demonstration was planned.
A pro-animal campaigner who suffers from kidney failure and who has to use a dialysis machine four times a day, was arrested when approaching a pro-animal demonstration because he had his dialysis equipment with him. A policeman is alleged to have demanded to know what the dialysis boxes in the back of his car were for and to have then arrested the pro-animal demonstrator for 'going equipped'.
This campaigner has so far been convicted eight times of obstructing a public highway. On one occasion he was arrested and convicted for handing out leaflets.
(Handing out leaflets can be an expensive business these days. In some areas of the country campaigners who want to hand out leaflets complaining about cruelty to animals now have to pay a fee of up to £100 for the privilege of enjoying their freedom to campaign).
It would certainly appear to me, from the mail I have received, that enormous amounts of public money are being spent on using the police to protect animal abusers – and to harass pro-animal campaigners.
A number of pro-animal campaigners have written to tell me that they have taken legal action against the police after being assaulted.
- "My arm was broken," wrote one pro-animal campaigner. "I had three witnesses who were prepared to help me. During the proceedings, when my expenses reached £2,218, I began to get worried because I was sueing the Chief Constable and if it went his way I could have lost my home because I did not get legal aid. I settled out of court and received £3,500. I nearly took them back to court because for a long time they would not pay my costs. "
- "We are both currently sueing the police for brutality," wrote one pro-animal campaigner on behalf of himself and his girlfriend. "I had my hand broken and we were both sprayed at point blank range with CS gas....I have seen their eyes and many of them are really not in control...Time and time again I have seen badly trained, moronic policemen and women totally overreacting and making the situation ten times worse. "
Surprise And Indignation
I have quoted so many of these letters (a small fraction of the total number of similar letters I have received on this subject) because I think this issue is important – and the tone of these letters accurately portrays the surprise and indignation honest, tax paying, law abiding citizens feel when they come to face with the police under these circumstances.
(In view of the fact that important documents have mysteriously disappeared from my possession in the past I should perhaps point out that the original letters I have received are in a secure place and several copies of all the letters have been made and placed in secure places too.)
Time and time again people have written to tell me that the actions of the police have merely made them even more determined to fight on for animals. Many readers who were caught up in demonstrations by accident (or because they were merely accompanying an enthusiastic pro-animal campaigner) have told me that the actions of the police alerted them to the fact that this is a truly significant issue. The politicians, and the police, will no doubt be disappointed to learn that many of these people – who were not committed pro-animal campaigners when they witnessed police actions – have been converted into pro-animal campaigners by the actions of the police in harassing, assaulting and arresting perfectly innocent protestors.
Every pro-animal demonstration is filmed by the police (sometimes, I am assured by genuine press photographers, by police photographers in plain clothes who are mixing with press photographers). They use still and video cameras. Helicopters hover overhead and it does not seem unrealistic to assume that they too are equipped with cameras.
From the evidence I have received it seems that the police will sometimes use the information they obtain by photographing (and identifying) individuals and vehicles to harass innocent members of the public who have dared to protest in favour of animal causes.
One woman wrote to me saying: "My son was photographed driving a van near a demonstration. His house has been turned over by seven policemen."
This campaigner, like many others, is banned from going within ten miles of some animal abuse centres – even though he has never been convicted of anything.
I sometimes want to weep at the way justice is administered in this country. It seems to me that the word 'justice' doesn't really have anything to do with our legal processes any more.Property is regularly considered far more important than human or animal life.
Recently, for example, a pro-animal campaigner was convicted of setting fire to shops as a protest about the way animals are treated in our society.
The judge told the animal rights activist: "I do accept you did not intend an attack on human life." He then sent the activist to prison for 18 years for presumably assaulting tampons, electric kettles and bottles of aspirin – or whatever else was in the targeted shops.
On the same day a gang of five youths, who called themselves The Young Mafia and who were found guilty of a "long and depraved" gang rape of a 16 year old virgin, were sentenced.
"Some days I feel it would be better if I just went," said the girl, who was previously described as bright and outgoing but was said (not surprisingly) to have become withdrawn and moody. "It would be easier on my family and I would not have to face it any more."
Three of the five gang members received sentences of five years. The other two received 18 month sentences.
Oddly enough, the collected sentences of these five gang members – who wrecked a young girl's life – added up to the same sentence given to the single animal rights supporter who damaged some shops.
A circus worker who was convicted of using an iron bar to give an elephant a vicious and sustained beating was sentenced to four months imprisonment. But a pro-animal campaigner who pleaded guilty to beating a metal fence with a wooden stick, outside a farm where animals were bred for animal experiments, was sent to prison for a year.
What sort of society values a fence more highly than an elephant?
Prisoners Of The System
Men and women who have been sent to prison for caring for animals can expect a rough ride.
Here, for example, a letter I received from the mother of an animal rights prisoner in the summer of 1998.
- "On Wednesday...after 9 pm, six black clad riot squad officers armed with batons and shields kicked open X's cell door and ordered him to "Get up and follow us'. Dressed only in under shorts he asked if he might put on a shirt. This was refused and he was ordered not to speak but "follow in our footsteps' . He was taken to the segregation unit (punishment block). He remained there until 6 am on Thursday, still in under shorts. (He was) then given a track suit and taken from A to B and locked in the segregation unit without any of his property which to date remains at A. He is told his property will not be brought to him for a few weeks and so he sits in a punishment block for 23 hours a day without even toiletries, change of clothing or reading material etc. The reason he has been given for his punishment is that his girlfriend who was sexually abused by a female member of staff at A has taken legal advice. Do you understand the mentality of these brutes, Vernon? Although we have sent him money he has no opp ortunity to buy anything like stamps, stationery, food etc as he arrived too late for the prison shop which is open one day each week so he is totally isolated apart from guards with an attitude that would have embarrassed Hitler. "
Using recorded delivery I sent a copy of this letter to the Governor of the prison involved and asked for his comments.
Despite the specific nature of the letter, and the fact that I wrote for information as a columnist on a national newspaper with a readership in excess of six million British voters, the Governor of the prison told me that he was: "not prepared to comment on the individual circumstances of any prisoner".
Huge Police Presence
When I spoke at a rally (to protest about the Labour Party's failure to stand by its pre-election promises) in Trafalgar Square in August 1998 there was a huge police presence.
Immediately before the pro-animal rally at which I spoke there had been a religious rally on exactly the same spot. I didn't see any noticeable police presence for that. Are the authorities really saying that there is no link between religion and violence?
(I mentioned this anomaly, when I spoke in Trafalgar Square, and received a letter telling me off for having dared to suggest that there is any link between religion and violence. I wrote back pointing out that I was personally aware of approximately forty wars currently going on in different parts of the world as a result of religious conflict. I added that as far as I was aware pro-animal campaigners have not been responsible for any wars.)
Power has corrupted our politicians in extraordinary ways in recent years but the Labour government's crude and roughshod ride over our traditional right to freedom of speech is perhaps the most extraordinary and flagrant example of corruption I have yet come across. The Labour Party has accepted the aged and evil trinity of lies, dirty tricks and censorship with open arms.
On July 10th 1998 I travelled to Witney, in Oxfordshire to speak at a protest organised by Save the Hillgrove Cats. (As I have mentioned earlier cats are bred at Hillgrove Farm to be sold to vivisectors). The area's other incidental claim to fame is that the Home Secretary, Jack Straw MP, who is perhaps not widely recognised as an ardent supporter of animal rights, has a home there.
My intention, when I arrived at Witney, was to talk about the Labour Party's failure to fulfil its pre-election promises. But unknown to me the local police had asked for an exclusion zone around the area.
The ban was authorised by Home Office Minister Alun Michael MP on Friday 10th July. The ban, which extended to a five mile radius around a point allegedly marked X on a map (I say allegedly because I couldn't find the point X on the map I was later sent) was made from 8.00 pm on Friday 10th July until 8.00 am on Monday 13th July 1998. But details of the ban were not released until 10 am the following day, Saturday 11th July, the day of the demonstration. This meant that for 14 hours a legal order was in existence without the public being aware of it.
The inevitable result was that thousands of pro-animal campaigners travelled to Oxfordshire unnecessarily. Police road blocks ensured that there were huge traffic jams and thousands of motorists were delayed and inconvenienced.
Why was the ban not announced until Saturday 11th July?
Some pro-animal campaigners have asked if this might have been because the authorities knew that this would maximise the disruption and inconvenience and create anger and confusion. Rightly or wrongly, somehave asked if it could be possible that the police wanted to annoy the public in order to create antagonism towards animal rights campaigners. Justifiably or not some wonder if the police may have suspected that many protestors would not be able to afford to attend a second demonstration.
I could not possibly comment on any of this conjecture but with an unannounced ban in place the organisers of the banned demonstration did, inevitably, have great difficulty in coordinating or controlling the crowds of pro-animal campaigners who arrived in the area. There were, subsequently, a few arrests in Oxford when disappointed campaigners went there to express their anger.
The West Oxfordshire District Council, and the Secretary of State at the Home Office who had made the order, are all elected individuals, acting on behalf of the public who gave them all the power they have. The police, who executed the order, are employed by the public to protect and serve the public. It seemed to me that the delay was both unnecessary and discourteous.
Others shared my view and I found no one who thought that the police had acted fairly or reasonably. Indeed, after hearing from me at least one Member of Parliament went so far as to ask the Home Office to explain why there was a delay between the authorisation of the exclusion zone and the announcement about it.
I issued a summons against Home Secretary Jack Straw for my train fare in my local small claims court. But I was told that I could not sue the Labour Home Secretary (who is apparently above the law) and that the government was applying to a Crown Court judge to have the action struck out.
In the hope and assumption that someone must be available to take responsibility for the decision to delay the announcement of the ban I then used the small claims court scheme to issue a summons against the Chief Constable of the local police force. I issued the summons at Barnstaple County Court because that is the court which is closest to my office. A Legal Adviser to the Thames Valley Police force then wrote to that court saying:
- "We anticipate that this matter will now automatically be transferred to the Oxford County Court. We would be most grateful if that Court could be asked to list the matter for a preliminary appointment, in order that the District Judge can consider striking out the action under Order 13 Rule 5. It seems to us that this is a clear case where the particulars of the plaintiff's claim disclose no reasonable course of action. "
On 30th September 1998 I sent this letter to the Court Manager at Oxford County Court: "In support of my case against the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police I enclose the following items of evidence:
- a] a copy of a press release from Thames Valley Police, dated 11th July 10 am. This shows that the five mile exclusion zone around Witney was granted by the Home Secretary on Friday July 10th – the day before the information was made public.
- b] Proof of the expense incurred.
(If Thames Valley Police had released details of the five mile exclusion zone on Friday 10th July (when they received them) I would not have travelled to Oxford. It seems to me logical and just that the police be responsible for my train fare. It was their delay which led to my wasted journey. Since this is a small claims court claim I ask the court to consider written evidence in order to minimise costs and expedite a decision. I understand that this is in accordance with the philosophy of the small claims court scheme. I am very happy for this case to be considered by an arbitrator."
I subsequently received a letter from Oxford County Court thanking me for a letter I was not aware I had sent and telling me that the District Judge had directed that "the matter is to stay listed". (This presumably referred to the request from the police that the action be struck out.)
On the 20th October 1998, as instructed by the District Judge, I wrote to the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, explaining my case.
- "My complaint, as I think you know, is an extremely simple one." I wrote. "On July 10th 1998 Alun Michael MP (a Minister at the Home Office) granted an application for a five mile exclusion zone around Hillgrove Farm under the Public Order Act. "
- "You did not release the information about this ban to the press until 10 am the following day (11th July). (See the enclosed press release – dated by Thames Valley Police). "
- "I travelled to Oxford to speak at the rally about the government's failure to fulfil pre-election promises. The ban meant that my journey was wasted. If I had known on Friday the 10th July that the meeting had been banned I would not have made the journey. My second piece of evidence confirms the details of my travelling expenses. "
- "My claim is simple but, I think, important. If you had released the information about the ban when it was available to you I would have not have made a wasted journey. (The release was reported on radio and in newspapers. I have absolutely no doubt that if it had been made public on Friday 10th July I would have heard about it. I study Ceefax/Teletext and listen to news bulletins regularly and even if I had missed the news myself I would have been told about it either by people in Oxford or by the news desk of the national newspaper for which I write a column which knew I was attending the event. I heard about the release on Saturday 11th July (by telephone) within minutes of it being made public even though I had just arrived at the railway station in Oxford at the time. "
- "I have received no explanation as to why there was a delay and I cannot think of any such explanation."
The case was heard before District Judge Payne, sitting at Oxford Combined Court Centre in Oxford on 7th December 1998. Judge Payne ordered that my claim be struck out and that I should pay the defendant's costs "in the sum of £150'.
The Judge explained that the Court considered that: "such costs have been occasioned by the Plaintiff's unreasonable conduct in issuing proceedings without any cause of action whatsoever."
In the end it seemed to me that justice, not I, was the loser in this at once both trivial but important case. No one has yet come up with an explanation as to why there was such a lengthy delay between the granting of the exclusion zone and the publicising of the ban.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this minor case was a discovery which I made as a result of my protests.
On 7th October 1998 Liberal MP Nick Harvey wrote to Paul Boeteng MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office at the Home Office, to ask why there had been a delay between the decision to authorise the exclusion zone at Hillgrove Farm and the announcement that this had happened.
Boeteng replied: "the decision as to whether or not to announce that such an Order has been made would be for the district council to make. There is no requirement under the Act for such an announcement to be made."
So, it seems that the police and the politicians have somehow acquired the power to stop British citizens moving freely around their own country – without any need to tell them that they cannot move around, or what restrictions exist. The police could, it seems to me from Boeteng's letter, quite legally obtain an exclusion Order, not tell anyone about the Order and then arrest any citizen who unwittingly breached the Order. I wonder if I am alone in finding all this rather reminiscent of Kafka's The Trial.
My complaint about what I still perceive to be a lack of courtesy shown to demonstrators is important but obviously not as important as the free speech issue. The unavoidable bottom line is that I was prevented from travelling on a public road, in my own time and at my own expense, to speak in a public place on a subject of public interest to innocent, law abiding citizens who had travelled in their own time and at their own expense to hear me speak.
My words would undoubtedly have embarrassed the government but were intended to help save human and animal lives. I was prevented from travelling to my destination because I am opposed to pointless cruelty to animals and I intended to criticise the government for failing to fulfil its clear, pre-election promises. Motorists travelling to the site of the ban and who did not wish to criticise the government or protest about what happens at Hillgrove Farm were not prevented from travelling on that road or to the same destination.
If all this had happened in Chile or China the broadsheet editorial writers would have exploded with indignation. If it had happened in Russia in the 1960s there would have been much rattling of pens by politicians and academics. But it happened in England in 1998, in the leafy lanes of Oxfordshire, and to its eternal shame the British media was only interested in the fact that when a number of the several thousand people who had made pointless journeys travelled into Oxford there were some arrests.
When I subsequently tried to take legal action against the Home Secretary a press release was sent out by a news agency to every British newspaper. Not one of them printed it. Numerous Members of Parliament wrote to me saying that they agreed that there had been a fundamental breach of civil liberties but no government Minister apologised.
On September 6th 1998 I returned to Witney. This time, as I had suspected, there was no ban. I had written to every MP in Britain to complain about the government banning my attempt to criticise it in public and many MPs had written to the Home Office to complain. I suspect that the government didn't know whether it was more embarrassed by the criticism of its failure to fulfil pre-election promises, or by the fact that its ruthless suppression of my freedom to speak out had becomeknown to MPs of all parties.
But when I spoke at Witney a police helicopter hovered right overhead and, despite an excellent loudspeaker system, the noise made it difficult for those at the back of the crowd to hear what I was saying. Many of those in the audience noticed that the helicopter was not present before I started to speak and that it disappeared shortly after I stopped speaking.
The absurdity of the attitude of the police (and supporting evidence for my contention that politicians are targetting pro-animal campaigners) is in my view well illustrated by the fact that shortly after the Home Office had given the police authority to ban the pro-animal demonstration in Oxfordshire the police in the Midlands did not ban an event, due to take place a few weeks later at Long Marston, Stratford, even though they claimed they knew that a violent attack could happen.
"There is currently a serious and on going feud between Hells Angels and the Outcasts – a separate motor cycle group – and elsewhere in the country there have been incidents of murder and discovery of firearms and explosive devices which may be linked to this feud," said the Warwickshire constabulary in a press release. "Very recently information has been received that a violent attack between rival gangs could happen at Bulldog Bash, possibly using explosives."
The police in Warwickshire announced that they were concerned for the safety of the public during the event and had made a formal request to the Hells Angels to cancel the event. The Hells Angels refused to accede to this request and so the event went ahead.
Some might find it difficult to understand how the Home Office could excuse granting a police ban in Oxfordshire – given that nowhere in the world has anyone ever been killed by an animal rights protestor – but allow the allegedly potentially dangerous Hells Angels event to go ahead in Warwickshire.
But, of course, I very much doubt if the Hells Angels event was likely to involve active criticism of the government.
"It is the strength of a democracy that an individual can attack the government," admitted Alun Michael MP, the Home Office Minister who gave consent for the Order prohibiting a trespassory assembly at Witney in July 1998. (The Home Office used Section 14A of the Public Order Act 1986, which was introduced by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.)
The Truth Is Simple
It seems to me that the truth is simple: pro-animal campaigners are dangerous to the status quo, and to the influential animal abusers who make big profits. I believe the police turn out in huge numbers not because they honestly expect much trouble but simply to try to stop animal rights protests. I suspect the authorities are frightened of long term financial losses rather than short term civil disorder.
The police are mere pawns in the hands of politicians who are themselves controlled by civil servants who are bullied and bribed by industry.
It was, I think, Lenin who wrote that: "to find the culprit see who gains".
In practice I believe that the police in Britain today are being used as though they were the Labour Party's private security force – hired to protect its paymasters.
You and I pay the wages of the police. But the politicians use the police to protect the interests of corporations which have absolutely no interest in our health or welfare. The police in Britain today are protecting evil doers and a corrupt regime just as surely as the police who worked for the white supremacists in South Africa were protecting evil doers and a corrupt regime. Protecting those who abuse animals is little different to protecting those who want to perpetuate apartheid. I believe that the policemen and women who line up to confront pro-animal campaigners are guilty of serious crimes against society, humanity and decency.
Because the average policeman may no be particularly intelligent or well informed and may, indeed, be little more than an authorised thug, there is a tendency for him (or her) to take advantage of the contrived confrontational situation to 'have a bit of fun' and 'break a few heads'. No one seems to make any effort to restrain the police from acting in a wholly insensitive, inappropriate and violent manner. It is my view that far too many policemen and women turn up at pro-animal rallies looking for trouble and action.
As a footnote to all this I think it is worth repeating that I have received many death threats from animal abusers.
In one neatly typed letter the writer (who gave a false name and address) explained in precise and demented detail what would happen to me unless I gave up my campaign to stop scientists performing experiments on animals. The envelope in which the threat arrived also contained a death benefits policy on my life which had been completed with all the appropriate details.
I received a letter from Malta in which the writer told me that he and some fellow hunters had hired a hit man to kill me. I sent the letter to the police who asked Interpol to investigate. The police eventually wrote back to tell me that they had not been able to identify the sender of the letter.
At no point was I ever offered police protection. (Nor did I ask for it.) I suspect that if I had been an animal abuser I might have been offered round the clock protection.
The Police As Enemy
The end result of all this is that many people who care about others, who are passionate and kind and sensitive and who want to improve the world in which they live, now regard the police as the enemy. This is sad, dangerous and disturbing. The fact that sane, sensible taxpayers are frightened of the police says more about the police than about the taxpayers.
Meanwhile, the process of marginalisation and misrepresentation continues, with politicians using the police and the media to make the general public believe that those protesting on behalf of animals are dangerous, deluded misfits who love animals more than people.
Controlling The Citizens
governments have for years now used the drugs war to control their citizens. Fighting drug use has been their constant excuse for spending more money on policing and removing freedom and privacy.
Because they could not use the drugs war excuse to control the internet our politicians devised a new excuse: pornography. And when it became clear that pornography alone was not regarded as a serious enough threat to the survival of the free world the politicians came up with the threat of child pornography. They are now using paedophilia as an excuse for policing computer networks worldwide. (The real irony is that the internet – now regarded by many as a tool for freedom – was originally invented by the US military in case a major nuclear war took out their central military bases.)
Most sensible, Coronation Street viewing, comfortably double glazed citizens used to respond in Pavlovian fashion to talk of government conspiracies and of powerful lobbyists and pressure groups controlling our lives. Conspiracies, they used to think, were part of that world which is populated by people who believe in flying saucers, telepathy, bending spoons and kidnapping by aliens.
But much of that scepticism disappeared when Princess Diana died.
Since then poll after poll has shown that the vast majority of ordinary people believe that Diana was killed. They don't know whether she was killed because she might have been about to marry a Moslem or because of her campaign to ban land mines. But they believe that she was killed and they believe that the British government probably ordered the killing.
Psychiatrists who examined Theodore Kaczynksi (the US Unabomber) said he was convinced: "that every aspect of his existence is controlled by an omnipotent organisation against which he is powerless". The psychiatrists described him as "deeply delusional, paranoid schizophrenic".
But although Kaczynski's response may be described as extreme and anti-social who can argue that his analysis of his condition was not completely accurate?
The Deliberate Marginalisation Of Pro-Animal Campaigners
Politicians in the Soviet Union, the United States of America, Europe and just about everywhere else have for many years dealt with their opponents by 'marginalising' them – or pushing them outside the rest of society by simplifying and falsifying the issues and the facts. Politicians in Britain use this technique in order to control and minimise the effect of those who oppose them, and who might be considered a threat.
The animal abusers (and their supporters) use the media and the police to keep pro-animal campaigners constantly on the defensive, to suppress their views and to push them to the very edges of our society.
Marginalisation is not a new technique. It was used with great effect in the 1930s in the US where steel firm bosses were having a great deal of difficulty with striking steelworkers. Having found that breaking heads and bones tended to antagonise the public, the steel bosses decided to use the media as a subtle alternative. The argument they used was that strikes (and strikers) were hurting everyone. Union activity was equated with communism. Newspapers were used to tell ordinary citizens that the strikers were damaging their future, their children and their country. "Striking is un-American', said the bosses, in what was probably the first sound-bite in history.
The simple but extremely effective technique of marginalisation – which usually relies on triggering an instinctive or emotional response – is used by governments whenever they are at war. Anyone who speaks out against any sort of military conflict will quickly be attacked as being 'against our troops' and 'putting our boys lives in danger'.
During the Gulf War anyone who complained that the war was only being fought to help keep down the price of oil was accused of 'endangering our troops' and of being 'unpatriotic'. Instead of attempting to explain or justify the war the politicians produced and stuck with simple slogans such as 'support our troops'. The electors were not given a chance to discuss the war and anyone who dared to point out that modern wars do seem to break out at convenient times for politicians (when an election is due, when there has been a dip in the polls or when a scandal is breaking) was quickly marginalised as 'unpatriotic'.
The British and the American governments were not the only ones to use marginalisation to good effect during the Gulf War; the Kuwaitis are alleged to have hired public relations experts to spread rumours about the terrible things done by the Iraqis.
Anyone who promotes gay rights will be marginalised as being 'opposed to family values' and "trying to corrupt the young'. And anyone who speaks out against the war on drugs will be attacked for supporting drug use. (A few years ago I wrote a book called The Drugs Myth in which I explained in some detail why the drugs war has not worked, does not work and will not work and why the decriminalisation of illegal drugs would result in less drug use and fewer deaths. I was, inevitably, attacked with some venom by many who didn't bother to read the evidence which I had compiled – but merely attacked me for daring to oppose the officially accepted theory that the only way to reduce drug use is to wage war on the streets. I was, said my critics, obviously keen to see more young people taking drugs!)
Marginalisation claims and accusations work by turning the rest of the community against the targeted individuals or groups. Protesters and dissidents are made to feel alone; members of a tiny, out of step and insignificant minority. (It is, incidentally, for this reason that politicians and the police – and the controlled areas of the media – usually under-estimate the number of people taking part in a demonstration or public protest.)
Pro-animal campaigners are marginalised in a number of ways.
The simplest technique used is to 'demonise' pro-animal campaigners by branding all animal lovers and activists as 'violent'. The very word 'activist' is now used in a derogatory way and people have been encouraged to be wary of anyone described as an 'activist'.(I have used the word 'demonise' because it seems appropriate. Journalists who are given the job of trying to make someone seem mad, bad and dangerous – whatever the truth – often describe the technique as 'monstering'.)
Although I have never taken part in or supported any violent activity (and have, indeed, frequently opposed violence and called for animal rights to be won through peaceful means) I have been frequently (and entirely inaccurately and dishonestly) accused of supporting violence. Attempts have, in this (and other ways), been made to marginalise me and reduce the level of any public support I might win through books, articles, broadcasts or speeches.
Marginalising pro-animal campaigners in this way is, of course, rather ironic since most people who care about animals do so because they are peaceful, gentle and sensitive individuals who find it difficult to accept the cruel way in which animals are so often treated. It is, however, for this reason that politicians make sure that pro-animal demonstrations are attended by vast numbers of police officers – often dressed in full riot gear and supported by anti-terrorist style vehicles and helicopters. I do not believe that the police are there because there is any genuine danger of violence. I believe they are there because it serves the politicians' purpose for pro-animal campaigners to be marginalised as violent. The police have been described by one campaigner, as being: "the security guards for institutionalised cruelty". They are more than that; they are an essential part of the marginalisation process.
Perhaps the most potent technique used by the opponents of pro-animal campaigners is to claim that anyone who protests on behalf of animals must automatically love animals more than he or she loves people. This is, of course, a total nonsense and anyone who has studied history will know that just about every individual who has campaigned on behalf of animals has also campaigned on behalf of people – and that the vast majority of those who have campaigned on behalf of (and genuinely cared about) people have also campaigned on behalf of animals.
Those who care about animals care because they are sensitive and caring individuals. It is a nonsense to suggest that they might care exclusively about members of another species. But those who use this particular marginalisation technique know that if they say something often enough, and firmly enough, many people will eventually believe them.
The technique is sometimes used with clever (but exceptionally cruel and unjust) refinements. For example, the individual who wishes to marginalise pro-animal campaigners will produce a child, or a photograph of a child, whom they claim has been 'saved' in some way as a result of animal experiments. The implication (which is usually spelt out in precise and heart warming detail) is that the pro-animal campaigner would rather save a rat, a mouse or indeed any animal than save the named child's life. Indeed, it is by no means unknown for the animal abuse supporter to claim that the pro-animal campaigner doesn't care if this (and other) children die. This technique has the added advantage for the animal abuser that while marginalising and brutalising the image of the pro-animal campaigner it also spreads the entirely false and discredited notion that there is a link between animal experiments and saving human lives.
Anyone who dares to oppose animal abuse must expect to be marginalised and demonised (or monstered). I have seen animal abusers claim that individuals who protest on behalf of animals are all dangerous lunatics who are out to overthrow our stable society and will ally themselves with any cause which is a threat to the status quo. I have even seen it said that people who campaign on behalf of animals do not themselves particularly like animals, but have chosen to join the animal rights cause in the absence of any other cause to support. (The argument here is that our society is so perfect that protesting on behalf of animals is the only thing left for those who are irrational and alienated.)
Sticks And Stones (And Petrol Bombs)
In his annual report for 1997-8 the Thames Valley police force Chief Constable Charles Pollard wrote about Hillgrove Farm, a cattery in Oxfordshire which, he said, had become: "a target for demonstrations against breeding animals for experimentation."
"Many of those who protest wish to do so peacefully and legally," wrote Pollard, "but, as with so many other demonstrations in recent years, their good intentions are often lost as rallies are hijacked by those who are indifferent to the law: criminals who hurl rocks and petrol bombs at police officers – and police horses – and who appear to have no respect for people, property or, indeed, the animals they claim they are protecting."
An opponent of vivisection wrote to Pollard to ask him if police officers and their horses on duty at Hillgrove really had ever been subjected to petrol bomb attacks.
"I accept that the reference to the use of petrol bombs specifically against police officers and horses is inaccurate," replied Pollard. "Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention."
In January 1999 I wrote to Pollard saying: "In a letter written last October you admitted that your reference to the use of petrol bombs against police officers and horses (in your Annual Report for 1997-8 was untrue. Do you intend to publish a correction and apology in your next annual report?"
I received a reply, on Pollard's behalf, from Inspector Georgina Perkins. She wrote: "The next annual report will be repared at the end of the current financial year for publication in July. Due consideration will be given to all feedback and correspondence received following last year's report, and any information published in error will be rectified."
I wrote back, once again asking Pollard whether he intended to publish a correction and apology in his next annual report. I also asked him why the inaccurate allegation had been made in the first place.
This time the Chief Constable replied saying: "This was a genuine error, regrettably not picked up prior to publication."
And I am delighted to say that Mr Pollard confirmed that he would: "be happy to apologise" in his next annual report.
(Incidentally, I was a little surprised at Pollard's use of the word 'rocks'. I would have expected the word 'stones' The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary definition of rock is: "a large rugged mass of stone forming a cliff, crag or natural prominence on land or in the sea". I find it difficult to conjure up a picture of small children and little old ladies hurling crags or natural prominences at police officers.)
The same reader who had written to Pollard also complained to me that when he wrote to the Labour Home Secretary, Jack Straw MP, objecting to Straw's description of animal rights campaigners as 'terrorists' in a House of Commons speech, he received a reply from the Home Office Organised and International Crime Directorate.
"Animal welfare campaigners I have met," wrote my reader, "have been far from organised, have no international connections and, so far as I am aware, are not criminals. Is it significant that we who campaign on behalf of innocent animals are deemed to be suitable subjects for the attention of such a government department? Does this reflect the government attitude to us?"
The Big Picture
"The cause of each and all of the evils that afflict the world is the same – the general lack of humanity, the lack of the knowledge that all sentient life is akin, and that he who injures a fellow being is in fact doing injury to himself. "
The Great Betrayals
The way that the abuse of animals continues, and is defended, is but a single vital illustration of what is wrong with our society. The politicians have not just betrayed those who love and care for animals: they have betrayed every citizen in many different ways.
Betrayal has become a habit among politicians and the government's betrayal of pro-animal campaigners (and of animals themselves) is simply the visible tip of a very large iceberg. Politicians don't care about animals (and they don't listen to the people who do care). But they don't care about people either (and once again they don't listen to the people who care). Alliances between politicians, big business and the media threaten us all in many different ways.
For the sake of brevity I have chosen to deal here with but a few of the ways in which the government has protected the interests of big industry at the expense of the people who put it in power.
There are some who might find it strange that the government seems to take little or no interest in improving the health, welfare and happiness of its citizens.
But, in the harsh world of politics and economics, this is not as crazy as it might sound.
Politicians are desperately concerned about the increase in the size of the elderly population. They do not want more people living to a ripe old age – because people who live to a ripe old age tend to be a 'drag' on the economy. They do not produce but, instead, demand to be given pensions.
Politicians have a vested interest in making sure that their citizens do not live too long. Politicians deliberately ignore the facts about food and health – and often take action which they know will result in millions of people dying prematurely.
If you feel sceptical about this claim let me just remind you that although politicians have made no attempts to improve our drinking water supplies (I believe that drinking water in Britain is now often not fit for drinking), have done nothing to stop big companies polluting food supplies with chemicals (despite the evidence linking chemicals in foods with cancer) and have allowed big companies to produce and sell genetically engineered food (when there is no evidence that these foods are safe to eat) those same politicians, when eating in the House of Commons restaurants, consume organic food that has not been genetically engineered and they drink bottled spring water rather than the stuff that comes out of the tap.
Honour And Politics
When I was very, very small and believed in fairies and Father Christmas I used to think that the government was made up of clever and compassionate men and women who were dedicated to looking after us all.
I am still prepared to believe in fairies and Father Christmas but I have long since grown out of my pitifully naive notion that the men and women in London who run the country are using the money we give them to make our world a better, safer place.
Tony Blair's Labour government has shown, with a veritable catalogue of broken promises and misleading statements, that the words 'honour' and 'politics' no longer fit comfortably into the same sentence.
The British Labour Party's betrayal of its supporters is nothing new. Throughout the world socialist groups have often promised much for animals – but always failed to deliver. In Britain the Labour Party has, over many decades, consistently failed to support attempts to improve the lot of animals – and has consistently broken promises in order to avoid upsetting influential minorities. The Labour Party's post war administration ignored calls from its members for a ban on hunting. The Labour Party of the late 1990s has ignored the will of the people and their elected representatives with a breathtaking arrogance.
The men and women in London may be clever but they are certainly not compassionate. And they have but one aim in life: to remain in power. It is said that when the Labour Party came into power in 1997 their first act was to start thinking about how to win the next election in five years time.
Before the 1997 election numerous Labour politicians spoke out on animal welfare and animal rights issues. I spoke on public platforms with many of them. But after Labour failed to keep its pre-election promises those MPs fell strangely silent. I wrote to some of them when it became clear that the Labour Party was breaking its pre-election promises. I asked if they felt let down (or even embarrassed) by the government's failure to stick to the promises which helped it win power. I did not receive a single reply.
If you think I'm being unduly cynical just look at the various responsibilities held by the government – and the way the government deals with those responsibilities.
First, and perhaps most important of all, it is the government's job to defend the nation's health and to make sure that people who fall sick are well looked after.
But in practice the government does far more to help defend the drugs industry than it does to help patients.
What other explanation could there be for the fact that drug company profits remain high while the NHS is being bled to death? How else do you explain the fact that drug companies are allowed to sell drugs which so often turn out to be neither safe or effective?
If the government really wanted to keep people healthy they would fight hard to stop the sale of tobacco – still a major cause of illness and death. But in practice the government has opposed a proposed ban on tobacco advertising
Modern politicians seem to have absolutely no sense of shame. For them hypocrisy is a way of life. Honesty and responsibility are alien concepts to moders politicians. Did you know, for example, that although European governments force tobacco companies to publish health warnings on cigarette packs and advertisements, they still give massive subsidies to tobacco farmers?
Ten years ago, in my book The Health Scandal I revealed that the European Economic Community's Agricultural Policy was handing over $667 million a year in subsidies to tobacco farmers. Today the subsidy has grown to $1,100 million a year or approximately $3 million a day – far, far more than governments spend on programmes designed to help people stop smoking.
The result is that the tobacco plant is today the most highly subsidised cultivated plant in the European union, with tobacco growers guaranteed a minimum income per kilogram of tobacco. There are now countries in the EU where farmers have given up planting wheat and started growing tobacco because the subsidies mean that they can earn more money. ubsidies mean that tobacco farmers receive five times the price they could receive on the open market.
The real irony in all this is the fact that European farmers grow tobacco plants with such a high tar content that the product cannot be sold on the European market. The tar rich tobacco products grown in Europe are exported to Eastern Europe or North Africa at giveaway prices. European cigarettes are manufactured from tobacco which is imported. But European subsidies must help keep down the world price of tobacco.
Every taxpaying citizen in Europe is helping to support the world's richest and most successful industry of addiction. Taxpayers' money is used to subsidise tobacco growing farmers and it is used to pay for the health problems caused by tobacco consumption.
The end result of all this is that despite everything we know about the dangers of tobacco, smoking is not becoming less fashionable. Astonishingly 42% of men and 28% of women still smoke in the European Union. And for the tobacco companies the future looks rosy since smoking is now increasingly popular among 11 to 15 year olds. Every time I walk through a European town or city I am horrified at the number of young girls smoking cigarettes.
Subsidising the production of tobacco isn't the only way in which the British government seems to be deliberately trying to kill its citizens. If the government wanted to cut the cancer rate in the UK it would encourage people to cut their intake of fat and to stop eating meat – both known causes of cancer.
But instead of discouraging the consumption of fat and meat the government does everything it can to help farmers breed and slaughter more fat filled animals.
Next, look at the world of 'defence'.
It is the government's job to defend us all from outside aggressors. We have a navy, an army and an airforce and the sailors, soldiers and airmen have lots of boats, guns and planes to play with. Naturally, the government encourages British industry to make many of the boats, guns and planes which are required.
But the politicians aren't satisfied with our making enough guns and boats and planes for our own armed forces. The politicians and the civil servants encourage our arms industry to make guns, boats and planes to sell to other peoples armies.
Now, maybe I've missed something here but if the idea of making weapons is to enable us to defend ourselves against possible aggressors isn't it just a teeny, weeny bit stupid to sell weapons to people who might turn out to be our aggressors?
Well, of course it's stupid. And it certainly isn't in our long term interests. But international arms sales are in the short term interest of the big companies which make all the guns and boats and planes, and the toxic nerve gases, and the land mines which are made of plastic so that the bits and pieces of shrapnel which end up inside human victims do not show up on X rays, and the fiendishly clever land mines which are specially designed to blow the legs off little children who happen to tread on them by mistake. (The theory behind this is that when children are injured parents, grandparents and other relatives become demoralised. "What did you do today, daddy?" "Well, my little darling, I sold some really horrid nerve gas which makes men and women and little children vomit and have fits." "Oh, daddy you are clever." "That's nothing my little one! I sold another huge load of really clever mines which will blow lots of lovely little boys and girls like you into bloody pieces small enough to go through a basketball hoop!" "Oh, how wonderful you are, daddy! I'm so proud of you.")
The Ministry of Defence should be renamed the Ministry of Making Money Through Selling Things That Kill.
Second only to its own survival the government's aim is to keep businessmen happy. Politicians know that big businesses pay lots of tax, pay contributions to political parties and, if they have strong media connections, decide who gets voted into power at the next election.
The real tragedy is that I don't think any of our existing political parties will ever make any difference at all to this sorry, savage state of affairs.
When the Labour Party roared into power in May 1997 Tony Blair and his colleagues were among the most popular politicians Britain had ever seen. Blair was, for a while, the most popular Prime Minister of modern times and had the highest personal rating of any Prime Minister since polling began in Britain back in the 1940s.
But by September 1998 the electorate had realised the truth: the Labour government consists of just another bunch of ambitious self serving politicians, unconcerned about anything but their own status and success. Many of the voters had realised that Blair was no more honest than other politicians. Numerous people were beginning to regard him as arrogant. The number believing he understood the voters was falling sharply.
The nation's politicians and civil servants are not selfless, dedicated people striving to protect the people of the nation. Expecting today's politicians to be honest and fair is like expecting the average second hand car dealer or estate agent to tell you the truth and look after you.
We live in a corrupt, disgusting, dirty world. And for that we can be grateful to the politicians and the civil servants who daily abuse the power we have given them.
Not Just About Animals
So far this book has been largely about animals. I have written about the way animals are mis-treated in our society and the way that our politicians have broken their promises to improve the way animals are treated.
But it is vitally important to remember that it isn't just animals who are abused and it isn't just animals who have been betrayed.
The ruthlessness, callousness and brutal insensitivity with which those who are in superficial control of our society treat animals are also apparent in the way that those same people deal with issues which have an effect on human beings.
Time and time again Labour Party politicians have made it abundantly clear that their primary loyalty is to powerful big business (in its many and varied forms) rather than people. The Department of Health exists not to protect the health of the ordinary citizen but to pander to the whims of the mega rich international pharmaceutical industry. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries exists not to ensure that citizens can purchase good, wholesome food but to defend and protect the interests of farmers, food manufacturers and food distributors. And the Ministry of Defence is, of course, very little more than a marketing department for the arms industry.
Politicians Have Allowed Modern Medicine To Become A Major Health Hazard
Doctors and drug companies have for some time excused their errors and successfully distracted attention away from their incompetence by arguing that their efforts have resulted in a consistent and impressive improvement in life expectancy during the last century or so.
The truth, however, is very different. The medical profession and the drug companies are guilty of a confidence trick of gargantuan proportions. During the last century doctors and drug companies have become louder, more aggressive, a good deal richer and far more powerful but life expectancy has not gone up.
Improved sanitation facilities have meant that the number of babies dying – and the number of women dying in childbirth – have fallen dramatically, and this has had an apparent (but misleading) effect on life expectancy. For adults life expectation has not risen noticeably.
To prove my point I prepared a list of 111 famous individuals – all of whom lived and died before the start of this century. I then checked to see how old these individuals were when they died. I'm printing the list below because it illustrates the point I'm making – and it is an important point. The results prove my argument: life expectation (now between 70 and 75 years in developed countries) has not risen appreciably during the last century. You may find it illuminating to think of any other individuals who died before the start of this century – and to then check up to see how old they were when they died.
Andersen, Hans Christian. Died 1875 aged 70 years.
Aristotle. Died 322 BC aged 62 years.
Attila the Hun. Died in 453 BC aged 47 years.
Audubon, John. Died in 1851 aged 66 years.
Augustine, St Aurelius. Died in 430 aged 76 years.
Bach, JS. Died in 1750 aged 65 years.
Beethoven, Ludwig van. Died in 1827 aged 57 years.
Bentham, Jeremy. Died in 1832 aged 84 years.
Berlioz, Hector. Died in 1869 aged 66 years.
Bernini, Gian. Died in 1680 aged 82 years.
Bizet, Georges. Died in 1875 aged 37 years.
Blackmore RD. Died 1900 aged 75 years.
Blake, William. Died 1827 aged 70 years.
Botticelli, Sandro. Died in 1510 aged 66 years.
Brahms, Johannes. Died in 1833 aged 63 years.
Browning, Robert. Died 1889 aged 77 years.
Bruckner, Anton. Died 1896 aged 72 years.
Brummell, Beau. Died in 1840 aged 61 years.
Brunelleschi, Filippo. Died 1446 aged 69 years.
Canaletto. Died 1768 aged 71 years.
Cardigan, James , 7th Earl of. Died 1868 aged 71 years.
Carroll, Lewis. Died 1898 aged 66 years.
Casanova, Giovanni. Died 1798 aged 73 years.
Catherine the Great. Died in 1796 aged 67 years.
Charlemagne, (Charles the Great). Died 814 aged 67 yrs.
Charles 11. Died 1685 aged 55 years.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. Died in 1400 aged 60 years.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Died 1834 aged 62 years.
Confucius. Died 479 BC aged 72 years.
Constable, John. Died in 1837 aged 60 years.
Copernicus, Nicolaus. Died in 1543 aged 70 years.
da Vinci, Leonardo. Died 1519 aged 67 years.
Daimler, Gottlieb. Died in 1900 aged 66 years.
Darwin, Charles. Died in 1882 aged 73 years.
de Cervantes, Miguel. Died in 1616 aged 69 years.
de Sade, Marquis. Died in 1814 aged 74 years.
Defoe, Daniel. Died in 1731 aged 71 years.
Dickens, Charles. Died in 1870 aged 58 years.
Disraeli, Benjamin. Died in 1881 aged 76 years.
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Died 1881 aged 60 years.
Dryden, John. Died 1700 aged 69 years.
Dumas, Alexandre. Died 1870 aged 68 years.
Eliot, George. (Marian Evans) Died 1880 aged 61.
Elizabeth 1. Died in 1603 aged 70 years.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Died 1882 aged 79 years.
Engels, Friedrich. Died 1895 aged 75 years.
Epicurus. Died 271 BC aged 70 years.
Euripides. Died in 406 BC aged 78 years.
Francis of Assisi. Died 1226 aged 45 years.
Franklin, Benjamin. Died 1790 aged 84 years.
Galilei, Galileo. Died 1642 aged 78 years.
Garibaldi, Giuseppe. Died 1882 aged 75 years.
George 111. Died in 1820 aged 81 years.
Gladstone, William. Died in 1898 aged 88 years.
Goethe, Johann Wolfganag von. Died 1832 aged 83 years.
Gounod, Charles. Died 1883 aged 65 years.
Greco, El. Died 1614 aged 73 years.
Grimm, Wilhelm. Died 1859 aged 73 years.
Grimm, Jacob. Died 1863 aged 78 years.
Handel, George. Died 1759 aged 74 years.
Hansard, Luke. Died 1828 aged 76 years.
Haydn, Franz Joseph. Died in 1809 aged 77 years.
Henry V111. Died in 1547 aged 56 years.
Herod, the Great. Died 4BC aged 70 years.
Hippocrates. Died in 377 BC aged 83 years.
Hobbes, Thomas. Died 1679 aged 91 years.
Hogarth, William. Died in 1764 aged 67 years.
Humboldt, Alexander Baron von. Died 1859 aged 90 yrs.
Johnson, Samuel. Died in 1784 aged 75 years.
Jones, Inigo. Died 1652 aged 79 years.
Kant, Immanuel. Died 1804 aged 80 years.
Khan, Ghengis. Died in 1227 aged 65 years.
Khayyam, Omar. Died in 1123 aged 73 years.
Kublai Khan. Died 1294 aged 80 years.
Liszt, Franz. Died 1886 aged 75 years.
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Died 1882 aged 75 years.
Macintosh, Charles. Died 1843 aged 77 years.
Marx, Karl. Died 1883 aged 65 years.
Michelangelo. Died in 1564 aged 89 years.
Milton, John. Died 1674 aged 66 years.
Montefiore, Sir Moses. Died 1885 aged 101 years.
Monteverdi, Claudio. Died 1643 aged 76 years.
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Died in 1791 aged 35 years.
Nash, John. Died 1835 aged 83 years.
Newton, Isaac. Died in 1727 aged 84 years.
Nobel, Alfred. Died in 1896 aged 63 years.
Nostradamus. Died 1566 aged 63 years.
Offenbach, Jacques. Died 1880 aged 61 years.
Palladio. Died 1580 aged 72 years.
Pepys, Samuel. Died 1703 aged 70 years.
Plato. Died c.348 BC aged 80 years.
Polo, Marco. Died 1324 aged 70 years.
Rousseau, Jean Jacques. Died 1778 aged 66 years.
Ruskin, John. Died in 1900 aged 80 years.
Sandwich, John Montagu, 4th Earl of. Died 1792 aged 74.
Shakespeare, William. Died in 1616 aged 52 years.
Sophocles. Died in 406 BC aged 90 years.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Died in 1896 aged 85 years.
Stradivari, Antonio. Died in 1737 aged 93 years.
Tennyson, Lord Alfred. Died 1892 aged 83 years.
Thackeray, William Makepeace. Died 1863 aged 52 years.
Titian. Died in 1576 aged 99 years.
Turner, Joseph. Died in 1851 aged 76 years.
Victor Hugo. Died 1885 aged 83 years.
Voltaire, Francois. Died 1778 aged 84 years.
Washington, George. Died in 1799 aged 67 years.
Watt, James. Died in 1819 aged 83 years.
Wesley, John. Died in 1791 aged 87 years.
Whitman, Walt. Died 1892 aged 73 years.
Wordsworth, William. Died 1850 aged 80 years.
Wren, Christopher. Died in 1723 aged 90 years.
There are 111 names on this list. The average age at death was: 72.39 years. And, on average, it is 433 years since these each of these individuals died.
The conclusion is simple: despite all the expensive razzmatazz of modern medicine, life expectation for individuals who have survived infancy has simply not increased in the last century or so. The biblical promise of three score years and ten has been fairly steady for centuries.
Doctors And Hospitals Should Carry A Health Warning
Back in the middle ages people were reluctant to go into hospital. They knew that they were unlikely to get out alive. Those patients who survived the incompetent ministrations of doctors and nurses were likely to die of infections contracted on the ward.
Things didn't get much better until well into this century when the discovery of anaesthetics, antiseptics and antibiotics gradually meant that patients going into hospital had a reasonable chance of benefiting from the experience.
But the good days are now over for modern medicine has again become a major hazard. And doctors are again one of the most significant causes of death and ill health.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association the overall incidence of serious Adverse Drug Reactions is now 6.7% and the incidence of fatal Adverse Drug Reactions is 0.32% of hospitalised patients. JAMA estimates that in 1994 alone 2,216,000 hospitalised patients in the US had serious Adverse Drug Reactions and 106,000 had fatal Adverse Drug Reactions. According to JAMA these figures mean that Adverse Drug Reactions are now between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death in the US. In compiling this data JAMA excluded errors in drug administration, noncompliance, overdose, drug abuse, therapeutic failures and possible Adverse Drug Reactions. Serious Adverse Drug Reactions were defined as those which required treatment in hospital, were permanently disabling or resulted in death.
Doctors now cause more serious illness than cancer or heart disease. One in six patients in hospital are there because they have been made ill by doctors. (If you want to see the evidence for this staggering but nevertheless entirely accurate assertion take a look at my book Betrayal of Trust which is published by the European Medical Journal.)
The inescapable conclusion is that today's doctors and nurses should carry a health hazard warning stamped on their foreheads. Each hospital should have a health warning notice hung over its entrance.
But our politicians – terrified of taking on the medicine 'industry' – have done nothing to try to improve the quality of care provided to patients. The politicians have bent over backwards to keep the drug industry happy. Successive governments have done nothing to protect patients.
Politicians Have Ignored The Danger Of Superbugs
By recklessly ignoring the problem of superbugs politicians have ignored a major threat to people in order to keep big companies happy.
The introduction of antibiotics, just half a century or so ago, and their subsequent development, led many people (including most doctors) to believe that infectious diseases had been defeated.
But during the last two decades simple, widespread infections have been striking back and once again re-establishing themselves as serious threats to our health – as serious as cancer and heart disease.
In 1952 virtually all infections caused by staphylococcus could be cured by penicillin. But by 1982 a frightening 90% of patients infected with the staphylococcus bug needed treatment with other antibiotics. Penicillin – the best known, cheapest and most widely available antibiotic in the world – no longer worked against staphylococcus. This had happened simply because the staphylococcus bug had become resistant to penicillin.
With its usual arrogance the medical profession assumed that it could always stay one step ahead of the bugs. What many doctors failed to realise was that yeasts, fungi and bacteria have been producing antibiotics more or less since time began. They use the antibiotics they make to protect themselves. Other yeasts, fungi and bacteria mutate naturally in order to protect themselves against the antibiotics. And they, in turn, produce their own antibiotics. Not realising what they were doing doctors were merely speeding up the whole process by spreading antibiotics around with reckless abandon.
By the mid 1980s it was already becoming clear that all this arrogance was misplaced. Strains of staphylococcus were appearing which were resistant to many other antibiotics – as well as penicillin. At first the new superbugs only caused problems within hospitals – where they caused many deaths among patients whose immune systems had been compromised by other diseases or by physical or mental stresses. It was in the US (where antibiotics had been particularly widely prescribed by doctors and abused by farmers in vast quantities) that many superbugs first started to appear.
(Farmers in Britain have also been major contributors to the antibiotic problem. More than half of all the antibiotics sold in the UK are given by farmers to healthy animals. I first wrote about this grossly irresponsible but profitable habit back in the 1970s but politicians have steadfastly refused to take on the farming community and ban the use of antibiotics in this way.)
By the early 1990s the staphylococcal superbugs were appearing inside and outside hospitals all around the world. The problem was so great that the extra costs incurred when doctors had to prescribe increasingly expensive antibiotics was beginning to add an enormous burden to all those responsible for providing health care facilities. In America the extra cost of dealing with antibiotic resistant organisms was, by the end of the 1980s, estimated at being in excess of $30 billion a year.
The staphylococcus bug is widespread and constantly being passed from one person to another. It also affects some mammalian pets. It is possible to pick up staphylococcus simply through a handshake. Most of the time the body's immune system deals with the bug fairly quickly and effectively. The staphylococcus only becomes a problem when it is picked up by a human being with a wound of some kind – or an immune system that is out of condition or already stretched so much that it cannot cope.
In order to try to stop staphylococcus bugs causing so many deaths in hospitals doctors started routinely giving antibiotics to all patients whom they thought might be at risk – this category naturally including all patients destined for surgery. The prescribing doctors either didn't realise or didn't care that by dishing out antibiotics so freely they were giving the bugs an ever greater chance of acquiring immunity.
Staphylococcus was not, of course, the only bug to become resistant. In 1990 doctors suddenly started to report the existence of antibiotic resistant strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae – which were new enough and virulent enough to kill individuals with weakened immune systems. Leprosy, easily treated until the late 1970s, became a major problem again when a new, resistant type of the bacterium mycobacterium leprae appeared in Ethiopia. Gonorrhoea acquired worldwide resistance to penicillin and other drugs. By 1990 eight out of ten illnesses caused by shigella were resistant to antibiotics. Malaria, apparently almost under control in the 1950s, has become a major killer because of the drug resistant plasmodium falciparum parasites. Tuberculosis, still apparently regarded by many doctors as a disease of the 19th century, has come back with a vengeance with the development of a drug resistant strain.
Salmonella became a more or less untreatable disease in 1993 and now poses a serious health threat. According to the US Department of Agriculture 661,000 people are made ill every year by salmonella infected eggs. Of those around 400 die. The Department of Agriculture's original count was considerably higher. The figure of 661,000 was obtained after a recount. I don't have any figures I trust for any other country. In the UK. I certainly wouldn't trust any figures produced by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. (The Labour government – which seems to be almost as terrified of farmers and the food industry as it is of drug companies – has consistently failed to introduce a Food Standards Agency to protect the quality of food sold in Britain and to ensure that the British people are given honest information about the food they eat.)
The big problem with salmonella bacteria is that some strains are already resistant to ampicillin, streptomycin, tetracycline, sulphonamides and chloramphenicol. It won't be long before some salmonella bacteria are resistant to all known antibiotics. When that happens the death rate from salmonella will rocket.
Most salmonella antibiotic resistance develops on farms where half of all antibiotics produced are used. Naturally, the salmonella bacteria in chickens affect the flesh of the birds as well as their eggs. And the bacteria can easily spread from chicken flesh to other products.
My own considered view is that if you are an egg eating heterosexual and you don't mainline illegal drugs with dirty needles then you are probably more likely to contract and/or die of salmonella poisoning than you are to contract and/or die of AIDS.
Moreover, there seems little doubt that unless the mass use of antibiotics on farms is stopped then salmonella poisoning will pose a considerably greater threat to future generations of the human race than AIDS. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that governments will continue to spend billions on researching still fashionable AIDS but will not risk offending the rich farming lobby by suggesting that antibiotic use be reduced.
Every time you read about a hospital infection which cannot be controlled by antibiotics I think you should give thanks to the farmers. In Britain around 1,250 tonnes of antibiotics are used each year – and 60% of that staggering quantity is used on animals. Farmers use antibiotics to treat infections (which are far more common than they need be because of modern battery-farming techniques), to prevent infections developing (once again intensive farming techniques mean that the widespread use of antibiotics is considered essential – if one cow has an infection a vet will prescribe an antibiotic for the whole herd) and as growth boosters. I don't think anyone knows why but antibiotics increase the muscle bulk of animals – and therefore increase their value and the farmer's eventual profit. It was reported in 1998 that some 10,000 pig, poultry and beef farms in the UK were illicitly mixing antibiotics, which were meant to be used only in the treatment of infection, into their animals feed in order to promote growth. Animal waste, often containing active antibiotic residues, contaminates rivers and soil.
Throughout the early 1990s doctors in the developed world tried to combat new outbreaks of infectious disease by prescribing antibiotics in ever-increasing quantities. They also tried to protect patients against infection by prescribing antibiotics for healthy patients. Naturally enough the drug industry, which was making huge profits out of the sale of antibiotics, did not object. Politicians, constantly afraid of offending the drug companies, did everything they could to stifle protests by people like me who wrote about this problem and warned about the future consequences.
In the developing countries, where doctors were not always available, patients simply bought their own antibiotics. (Ironically – and in my view with considerable cheek – some observers in the so called developed world are now blaming the overuse of antibiotics in the developing world for the fact that new antibiotic resistant bugs are now a serious worldwide threat.)
Thanks to doctors, drug companies, farmers and politicians the future is truly bleak. Infectious diseases which we thought we had conquered are coming back with a vengeance. More and more people are dying of simple, uncomplicated infections. The bugs are getting stronger. And our ability to zap them is diminishing almost daily.
Scientists messing around with genes are making things considerably worse.
Our politicians are doing nothing this major problem – which affects every one of us. They do not want to annoy the drug companies, the companies using genetic engineering or the farmers.
In December 1998 the European Union proposed a ban on the use of some antibiotics by farmers. The British government said it would probably support such a ban but it was clear that any such move would probably prove pointless when drug companies said they would challenge a ban in the courts. A legal battle on such a complex issue would, with all the appropriate appeals, probably last for at least a decade.
In the end the EU announced with a great fanfare that it had banned farmers from using just four antibiotics. They did not introduce a general ban on the use of the tetracyclines and penicillins – the drugs which are most commonly used both on animals and for human patients.
Politicians Close Their Eyes To The Real Causes Of Cancer
Cancer is the major league killer of our age but successive governments have deliberately hidden the truth about how cancer is caused and have suppressed possible cancer cures. They have done this – coldbloodledly sacrificing the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people – solely to protect the interests of a number of major industries.
When a government puts the wealth of a minority above the health of the majority it is fair to conclude that the government is no longer of the people or for the people but has abdicated all responsibility and forfeited the right to respect.
The most repressive, more prejudiced and most obscenely intolerant branch of the international medical industry is undoubtedly that part of it which claims to deal with cancer. Members of the cancer establishment are committed to supporting long established theories partly because they do not have the breadth of intelligence to cope with anything new, and partly because personal and professional jealousy makes them unwilling to acknowledge any genuinely new and creative ideas which might result in non establishment scientists acquiring public respect and honour. This small town mindset paradigm is made even more repressive by the fact that the cancer industry is now so huge that it requires vast amounts of money simply in order to stay alive. Since a good deal of that money comes from the drug industry (which is, not surprisingly, only interested in pharmacological solutions) the cancer industry's aims, methods and motives are now indistinguishable from the drug industry's aims, methods and motives. The drug industry has so much control over the private cancer charities (because it gives them money) that many private cancer charities seem almost exclusively interested in research that is likely to uncover drug-based cures. (How could a drug company ever make money out of a treatment programme that involved meditation or a change in diet?)
In addition to being the most intolerant the modern cancer industry must surely be the least successful branch of medical science ever to have existed. (In my view it is also probably the most corrupt and self serving. If the cancer industry ever accidentally hit upon a cure for cancer I honestly very much doubt if anyone would hear about it. Finding and publicising a cure for cancer would put the cancer industry employees out of business.)
In order to ensure that money continues to pour in the cancer industry must persuade potential contributors and supporters that it is making progress in the fight against cancer.
But despite the expenditure of billions of dollars on research the cancer industry has consistently and reliably failed to find any answers. Indeed, as has been well-documented, the incidence of cancer has been steadily increasing for decades. Chemotherapy does not work and has never worked for the cancers which kill nine out of ten cancer patients. Many patients given chemotherapy and classified as 'cured' go on to develop another cancer within a short period. The cancer establishment has insisted on sticking with radiotherapy and chemotherapy despite the fact that there is now so much evidence that these approaches do not work that even ordinary patients who have no idea that there are alternatives are turning them down; preferring to die quietly and in peace rather than to die of a painful and pointless treatment programme.
The mortality figures show that as many people (if not more) are dying from the commoner forms of cancer now as were dying a generation ago. One in three people already have, or will develop, cancer. And figures from around the world show that the picture is much the same everywhere.
In the US around $110 billion a year is spent on cancer research and treatment. That is more than ten per cent of the US's entire health care bill. But in the US, during the last fifteen years or so, the incidence of cancer has steadily risen as has the number of people dying of cancer.
Writing in the European Medical Journal Dr Jack Tropp pointed out that: "despite the billions of dollars spent each year for cancer research and treatment, using the traditional methods of choice: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, in the overall picture nothing has changed in the mortality rates in the last thirty five years."
The only people who benefit from the modern cancer industry are doctors, drug companies and the people who make radiotherapy equipment.
The effort, the money, and all the misguided hope and faith that has been poured into cancer research by the international cancer industry simply hasn't worked.
The cancer industry has failed because it has deliberately and cold bloodedly concentrated its efforts on the wrong targets. Millions of pounds have been spent on giving cancer to animals despite the fact that the evidence proves that animal experiments are a total waste of time (as well as being immoral).
We know what causes most forms of cancer. Cancer is created by chemical pollutants, by unhealthy, fatty, food and by tobacco. Poisoned water supplies, dangerous prescription drugs and the over use of X rays have also contributed to the incidence of cancer. With immune systems constantly battered by polluted air, adulterated and chemically impregnated food and a constant onslaught from the drugs we buy for ourselves, or allow our doctors to prescribe for us, it is not surprising that increasing numbers of people succumb to one of the many different types of cancer. Eight out of ten people who develop cancer could have been saved if money and effort had been put into prevention.
If I had the annual income the cancer industry enjoys I could turn cancer into a minority disease within five years.
But politicians have done nothing to spread the truth about how cancer can be prevented and avoided. Indeed, throughout the world, politicians have made sure that the modern cancer industry is protected by law. Bizarrely, in most western countries it is now actually illegal to offer a treatment for cancer that stands a chance of working. Even qualified doctors are only allowed to prescribe chemotherapy or radiotherapy or to send their patients for surgery – despite the fact that the evidence shows that these so-called 'therapies' frequently do more harm than good. The authorities relentlessly persecute those who offer new and possibly effective and non-toxic therapies (ignoring the wishes of patients who wish to try those therapies) while condoning, paying for and protecting by law therapies which are known to be often toxic and frequently ineffective.
It is bizarre to see the way that governments tell their citizens that vaccines are all safe, that beef is safe to eat and that chemotherapy is the treatment of choice for cancer. I suspect that most politicians would tell their citizens that hitting yourself on the head with a hammer was safe if the hammer industry told them to say this. It would be funny were it not so tragic.
Doctors who dare to offer patients new hope and new treatments are scorned, abused, persecuted, vilified, forced to go into hiding or threatened with imprisonment. I could fill pages with the names of honest, well meaning, caring doctors whose work with cancer patients has won them many followers among the sick and their relatives but has earned them nothing but trouble from the authorities.
The problems faced by the proponents of remedies not made by drug companies have been well documented. Anyone who dares to offer an unofficial remedy for cancer is accused of being simply out to make money. This accusation is, of course, never made about doctors or drug companies, whose work is all apparently done exclusively in the public interest.
The list of doctors who have been persecuted for offering non-orthodox cancer treatments (which often seem to work much better than anything offered by the official cancer industry) is as long as the list of alleged cancer 'cures' offered or promised by the cancer industry, which have been proven to be of no value, or quietly forgotten once those making the promises had acquired the grants they wanted.
In Britain it is illegal for anyone to claim to have a cure for cancer that is not approved by the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry. Countless cancer pioneers – including some of the brightest medical brains of the century – have been hounded out of the US and forced to open clinics elsewhere.
One district attorney who arrested successful alternative cancer clinic operator Harry Hoxsey over a hundred times within two years is said to have changed sides when his brother – allegedly suffering from terminal cancer – was successfully treated at a Hoxsey clinic. The FDA finally padlocked all 17 Hoxsey clinics on the same day and he was stopped from practising in the US.
Dr Max Gerson, the brilliant German physician who moved to the US and devised a fruit and vegetable juice based cancer treatment was rejected by the American cancer industry. Hoxsey and Gerson therapies are now available in Mexico.
With the wholehearted support of politicians being given to the cancer industry, rather than to the welfare of the people who put them in office, the war against cancer will continue to fail. Avoidable cancers will continue to become commoner and commoner and the establishment will continue to ensure that only the toxic (but highly profitable) alleged treatments of cancer which are produced by the pharmaceutical industry will be authorised by governments.
The Doomed Search For A Magic Bullet Cure
The cancer industry will not find the all powerful magic bullet cure for which it has been searching now for decades.
It will fail because it is wedded to an interventionist paradigm which depends upon treating the body as a battlefield and the disease as an enemy, and which is modelled upon the way that medicine was practised at the start of the twentieth century when the diseases which worried doctors most were those which were caused by infections (tuberculosis, smallpox, influenza, pneumonia, syphilis, cholera, typhoid fever and so on).
The incidence of these diseases fell to a certain extent at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century and as a result the medical profession as a whole made two crucial and fundamental mistakes.
The first mistake was a retrospective one: it was to assume that the reduction in death rate from these diseases was a result of things which doctors had done. This was quite wrong. The reduction in the incidence of infectious diseases (and, more importantly, the reduction in the number of deaths from those diseases) was a result of better water supplies, better sewage facilities, better transport and better food. The man who invented the water closet saved far more lives than any dozen members of the medical establishment. Mortality rates from infectious diseases had fallen long before the introduction of vaccines and antibiotics (the two remedies favoured by the medical establishment).
As I have already shown life expectancy for adults has not risen much, if at all, in recent decades or even centuries. The improvement which has been made has been a result of better living conditions rather than better medicine.
The second fundamental mistake was a prospective one: it was to assume that the interventionist 'magic bullet' approach which appeared to have worked in the war against infectious disease would enable doctors to tackle all other health and life threatening diseases – including cancer. This was a pretty daft mistake to make because most modern killer diseases develop in a very different way to infectious diseases. People get heart disease because they eat too much of the wrong sort of food and not enough of the right sort of food, and because they take too little exercise. And people get cancer because they eat too much of the wrong sort of food and not enough of the right sort of food and because their bodies steadily become increasingly contaminated by toxic, carcinogenic chemicals.
One might have thought that some of the brighter members of the medical establishment might have realised that since modern killer diseases are plainly different to the infectious diseases it might be necessary to think up a different type of treatment approach. But that hasn't happened yet. And it is this error (no doubt encouraged and compounded by the affection of the medical profession for the money so generously distributed by the pharmaceutical industry) which has led researchers (and doctors) to experiment with increasingly toxic drugs (chemotherapy) in order to try and 'kill' cancer.
Chemotherapy has repeatedly failed. The medical profession, the pharmaceutical industry and the cancer industry are so desperate to hide this fact that they now probably consider it a success if the survival rate of patients who take chemotherapy actually matches the survival rate of patients who don't take chemotherapy.
The two most fundamental problems with chemotherapy are:
- 1. In order to kill the cancer cells (which are, after all, merely ordinary human cells which have got out of control) the drug must be so toxic that it inevitably causes a great deal of damage to other, healthy, cells. When chemotherapy is given by mouth (or by any other general, system route) the whole body may be affected – even though the drug is aimed only at one very specific site in the body. When chemotherapy fails to work (which it usually does) the doctors invariably respond by increasing the dose or making the chemotherapy even more toxic. The end result is that the chemotherapy may well kill the cancer cells but it will probably also kill the patient. (This helps to perpetuate the old medical comment about the treatment being a success but the patient dying.)
- 2. Even when chemotherapy (or radiotherapy) does succeed in apparently 'killing' a cancer (and doctors like to give themselves a decent chance at a good cure rate by claiming that any patient who survives an extremely modest five years has been cured) there is a considerable risk that the cancer will recur. When you stop and think about it this isn't difficult to understand for chemotherapy (or radiotherapy or surgery for that matter) does absolutely nothing to alter the circumstances which led to the cancer developing in the first place. When a cancer recurs it isn't necessarily because the surgeon, the radiotherapist or the physician prescribing the chemotherapy has failed to kill all the cancer cells (this is the excuse usually given by surgeons, radiotherapists and physicians and since I try to retain an open mind I will happily agree that it may sometimes be true) but because nothing in the body has changed. The circumstances which led to the development of a first cancer can just as easily lead to the development of a second cancer.
It is for this reason that one often hears of extremely unfortunate individuals who have developed two or even three cancers in separate organs.
However, here's an interesting observation which I bet you won't see plastered all over the official medical journals: twenty years ago when a group of leukaemia patients were treated by wiping out their own bone marrow and giving them bone marrow from a donor, the leukaemia returned in a number of the patients. But – and this is the fascinating bit – DNA checks showed that the new, second bout of leukaemia, consisted of cells which had belonged to the healthy donor. The patient's original bone marrow had all been removed and this time it was the donor's bone marrow which had turned into leukaemia cells.
It seems to me pretty clear from this that there must have been something within those patients' bodies which was turning healthy cells into cancer cells.
And the simple answer is that the cause of the cancer is inside the patient and is untouched by a treatment which simply attacks the cancer cells. It is because the cancer industry either fails to understand this (or doesn't want to believe it) that the cancer industry will never succeed in beating cancer.
All those billions of dollars being pumped into cancer research are being wasted because scientists and doctors insist on attacking an enemy they cannot see and do not understand.
The real problem for the cancer industry is that the real enemy isn't just invisible – it simply doesn't exist in the same way that smallpox, tuberculosis or influenza exist. The real problem, the real enemy which has to be confronted, is not a bunch of malignant cells but a weakened, toxin infiltrated body. And since cancer develops when a body is ill and weak it seems pretty obvious to me that the very last thing the body needs when it is ill is to be attacked with toxic chemicals.
(Ironically, some of the same huge multinational corporations which produce the toxic chemicals which weaken and damage the body and cause cancer to develop also sell the toxic chemicals which are prescribed as a 'cure'. This is the ultimate, exclusively self serving perpetual motion money machine.)
Alternative Cancer Remedies
There are now many alternative therapies available for the treatment of cancer. Some are available very cheaply. Some are extremely expensive. Some are simple to follow. Some are extremely complex. But the one thing that the successful anti-cancer therapies all have in common (and the multi billion dollar a year cancer industry either hasn't realised this yet or else refuses to act on it) is, it seems to me, that, whether they are designed to do this or not, the so called alternative therapies which work, and which often have extraordinary and dramatic results when applied to seriously ill cancer patients, all improve the health and vitality of the body's immune system and help eradicate chemical toxins from the body.
I believe that the alternative cancer therapies which work offer diets which are rich in vitamin packed organic fruit and vegetables and low in toxic chemicals and encourage patients to learn how to relax and to find some peace in their lives. It doesn't matter whether the peace comes through meditation, relaxation, religion or love and comfort applied by people who care.
Those are the stable, ever present qualities of the effective anti cancer cures which work.
The coffee enemas, the hormone injections and the obscure herbal additions may, in my considered view, be little more than bits of fine tuning which may or may not have an additional healing effect superior to that which would be offered by a placebo. There is some evidence suggesting that herbal remedies do contain substances which have effective anti-cancer properties but I believe that it is the immune system which is the real key to cancer treatment. I believe that the real benefit from these alternative approaches to cancer comes from the boost the immune system gets from the absence of stress and the high natural vitamin content of the fruit and vegetable enriched diet.
I believe that cancer develops because the body is a wreck. (Although the owner of the body may not be aware of this. Many people who have been under stress and over-exposed to toxins for long periods succeed in suppressing and ignoring the physical and mental signs of distress. They don't feel 'well' but they don't feel 'ill' either – until, one day, a lump is found or an unmistakeable symptom of cancer appears.) Because of the accumulated stresses the immune system doesn't work properly and so the toxic chemicals and other irritants which have collected in the body trigger off the development of a cancer. (There are thoughtful scientists – not surprisingly they are derided by the hugely rich AIDS industry – who claim that AIDS develops for similar reasons).
Where do the toxins and irritants come from?
There is pretty convincing evidence showing that tobacco and toxin contaminated food are by far the two biggest causes of cancer. (It is, I believe, because they eat more than their fair share of contaminated food and have toxin rich fat deposits that overweight individuals are more prone to cancer). Other possible irritants include radiation, polluted air and water, alcohol, drugs, toxins in household and industrial chemicals and electrical fields.
If you don't want to get cancer – or you have cancer and you want to get rid of it – then I believe that the answer is clear: you must reduce your intake of, and exposure to, toxins and build up your immune system so that it can work harder to defend your body. With an immune system working well you will be less likely to develop cancer. And if you develop cancer then it is my belief that your body will be better able to turn up the boost on its bodypower if you improve the efficiency of your immune system and reduce your exposure to toxins.
The importance and vulnerability of the body's immune system cannot be exaggerated. I believe that it is because they overwork their bodies and damage their immune systems that top international athletes suffer so much from illness – and tend to die earlier than non athletes. There is, as I have pointed out before, a huge difference between fitness and good health.
Sadly, I rather doubt if the medical establishment will ever support this approach for it is an approach to cancer which offers little or nothing in the way of profit to the shareholders and employees of large international companies.
Our existing sad and ineffectual politicians, beholden to big business, will continue to support the cancer industry. For the foreseeable future the official answer to cancer is likely to remain the same as it is at the moment: blast the body with toxic chemicals in the hope that these will kill the cancer tissue. Ironically, the medical establishment, committed as it is to supporting the pharmaceutical industry and the cancer industry, seems unlikely or unwilling to recognise that the other effect of this approach is to damage the immune system, weaken the body and make the organs and tissues within the body more vulnerable not only to the existing cancer but to the development of new cancers too.
Politicians Protect Cancer Causing Industries
It isn't just the drug industry and the cancer industry which the politicians are trying to protect by denying and suppressing the truth about how cancer develops.
Astonishingly, politicians have also shown themselves to be keen to protect the industries which are known to cause cancer. Of these the two most obvious are the tobacco and food industries.
Despite the fact that the link between tobacco and cancer has been well established for many years politicians have protected and subsidised the tobacco industry for a considerable time. Modern politicians seem to have absolutely no sense of shame. Although European governments force tobacco companies to publish health warnings on cigarette packs and advertisements they still give massive subsidies to tobacco farmers. And, of course, as I have explained elsewhere in this book the Labour government which came into power in 1997 decided to allow tobacco companies to continue promoting their product.
Politicians protect many parts of the food industry but I have selected one example: the meat industry.
Those of us who prefer to study the evidence and make our own judgements about health issues, rather than listen to and take advice from the various facets of the industry controlled medical and health care establishment, were entitled to feel well justified when the British government at long last seemed to be about to warn its citizens that the consumption of meat is linked to the development of cancer.
But after considering the (incontrovertible) evidence for some months Britain's much welcomed Labour government responded instead to a plea from the meat industry that such a warning would result in lost jobs and a blow to the economy. The financial threat was enough to end the possibility of the government officially publicising the truth about the link between meat and cancer.
Politicians have actually gone further than simply refusing to publicise the true facts about meat and cancer – I believe that they (and other members of the establishment) have done everything they can to suppress the truth – purely because of the fear that the truth might damage the meat industry.
I have repeatedly warned readers that eating meat can lead to the development of cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, endometrium (lining of the uterus), rectum, pancreas and kidney (see my book Power Over Cancer, published by the European Medical Journal for the evidence) but to their eternal shame, politicians, doctors and bureaucrats have insisted on ignoring the evidence – and protecting the meat industry – for far too long.
The Press Complaints Commission (which I wrote about earlier in this book) is not the only organisation to have objected to the publication of the truth about the link between meat and cancer.
Advertisements for my book Food for Thought are, I beleive, still 'banned' by Britain's Advertising Standards Authority (it seems to me that this is a rather grandiose title since as a non statutory body I don't think it has much 'authority' at all) because the book contains advice on what sort of diet to eat in order to reduce the chance of developing cancer. (I have detailed the story of this ban in my book Fighting for Animals, published by the European Medical Journal).
The advice in the book isn't even controversial: I simply list the foods that are known to cause cancer and the foods which are known to provide some protection.
(Because we refused to accept the ban the ASA – which, I understand, will not accept scientific references in evidence – has warned newspapers not to accept our advertisements. The ASA claims to exist to protect the public but I find it difficult to see how banning a book that contains a summary of proven clinical advice on how to avoid cancer can possibly protect the public. It seems to me that the ASA is simply protecting the cancer establishment.
In November 1998 C.A.Ling, the Managing Director of Plamil Foods (which specialises in the manufacture of vegan foods), sent me a reply which had been received from the Advertising Standards Authority. Ling had complained about an advertisement by the British Meat Nutrition Education Service and the Advertising Standards Authority had written back saying: "We consider readers will generally be aware that vegans and vegetarians have to take extra care with their diet to ensure they obtain the correct nutrients'. This is, it seems to me, exactly the sort of myth which the meat trade is keen to perpetuate. What hope can there be of 'fairness' in judgements when the ASA istelf perpetuates the idea that "vegans and vegetarians have to take extra care with their diet to ensure they obtain the correct nutrients"?
Some people who campaign for animals are beginning to question the Advertising Standards Authority's impartiality. (The winter 1998 Plan 2000 Newsletter had a small item about the Advertising Standards Authority headlined Advertising Double Standards).
Pro-animal campaigners have pointed out that complaints made by animal abusers about pro-animal campaigners are frequently upheld while many complaints made by pro-animal campaigners about animal abusers seem to be rejected.
In the summer 1998 edition of Outrage, the journal of campaigning group Animal Aid, Andrew Tyler pointed out that: "In recent months the Authority has ruled against ads by the Vegetarian Society (twice), the anti-vivisection group Uncaged; the League Against Cruel Sports; and Respect for Animals. By contrast, it has rejected complaints by animal welfare interests and ruled in favour of the pro-hunt Countryside Alliance, the National Farmers' Union and Anchor's 'free range butter' ad."
Tyler reported how Animal Aid had "grappled long and frustratingly" with the Advertising Standards Authority "following a complaint put to it by the Meat and Livestock Commission over our recent Veggie Month advertising poster. The poster bore the slogan "Meat Kills – Just Say No!". It then elaborated with the message "850 million animals slaughtered in the UK every year". The plain, simple truth."
But Tyler went on: "the ASA upheld the meat trade's complaint on the grounds that the poster was "simplistic and misleading and therefore caused unnecessary fear and distress"."
"So," he wrote, "here we are again being obstructed from saying the unsayable in a society that finds the mass slaughter of animals acceptable and explicit objection to such carnage as objectionable."
The public is exposed to a seemingly endless variety of commercial propaganda and if the susceptible and the naive are to be protected from exploitation the country needs a strong, independent watch-dog capable of providing protection for innocent consumers from the most misleading and manipulative advertisers.
But I don't believe the Advertising Standards Authority is the watch-dog the country wants and needs. I believe we would be much better off with an independent but statutory body with real authority and real responsibility.
I continue warn of the association between meat and cancer because I know that I have the evidence to back up what I am saying.
But I believe that the absurd and inexplicable actions of the PCC and the Advertising Standards Authority may have helped to delay the dissemination of the truth and may result in thousands of unnecessary and avoidable deaths. Other writers (and editors and publishers) may well have been influenced by the attitudes of these two organisations – organisations which seem to me too often to appear absurd, out of touch and one-sided.
Politicians Support Genetic Engineering
Science has, during the last few decades, presented us with a steadily increasing and apparently endless variety of moral dilemmas and practical threats. The subject of genetic engineering is a perfect example of how politicians have betrayed us all and are, through their refusal to take on big industry, threatening our very future.
Politicians have allowed and encouraged scientists to give us the hazards of nuclear power, toxic waste, carcinogenic agro-chemicals and an endless variety of pollutants. Scientists have given us undrinkable water supplies, damaged our ozone layer, altered our weather and helped large food companies to grow, package and market virtually nutrient free carcinogenic food. But the latest hazard produced by scientists – with the support of the politicians who were elected to protect our interests – dwarfs all these threats.
In two decades or so genetic engineering has evolved so rapidly as a branch of science (if science is the right word for a form of alchemy which seems to pay little or no attention to logic or research) that the future of our species is now threatened. Genetic engineering enables scientists to transfer genes between species in an entirely unnatural way. Human genes can be transferred to pigs, sheep, fish or bacteria. And genes from bacteria, slugs, elephants, fish, tomatoes and anything else can be put into human beings.
Genetic engineering affects every one of us – in many different ways – but our politicians, far too terrified of the money men, seem to me to have been pitifully reluctant to deal with this threat to our survival.
One politician, when offered some of the scientific facts about genetic engineering, wrote back to a reader of mine dismissing the evidence and arguing that: "We must not, however, forget that Genetic Engineering in many different terms has existed for several centuries and has resulted in many of the animal strains we see about us today, and which no longer cause us concern, but do provide us with many of our everyday foods."
I am not sure why this politician felt it necessary to give genetic engineering initial capital letters (as though it were some deity) but I do find it difficult to understand his apparent belief that there any similarity at all between traditional breeding methods and genetic engineering (which involves inter species gene manipulation). It is this level of apparent misunderstanding among people who really ought to know better which will allow genetic engineering to threaten the very survival of the human species.
Sadly, however, this politician is by no means alone. Many others (and many members of the public) have been misled into believing that a ban on genetic engineering would involve a real health risk to people!
A New Science Offers Solutions to All The World's Problems
Genetic engineering started in the 1970s. The technique involves putting genes from one species into another species. In order to do this the genetic engineers put the gene they want to move into a viruse. They then put the virus into the animal or plant which is to be the recipient. Genetic engineering is nothing at all like conventional breeding techniques (such as are used by dog breeders who want dogs with very floppy ears or by people who want to grow black tulips).
Listen to the boastful, extraordinarily arrogant claims of genetic scientists and you might believe that they had all the answers to hunger and disease. They talk grandly about eradicating starvation by creating new high yield, pest resistant versions of existing foods and manipulating genes to banish physical ailments, aggression and depression. They will, they say, be able to eradicate homosexuality, control the overpopulation problem, purify water supplies, remove crime from our streets and deal with deforestation. Genetic engineers have even talked of creating modified strains of bacteria able to eat up plastics, heavy metals and other toxic wastes.
Vast amounts of money (at least $3 billion) have been poured into identifying the human genome (the genetic blue print for human life). There has even been talk that we will be able to clone ourselves so that we need never die.
Genetic engineers have talked about identifying the gene responsible for longevity so that we can all live long, healthy lives. The word 'immortality' has been tossed around by generous scientists. Genetic engineering will, it is said, enable fashion conscious couples to order 'designer' babies with hair colour planned to match their soft furnishings. Genetic engineers offer us a future world populated by beautifully proportioned geniuses (though if genetic engineers are allowed to define intelligence the standard will surely be low).
Moral and ethical questions have been brushed aside as the unnecessary anxieties of ignorant Luddites who either do not understand what is going on or are temperamentally opposed to progress.
But if it all sounds too good to be true – and all rather reminiscent of the sort of cheap promises with which confidence tricksters make their money – that is because it simply isn't true. Genetic scientists don't have the answers to any of our problems. On the contrary they have simply created a hugely successful money making myth which keeps them in fat grants and huge salaries. (It is important not to underestimate the importance of money in the world of genetic engineering. The world market for biotechnology products is growing at 30% a year and it has been estimated that by the year 2000 the market for genetically engineered substances will be worth $100 billion.) None of this would matter too much if what they were doing was as harmless as it is useless. But harmless it is definitely not. Fiddling around with genes is an exceedingly hazardous business. Simply inserting a gene from one creature into another can cause cancer.
Genetic engineering is not something we can simply ignore until the thousands who are making the grand claims are exposed as fraudsters, or until their poorly based pseudoscience falls out of fashion. It is time that the insane burblings of the geneticists were exposed for what they are. I have been writing about the horrors of genetic engineering for many years – since I first realised that scientists were making promises it was clear they couldn't keep – but most doctors, critics and journalists have so far been too frightened (or ignorant) to oppose the torrent of undiluted praise for genetic engineering and point a firm finger at just another invisible suit of clothes for another naked Emperor. The main hazard of genetic engineering is that no one (including the genetic engineers themselves) knows what will happen to their creations and no one knows how these artificial life forms will interact with existing life forms. The only thing we know with some certainty is that the changes will almost certainly be irreversible.
To allow genetic engineers to continue with their absurd experiments is about as sensible as allowing a million drunken bus drivers to drive vehicles from which the brakes have been removed at full speed through cities all over the globe just to see what happens. And yet our politicians are allowing genetic engineers to do virtually anything they want to do – with government support!
Flawed Science, Dishonest Scientists And Greedy Corporations
Genetic engineering really started to hit the headlines in the mid 1990s. Farmers were reported to be feeding their milk producing cows with genetically engineered bovine growth hormone in order to increase their milk yield. Genetic engineers had, we were told, managed to fiddle with a tomato's natural genes so that it would have a longer shelf life. Genetic engineers gave a human growth hormone to pigs to create a breed which would grow faster and make more profit. (But the pigs produced were arthritic, partially blind, impotent and ulcerous.)
Then we were told that genetic engineers had created a special mouse (the oncomouse) which was 'built' to be especially prone to develop cancer. (Justifiable cries of outrage from animal lovers were brushed aside with the nonsensical assurance that the oncomouse would enable scientists to find a cure for cancer affecting human beings. Those who opposed the deliberate tinkering with life in order to produce creatures doomed from birth were, as usual, accused of caring more for animals than people.)
Vivisectors claimed that by putting a human gene into an animal they would be able to investigate (and find a cure for) conditions which threatened human life. But when a human gene is put into another animal everything changes. Cancer is not caused simply by one gene – it is a result of a whole variety of circumstances including genetic susceptibility and environment.
When mice were genetically altered to include a gene that causes tumours in the retina of the eye in humans none of them developed any symptoms of this disorder.
Scientists told us that they could, by mixing human and animal genes, produce creatures who would provide an endless supply of organs for transplantation. For several years now scientists have been introducing human genes into other animals and animal genes (including human genes) into vegetables.
Genetic engineering (the enthusiasts have tried to replace this phrase – which they fear may prove frightening – with such bland phrases as 'genetic modification' but genetic engineering is what it is and that is what I intend to call it) has been constantly presented to, and by, the media as an entirely public spirited alliance between scientists and big business working together for the good of mankind.
Despite the fact that this is rather like trying to present the international tobacco industry as a humanitarian organisation devoted to the health and welfare of mankind, most journalists and observers swallowed this absolutely outrageous lie without a murmur of protest.
Journalists seem ready to believe that geneticists, being scientists, are inevitably honest and honourable people whose motives cannot be questioned. They ignore the fact that the majority of genetic engineers in the world are now working for or with one of the large companies now making vast amounts of money out of genetic engineering. ("Practically all established molecular geneticists have some direct or indirect connection with industry." says Dr Mae-Wan Ho, Reader in Biology at the Open University, U.K and a Fellow of the US National Genetics Foundation. "This inevitably sets limits on what the scientists can and will do research on, not to mention the possibility of compromising their integrity as independent scientists.")
What has happened in the world of genetic engineering should not surprise anyone. It has, after all, been exactly what has happened in the world of medical research.
Genetic engineering is all about money. The possible advantages to mankind are so slight as to be utterly inconsequential. In contrast the possible hazards to mankind are so great that they are beyond exaggeration.
In the constant search for profit some remarkable things are happening. Bending over backwards, forwards and sideways to be nice to genetic engineers the European Commission has published a directive which allows companies or individuals to apply for and obtain patents on human genes, microorganisms and any plant or animal "derived from a microbiological process'. (It has been pointed out that if the current patent laws were available when chemists were first identifying the elements then individuals and companies would have been able to patent the elements. Everyone in the world would have then have to pay a royalty for the right to breathe in, and consume, oxygen.)
Let me give you some simple facts that may surprise you:
- ¨ Farmers in India have for hundreds of years used a plant which possesses many valuable properties. Because of its value the plant has been 'discovered' and patented by an American company. It is now too expensive for most ordinary people to buy.
- ¨ Companies have applied for patents on human genes.
- ¨ Bubonic plague has been given genes which makes it better able to attack.
- ¨ Genetic engineers are planning to use the AIDS virus as a genetic engineering tool. Scientists claim that they will 'disable' the AIDS virus before using it to transfer genes from one species to another.
- ¨ Genetically modified material can be discharged into the environment as normal liquid waste.
- ¨ Genetically engineered foods may contain substances linked to the development of reproductive abnormalities.
- ¨ Seeds which are now protected by patents cannot be saved by farmers or smallholders (or gardeners) to be replanted the following year unless the farmer, smallholder or gardener pays a royalty to the company holding the patent. The Seed Trade Act makes it illegal to grow or sell non certified natural seeds produced by organic farmers. Genetic engineering agricultural policies seem to me to be designed to put organic farmers out of business and protect the interests of big seed producing companies. Politicians are allowing the genetic engineers and their corporate friends to get away with this. There is, it seems, an insane, bloodcurdling willingness to accept all science without question and to regard progress as an excuse for anything.
- ¨ The dead bodies of animals used in genetic engineering experiments can be sold as meat for human consumption. Animals used in genetic engineering experiments may contain human genes.
- ¨ Bacteria in the soil turn atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia which can be used by plants to make amino acids and proteins. Around the world bacteria 'fix' around 200 million tonnes of nitrogen every year. Genetic engineering threatens this process. If these bacteria stop capturing nitrogen and turning it into protein we will be dependant on chemical companies selling chemical nitrogen fertilisers. Chemical fertilisers pollute drinking water.
- ¨ When a man's spleen was removed as treatment for his leukemia a doctor used the spleen to develop a new cell line which was patented.
- ¨ An American company has been given a patent on all human blood cells obtained from the umbilical cord of new born babies. In the past these cells were used without charge to treat other patients. In the future licence fees will have to be paid to the company which has the patent on these human cells. (How long before someone patents the gene for red hair and then claims a royalty from the parents of every red haired child?)
- ¨ There are currently more than 300 applications for patents pending on animals.
- ¨ Genetically engineered plants frequently contain antibiotic resistant genes. These genes are included as 'markers' to identify the plants. But the antibiotic resistant genes can and do spread to other species. The UK has authorised the marketing of genetically engineered tomatoes which carry a gene for antibiotic resistance.
All this is being done on the understanding that by identifying and manipulating genes the genetic engineers (and the companies they work for) will be able to solve most (if not all) of the world's most serious problems (including hunger and disease).
But this is modern mythology.
The first live transgenic food to be introduced to the supermarkets (a tomato) was withdrawn. It was developed in California and didn't grow properly in Florida. A genetically engineered cotton crop didn't work properly when first planted commercially in Texas because the weather was too hot. The crop didn't grow properly in Australia because it was too cold. And insects rapidly gained resistance to the built in biopesticide.
Two varieties of genetically engineered seeds were withdrawn from the Canadian market (after 60,000 bags of seed had been sold) when it was discovered that at least one of the patented varieties contained an 'unexpected' gene.
Promises And Assumptions
We are told that genetic engineers will be able to identify the genes responsible for some/many/most/all diseases and then, with a little deft gene surgery, remove the genes that are responsible for creating problems and replace them with something more useful. The assumption is that the genetic engineer will remove the gene which would have given your child diabetes/high blood pressure/heart disease/a large nose and replace it with the gene to turn him or her into a chess champion/star tennis player/opera singer/world champion skier.
This myth depends upon the assumption that the development of a disease (and the symptoms it subsequently produces) depends upon a single gene. This is about as well based in scientific terms as the notion that two slices of treacle tart a day will cure deafness.
Genetic engineers are busily struggling to identify the genes which cause diabetes, cancer, schizophrenia and the genes which turn an individual into a burglar, mugger, alcoholic or homosexual.
There are several reasons why this is a waste of money.
First, we already know what causes many of the major killer diseases. We know what causes (and can therefore prevent) most cases of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Unfortunately, preventive medicine is neither glamorous nor profitable and so little or no effort is put into using this widely available, well established and incontrovertible knowledge about how to stay healthy.
Second, when there is no cure available for a disease which has been identified by genetic engineers there is a real risk that the individual will be ostracised, killed or in some way punished by society – simply on the basis of the genetic test. So, for example, individuals who are known to be predisposed to sickle cell anaemia are likely to be discriminated against by insurance companies. And mothers carrying babies who are likely to grow up with some form of disability are already encouraged to have an abortion. This is nothing more or less than a new, sanitised version of eugenics – something which was popular among the Nazis in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s, in South Africa during the apartheid years and in the US between 1924 and 1974 when hundreds of thousands of citizens were forcibly sterilised because they were classified as 'feeble-minded'.
In 1995 China brought in a new law requiring couples planning to marry to be screened for 'serious' hereditary diseases. If one partner is carrying a gene which is considered defective then the marriage must be postponed unless the couple agree to sterilisation or long term contraception. In 1996 the Chinese government introduced legislation for the compulsory termination of pregnancies in which a genetic disorder had been diagnosed. You will, of course, have noted the word 'compulsory'.
There may not be any similar laws (yet) in the west but a survey in the US found that nearly half of the individuals with genetic disorders had experienced some sort of discrimination. And scientists have already suggested giving prophylactic drug treatment to people with genetic disorders.
Third, and most important of all, it is simply not true that the presence of a particular gene is the only factor deciding whether an individual develops a specific disorder. Other genes also play a part. As does the immediate and general environment in which an individual is brought up. And as does the food he eats. It is bad science to claim that a genetic predisposition to a disease means that that disease is bound to develop. Making things even more complicated is the fact that genes work differently according to the other genes that surround them. A gene which causes a disease in one individual may not cause that disease in another individual. Just because an individual has a gene which may cause cystic fibrosis it is not inevitable that the individual will develop cystic fibrosis.
Screening women to see if they have genes which can cause breast cancer has made big news in recent years. But only between 2% and 5% of breast cancer cases are hereditary. Can the expenditure of huge amounts of money on screening for breast cancer genes really be justifiable when we know that if all women are encouraged to follow the right diet their chances of developing breast cancer will be greatly reduced?
There is enthusiasm among genetic engineers for screening for cancer genes but I do not see the point in investigating a diagnostic procedure which is dangerous, expensive and ineffective when we already know what causes 80% of cancers – and could, therefore, prevent four out of five cancers safely, inexpensively and effectively. Meanwhile, there may be some advance warning for us all in the news that six genetic engineers working on cancer related genes at the Pasteur Institutes in France have themselves contracted cancer.
Screening men and women for predisposition to heart disease is likely to become very big business in the near future. Heart disease is, after all, a major killer. But we know that it is lifestyle factors which cause heart disease in most patients. And a good family history provides all the 'genetic' information that is needed. As with breast cancer, heart disease can usually be avoided by following the right lifestyle.
Some scientists have claimed that a gene for schizophrenia has been identified. But doctors can't even agree on the symptoms of schizophrenia (or whether any such disease exists). If schizophrenia is a disease then it seems extremely likely that many other factors (including diet, parents, environment and so on) may also be causative factors.
It has been said that it is possible to seek out genes that are responsible for intelligence. But this is high grade phooey.
Gene screening is a potentially huge business and has already won much political support but is it really in the best interests of the consumer? I think not.
Immediate And Long Term Hazards Threaten Us All
When genetic engineering first hit the headlines, the public was promised that there would be strict rules about just what could and could not be done. But the rules that were intended to protect us have been bent, pushed aside and ignored. Regulations were, it was claimed, slowing down progress, interfering with the competitiveness of the developing new industry and getting in the way of individual scientists keen to get on with their plan for improving the world. It is wrong, say the scientists, to try to ban new thinking or new research.
Genetic engineers claim that there is no need for caution and that only the narrow-minded and the reactionary have reservations about this exciting new branch of scientific endeavour.
The genetic engineering industry has even succeeded in 'persuading' politicians and administrators that there is no need to segregate genetically engineered produce from naturally grown produce.
The risks associated with genetic engineering are numerous and widespread. There is little doubt that genetic engineering is at least partly responsible for the problem of antibiotic resistant organisms. And there is even less doubt that genetic engineering is responsible for some, and possibly many, of the new infective organisms now threatening human health.
Under normal circumstances viruses are species specific. A virus that attacks a cat will not usually attack a human being. And a virus that attacks a human being will not usually attack a cow. But the genetic engineers have changed all that. They have deliberately glued together different bits of viruses in order to cross species barriers. These genetically engineered viruses can then become virulent again. Genetically engineered viruses are extremely infectious. None of this happens by accident – this is how genetic engineering works.
For example, consider the humble pathogen Escherichia coli (known to its friends as E.coli). This little bug is traditionally harmless. It lives in the intestines of most mammals, including human beings. Because it is harmless E.coli quickly became the darling of genetic engineers who fiddled with it incessantly and put genes from a vast number of species into it.
I remember being horrified when I first heard that E.coli was being used in this way. It was always clear that fiddling with such a widespread bug would almost certainly be disastrous. Twenty years ago my fears were scoffed at by scientists and doctors but I was not surprised when I heard that E.coli had changed and that new dangerous versions of it had appeared.
A few years ago a brand new version called E.coli 0157:H7 appeared. This new bug, a direct consequence of genetic engineering, caused dangerous bleeding in the colon, bowel and kidneys of human patients. The first cases occurred in America but outbreaks have appeared all over the world. An outbreak in Japan in 1996 affected 9,000. In 1997 an outbreak in Scotland killed 20 people.
To begin with E.coli only affected meat eaters (since it came via infected cattle) but E.coli has now been found in contaminated soil – and, therefore, in plants grown in the soil.
The whole sorry scenario has been made even worse by the fact that strains of E.coli have also acquired antibiotic resistance. There are varieties of E.coli available now which are resistant to all but one antibiotic. When E.coli becomes resistant to this antibiotic (as will surely happen soon) the bug – one of the commonest known to mankind – will become a major killer. E.coli can acquire antibiotic resistance very quickly. One experiment showed that E.coli can acquire multi drug resistance within twelve days.
Antibiotic Resistant Organisms
Earlier in this book I discussed the problem of antibiotic resistant organisms. In addition to the two obvious causes of this problem (the use of antibiotics by farmers and the overprescribing of antibiotics by doctors) there is another reason for this problem: genetic engineering.
It has been found that the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria is associated with something known as 'horizontal gene transfer' – in which genes move from species to species. You will, I suspect, not be surprised to hear that 'horizontal gene transfer' is exactly what genetic engineers do. Genetic engineers have spent years, and much money, finding ways to break down the natural barriers which prevent the transfer of genes from one species to another. Genetic engineering has enabled bacteria to share their acquired ability to resist antibiotics and to grow stronger and stronger.
Even more frightening is the fact that once horizontal gene transfer starts it is speeded up by the use of antibiotics – which encourage the exchange of genes between different species. So, the more we use antibiotics to try and deal with these new and resistant organisms the more resistant organisms there will be. Things aren't helped by the fact that genetic engineers use antibiotic resistant genes to tag and mark the bits and pieces of genetic material they are moving about.
For a while scientists believed that horizontal gene transfer was something that only happened between bacteria. But this isn't true. It is possible for genes to move from virtually any species to any other species. Genetic engineers have made this process faster and more efficient.
Naturally, the men and women in white coats who were convinced that they knew best ("Trust us – nothing can go wrong') have been releasing genetic material that they have been fiddling with into the environment for years. A year or two ago we thought that the dumping of waste chemicals was bad news. But the dumping of genetic mis-shapes and off-cuts will, I believe, create a problem infinitely larger than the dumping of chemical waste or nuclear waste. Genes, once they start moving and reproducing, can keep spreading, recombining and affecting new species for ever. Once the door has been opened it cannot be shut. And the door has been opened.
"Don't worry!" said the genetic engineers, when this problem was identified. "Genetic material is easily digested by gut enzymes."
Sadly, they were wrong about that too.
Genetic material can survive a journey through an intestine and find its way, via the blood stream, into all sorts of body cells. And once inside a new body the genetic material can begin to affect host cells. If you eat a genetically engineered tomato the foreign genes in the tomato could end up in your cells. Cancer is an obvious possible consequence of this. Exactly what are the risks? I'm afraid that your guess is as good as mine. And our guesses are just as good as the guesses made by genetic engineers. They don't have the foggiest idea what will happen. But they know that something terrible could happen.
Readers will, I am sure, have realised that this poses a new and startling question: what about the altered genetic material in new types of food? What happens to genetically altered food when it is eaten? Will the altered genes find their way into our own genetic material?
Asking the questions is easy. But no one knows the answers.
And our politicians still allow the genetic engineers to do whatever they want.
Creating New Diseases
As part of their research, genetic engineers have deliberately created new viruses that can cause disease. And they are deliberately (and, sometimes, accidentally) releasing new, genetically engineered organisms into the environment without any controls. The organisms they are 'manufacturing' and releasing are, in many cases, themselves deliberately designed to be strong and resistant to disease. It is therefore surely no coincidence that doctors have begun to identify numerous new diseases (such as AIDS and hepatitis C) in recent years. (I pointed out in my book Betrayal of Trust that AIDS probably developed as a result of experiments on animals.) New strains of the rabies virus have recently emerged and new versions of other disease have suddenly been identified.
Risks With Genetically Modified Foods
Genetically engineered foods have already been shown to produce allergy problems – and to be toxic. One major hazard is that plants which have been genetically engineered to be resistant to disease may be more likely to produce allergy problems. A soya bean genetically engineered with a gene from a brazil nut was found to cause allergy problems when eaten by people sensitive to brazil nuts. A strain of yeast, genetically altered in order to ferment more quickly, acquired cancer inducing qualities. Contaminants in an amino acid produced by a Japanese company led to 1,500 people falling ill and to the deaths of 37 individuals.
And yet, amazingly, politicians have done nothing to protect the public. The manufacturers of genetically engineered foods do not have to identify foods that have been genetically engineered. No one tests genetically engineered foods to see whether or not they are particularly likely to cause allergy problems. The new food is tested when it is put onto the market. You and I are the unwitting test subjects. Even drug companies have to do some tests before they can launch new products. Food companies seem to be entirely free of controls.
Amazingly, the politicians and administrators whom we pay to protect us allow the manufacturers to get away with the argument that it would be impossible to separate and identify genetically engineered foods! "Segregation of bulk commodities is not scientifically justified and is economically unrealistic," said the industries involved in genetic engineering. "Certainly!" said the politicians and the bureaucrats. "If you say so." The US government therefore announced that it would not tolerate the segregation or labelling of genetically engineered crops. "We do not find any scientific evidence to support the assertion that bioengineered foods are inherently less safe. Therefore they should not be singled out for special labelling requirements." said the US government. In my view this must rank as one of the most hollow and absurd statements of the century since as far as I am aware no one has done any clinical investigations to find out whether or not bioengineered foods are safe, a bit unsafe or completely deadly. European politicians do not have the guts to stand up to American politicians. They are frightened that if they upset the Americans the Americans will introduce trade embargoes.
The problems are only just beginning but already they are frightening. Potatoes and oilseed rape were genetically engineered to be resistant to herbicide. The resistance spread to weeds within a single growing season. And a genetically engineered soil bacterium, believed to be harmless, turned out to slow down the growth of wheat seedlings.
An area of genetic engineering which has attracted a great deal of public interest (and, to a large extent, uncritical media support) has been the growing of animals to provide organ donor material for human patients (this technique is known as xenotransplantation). It is not surprising that genetic engineers have been attracted to this area. The market for human organs is worth an estimated $6 billion a year in the US alone.
One of the big problems faced by transplant surgeons has always been the rejection of the donor organ because of an immune reaction produced within the recipient patient's body. In an attempt to overcome this difficulty pigs have been bred with human genes. People who care about animals obviously find this use of animals offensive and morally unacceptable but there are other questions to be considered.
First, of course, there is the point that the cost of providing transplant programmes is absurdly high. Whether we like or not there will always be limited amounts of finance available for health care. Is it justifiable to spend so much on this area when many people are dying of diseases which could be prevented or cured for very little money? The entire transplantation programme in wealthy countries has been calculated to add a minute 0.003% to life expectancy.
Second, it is important to recognise that it may be possible to treat these patients without surgery at all. It has been shown that heart disease can be cured without drugs or surgery. Xenotransplantation may, in the majority of cases, be entirely unnecessary anyway.
Third, and perhaps most important, there is the fact that the risks involved with using animal organs may well outweigh any possible advantages. Can pig viruses in these organs cross over into human beings? Putting human genetic material into other animals could produce all sorts of horrific problems. We just don't know what will happen and what will develop. What sort of creatures are we trying to breed?
Breeding human-animal hybrid creatures is also being used for producing animal milk that contains drugs. The animal being used is given hormones to make her lactate early and then made to lactate permanently. Naturally, all this puts the animal concerned under a great deal of stress. The people breeding animals for this sort of purpose will, of course, claim that their animals are clear of possibly hazardous pathogens and are kept in a disease free environment. But I get extremely suspicious when a man or woman in a white coat says that something is safe. How can anyone be sure that an animal is free of possibly hazardous pathogens when genetic engineering means that new organisms may be developing? And I simply do not believe that it is possible to keep animals in a disease free environment. To all this must be added the additional problem that engineered genetic material, when taken into the human body, may then move into human cells.
Surely the use of animals in this way is far too dangerous to allow? It is certainly morally and ethically repugnant. Have we as a species really sunk this low in our desperate search for wealth and eternal life? Do not our politicians have a responsibility to give us moral leadership on issues like this? ` Genetic engineers do not seem to regard 'risk assessment' as something within their responsibility. Hazards to humans, wildlife and the environment are ignored when new 'products' are being engineered. The risks of spreading antibiotic resistance, or creating new allergens, are not assessed by the genetic engineers.
And naturally politicians and bureaucrats, not wanting to annoy this new, wealthy and enormously powerful industry, (or to spend any money themselves) do not allocate any funds to assess risks either. Regulations are weak and are kept weak and when there are changes the changes are usually made to accommodate the industry and make the rules weaker still.
Supressing Fears And Allaying Suspicions
For several years now the food industry has been excited by the possibilities offered by genetic engineering.
Scientists working for or on behalf of the food industry have been busy messing around with foods in an attempt to make them look or taste 'better' or make them last longer. Researchers are alleged to have created tobacco plants designed to be more resistant to disease and a cuboid tomato that will be easier to use when making sandwiches. Scientists have put human genes into plants in order to produce more acceptable food products.
In an attempt to keep up with the world's artificially distorted requirements for food, scientists and farmers are busy messing around with genes in an attempt to grow bigger crops. They claim that modern, laboratory bred crops help boost yields and profits.
But there is a risk because new crop varieties are identical: each ear of wheat, each potato, each tomato is the same as the one next to it. And each farmer grows the same crop variety in order to maximise his profits. This is all very well when everything goes according to plan. But when a bug comes along which affects one plant every plant will be affected. And the result will be a wipeout.
About 150 years ago a fungus caused the Irish potato famine. Today, we are far more vulnerable than the Irish were. One new fungus, or other infection, which affects the latest laboratory engineered crop could cause a worldwide shortage of wheat or potatoes – and a worldwide famine.
I have no doubt that it will happen soon. And when it does happen the farmers whose crops have been destroyed will demand cash so that they don't suffer financially. No one in the food industry will give a damn about the fact that deaths from starvation will rocket – as a direct result of their greedy, selfish, short sighted policies.
Thanks to genetic engineers, farmers and the food industry (and ignorant, uncaring politicians whose only interest is professional self preservation) the long term future for the world is hunger, growing food shortages and wars as the starving fight for food. The clock is running. Before long it will be too late to stop scientists doing irreversible damage to our food.
Genetic engineering is one of the biggest threats any of us face. But no one seems to care. Journalists (most of whom seem to be woefully ignorant about the subjects on which they write) seem besotted with the idea of genetic engineering and the politicians certainly won't stop the scientists because the lobbyists who represent the world's food companies are working hard to suppress fears and allay any suspicions.
When Will We Know The Truth?
I really don't think we will know the truth about the safety of any genetically engineered foods for another generation or two.
As I write this only about 1-2% of the current US crop consists of genetically engineered corn but officials expect the percentage to grow ten fold within the next year alone.
My big worry about the new corn is that, according to information I have received, it contains a third new gene – in addition to the one which provides it with herbicide resistance and the one which allows the corn stalks to produce a naturally occurring insecticide. The third gene protects the plant's cells from ampicillin – one of the most widely used antibiotics in the world. Almost unbelievably the ampicillin resistant gene is apparently being used to identify young corn plants which have been successfully given the other two genes.
What will happen if the new gene 'jumps' from corn to cattle or to people? I fear that this gene could make ampicillin – and possibly other widely used and valuable antibiotics – entirely useless. The results for mankind would be catastrophic. Without ampicillin (and, possibly, many other powerful antibiotics) the death rate from infectious diseases would rocket.
My fear that this gene could 'jump' is not based on simple scepticism and a well established suspicion of the things scientists say. A gene which was placed in rice crops was later found in surrounding weeds. It apparently got into the weeds via insects. The head of a research institute in California, who led a study of the whole issue for the Food and Drug Administration in the US, has already dismissed these fears. When it was suggested to him that the gene could 'jump' species he said: "It seems extremely unlikely." I may be unduly sceptical and cynical but given the consequences if the gene does make the 'jump' I don't find this phrase particularly comforting.
However, my fear that the gene could 'jump' into animals and humans is not my only worry.
What, for example, will happen if the insecticide gene 'jumps' to weeds? The result could, surely, be the growth of uncontrollable superweeds. (The scientists who argue that this is 'extremely unlikely' should know that weed relatives of oilseed rape have already managed to form hybrids with the genetically modified plant).
What will be the long term effect on humans? And what will be the long term effects on other animals, birds and insects? Will the genetically engineered plants prove to be toxic in five, ten, twenty or thirty years time? What effect will they have on human genetic structure?
Geneticists – and the companies which employ them – claim that genetically engineered crops will increase harvests, improve farm and food company profits and help avert a future world food shortage. (They ignore the fact that if more people became vegetarian there would be no present or future world food shortage).
The problem here is the usual one: money. The American export of soybeans, and their products, to Europe is worth around $2 billion a year. Soybean exports make up 25% of American agricultural exports to the European Union. If the EU makes too much of a fuss the Americans will almost certainly start opposing European exports to their country.
And soybeans and corn are not the only food staples to be involved. Genetically altered rape, squash and tobacco have already been approved by various regulatory authorities and genetically altered wheat, potatoes and strawberries will probably be available soon. Researchers are even working on genetically altered plants which will grow coloured cotton and on plants which will produce biodegradable plastics for use in the manufacture of packaging.
Genetically altered food is here and it is now probably impossible to reverse the trend. I believe that a ban in one country alone would have little effect. An international, world wide ban is needed.
The most bizarre fact of all is, as I have already pointed out, that genetically modified organisms do not have to be tested for safety. A food containing genetically modified substances is assumed to be harmless unless proved otherwise. I find this officially approved absence of any form of regulation utterly outrageous and quite bizarre. Since no food company has to do tests on genetically modified organisms who is likely to do the (inevitably expensive) testing? Technically, if you and I – the consumers – want to prove that genetically modified food is not safe we have to find vast amounts of money and organise the tests ourselves. Meanwhile, we have no choice in whether or not we eat the stuff since foods containing these genetically altered materials do not have to be identified or labelled in any way.
It seems to me that the greatest risks must be with processed foods – which is where I believe the majority of the genetically altered crops will end up. Pizzas, breakfast cereals and biscuits are just a few of the vast variety of foods which could be among those containing genetically modified substances.
Cloning Human Beings
A scientist in the US has announced that he intends to start cloning human beings. There is no doubt that unless human cloning is made a criminal (and imprisonable) offence scientists will go ahead. At the end of 1998 a group of researchers in South Korea claimed that they had successfully cloned a human embryo. They are said to have subsequently killed the human embryo. Will a cloned baby be entitled to marry, have children and vote? Or will cloned babies be produced (as has been suggested) to act as servants and organ donors?
How many human genes does a tomato have to contain before it acquires human rights? How many human genes do there have to be in a tomato before the tomato can complain to the European Court of Human Rights if you dare to threaten it with a knife? When does a pig with human genes stop being a pig and become a human being? When does a human being with organs from pigs stop being a human being and become a pig?
Is it ethical for a large international corporation to patent a seed that has been used for generations by third world farmers? Is it ethical for a company to patent a human cell?
In Argentina a new rabies vaccine was tested on cattle without authorisation. Farmer workers, who were not told about the experiment, were later found to be infected with the virus. Was this ethical?
What about the animals produced by genetic engineers? Some are designed to develop specific diseases – such as cancer. Is it moral and ethical to deliberately create a living creature which has an enhanced chance of suffering? Is the creation of a mouse which is more likely to develop cancer something we can proud of? Genetic experiments on animals have produced many horror stories and much suffering.
International companies are testing genetically engineered drugs and foods on millions of people – without ever testing them for safety. Scores of different genetically engineered crops have already been marketed, sown, harvested and sold. Is it ethical to do this without knowing what the future consequences might be? Is it ethical for parents to have an unborn baby aborted because it has the wrong hair colour or may turn out to be a homosexual?
Is it ethical for an insurance company to refuse life or sickness insurance (and therefore the access to money to buy a home) on the basis of a genetic screening test? (Life insurance companies have announced that people applying for life insurance cover will have to report the tests of genetic screening to their insurance companies).
These may sound like stupid questions. But they really aren't stupid questions at all. They are questions which the genetic engineers don't want us to ask because they know that there aren't any answers. Huge international conglomerates are planning to take over every aspect of our lives and neither they nor we know exactly what is going to happen next, or what the consequences of their endeavours are likely to be. We need strong politicians to ask these questions on our behalf – and to make sure that they are answered.
Our babies, our health, our food are all now being controlled (or going to be controlled) by international companies whose sole raison d'être is profit. Now there is nothing wrong with profit. But when profit is the only driving force it is comforting to know that someone is doing a little regulating. In the world of genetic engineering regulation is no longer effective. The industry has grown big enough and powerful enough to squash all fears with promises of vast profits, cheaper food and reduced expenditure on health care. Survey after survey has shown that consumers don't want genetically altered food and they particularly don't want it mixing up with natural food (so that they have no choice about whether or not they eat it). But the politicians and the administrators have ignored the views of the public. The Labour government has ignored the views of the voters on hunting and it is ignoring the views of the voters on genetic engineering.
Most of the scientists currently working in the world of genetic engineering seem to believe that they have no personal responsibility to investigate, assess or consider moral and ethical issues. Many scientists believe that science can do no wrong and that it is the responsibility of other members of the community to decide what to do with new scientific discoveries. Some research scientists claim that there is a difference between science and technology. This is unrealistic and far too simplistic (although it is undoubtedly an argument which allows some scientists to continue receiving their pay cheques without losing too much sleep).
I fon't believe science can be segregated from the rest of society. And I believe that individual scientists must take personal responsibility for the work they do.
It is, after all, usually only the scientists who know what is going on in the laboratories. Secrecy (often maintained in the interests of commerce or that catch-all excuse "security') means that outside observers have to rely upon the honesty of scientists to know exactly what is going on.
(I should point out, perhaps, that not all scientists working in genetic engineering are able to cut themselves off from the moral values of the work they do. In her book Genetic Engineering: Dream or Nightmare? Dr Mae-Wan Ho points out that the Chief Executive Officer of a biotech company told her that he didn't feel happy about his company's involvement with biotechnology but that his mortgage had to be paid. He coped, he said, be practising Transcendental Meditation. Most of his colleagues, he reported, were taking the drug Prozac to help them cope.)
On the relatively few occasions when ethical committees have been set up to question and regulate genetic engineering they seem to have worked on the assumption that genetic engineering is both acceptable and necessary and that all that needs assessing is the small print. Fundamental questions about the scientific value of genetic engineering (and the value to the community) are rarely, if ever, asked. No one asks whether we should be messing around with genes. Big moral and ethical questions are ignored and the assumption is that science must go on and cannot be stopped. Decades ago French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre said: "Of course we can split genes. But can we not split genes?" The answer to his question seems to be a clear and resounding 'No'.
governments don't like to interfere because of the huge profits to be made. Consumers may have made it clear that they don't want genetically engineered products but politicians want companies associated with their countries to be at the forefront of the new technology. Britain and the US are two of the countries which stand to make most out of genetic engineering. Politicians in both countries are steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the existence of any problems or hazards.
Criminals, Genes And Society
There has been a good deal of debate recently about whether criminals are born or made – a produce of their genes or their environment.
Much effort, endless talk and a great deal of our money is being poured into this long running global investigation. In universities and colleges from here to there and back again earnest men and women wearing scowls and white coats are trying to produce the definitive answer to this question.
My fear is that there is one very simple, very important, very basic question which none of them seem to have yet asked.
And that question is: Why?
Why are trying to find out whether or not criminal behaviour is something that is carried in the genes?
Who the hell cares?
What difference does it make?
Do we really want to know the answer to the question?
If the scientists discover that criminals do nasty things because of their genes are we going to feel sorry for them and let them off?
"It wasn't his fault he mugged 23 old ladies, raped 76 women, robbed 46 banks and murdered 103 perfectly respectable citizens. It was in his genes."
"Oh, that's all right, then."
Are we going to fire all our policemen, turn our courtrooms into sandwich bars and convert our prisons into holiday accommodation?
Are we phooey.
Quite rightly, no politician would dare advocate such a revolutionary concept.
On the contrary politicians, policemen and mad scientists will believe that they can eliminate crime and criminals by getting rid of bad genes.
And who is going to define "bad genes'?
Which quango of used politicians is going to define which traits are unwanted by society?
Do you really look forward to living a society where the men in white coats will ring your doorbell to tell you that your unborn child has genes which the government does not find acceptable?
"But what's wrong with him?" you may plead. "Why does he have to be aborted? Won't you please give him a chance? He isn't even born yet! He might turn out to be a good boy."
"I'm sorry, madam," the man in the white coat will say. "We can't discuss that sort of thing. State secret. But your baby has got to go. But never mind dearie, you can get another one – with guaranteed genes – from the Party Headquarters Adoption Centre."
When the politicians and the policemen take over and start telling the genetic manipulators what to do we can all say goodbye to character traits which you and I used to regard as virtues.
Our future masters will soon put a stop to originality and creativity. They will want to get rid of citizens who show signs of aggression, determination and passion.
Within a generation or two the world will be populated by timid, mild, meek zombies who do as they are told, never answer back and never question the orders they receive.
The genes which are responsible for turning a baby into a writer, a thinker, a poet or a campaigner will be among the first to go.
Tomorrow's children, the citizens of the genetically clean world, will know their place. They will line up neatly and on time to go to work. They will behave themselves. And they will treat the politicians, the policemen and the Gene Masters with respect.
That is the only future we will have if the scientists currently playing around with genes manage to prove that certain genes carry criminal behaviour.
The politicians will leap on the opportunity to get rid of troublemakers, opposition and heretics. The disabled, the imperfect, the ugly, the gay and the chronically sick will all be neatly destroyed before birth. The potentially promiscuous, the would be anarchic, the possibly noisy, the reckless, the imaginative and the troublesome will all be aborted.
The men in white coats, themselves manipulated by the men in grey suits, will promise to see to it that tomorrow's world is a clean and crime free place.
But neither the men in white coats nor the men in grey suits can be trusted. We must stop this research now. Before it is too late. Stopping this potentially evil work will not be easy. The politicians, the civil servants and the other grey suited horrors who run our world will have long ago spotted that this will offer them a marvellous opportunity to cleanse the world of unacceptable genetic influences. But stop it we must. If we don't stop it now then it will soon be too late.
Safer, Cheaper And More Effective Solutions Are Available
The genetic engineering approach to the world's problems ("We can fix everything by fiddling with the genes') has resulted already in the production of products which consumers don't want and is now threatening the very safety of the world in which we live.
Politicians have responded to the promises made by genetic engineers in much the same way that so many people respond to the promises made by slimming pill and vitamin manufacturers.
People who want to lose weight are seduced by the prospect of losing weight without having to eat less of the foods they like. And people who want to be healthy are attracted by the thought that they can maintain good health by swallowing vitamin and mineral pills rather than by having to go through the inconvenience of finding, preparing and eating good, wholesome food. It is, perhaps, not surprising that politicians are similarly seduced by genetic engineers' promises that they can solve the world's problems, save government money and produce large, taxable profits too.
By concentrating on the magical 'quick fix' solution politicians have overlooked, and taken money and resources away from, alternative solutions that really would help deal with hunger, malnutrition and avoidable disease.
When politicians and scientists talk about the overpopulation problem they are invariably referring exclusively to the developing countries, the Third World. But this is another nonsense. There is no more overpopulation in the Third World than there is in the developed world. There is, however, a severe shortage of food in the Third World. More than 800 million people are hungry at the moment and over 80 countries (around half of them in Africa) do not grow enough food to sustain their own population. In India 85% of children under the age of five are malnourished.
Oddly enough, the shortage of food in the developing world is matched by an excess of food in the developed world. If the food surpluses were moved from the north to the south of the globe there would be far less obesity (and obesity related disease) in the developed countries and no hunger in the developing world.
Talk about a need for new genetically engineered crops to help combat hunger and starvation is also nonsense. Between 30 and 40 of the nations where there is most hunger export food to the US so that people who already eat too much can continue to eat hamburgers. (The food that is exported to the US is often used to feed cattle).
Farmers in the developed world and the Third World have already shown that they can dramatically improve their output if they are given a little help in combating drought and other difficult conditions. In Latin America, when soil conservation programmes and organic farming methods were introduced, yields were tripled or quadrupled within a year. Years of use of agrochemicals and poor land husbandry has led to declining soil quality (and, therefore, declining food quality). But organic farming does work and we can produce the food we need without chemicals. Sustainable, organic, agriculture avoids all the problems created by mechanised farming – and is more profitable too!
And, of course, if grain from developing countries was not used to fatten up cattle so that people in the developed world could eat steaks and harmburgers there would be plenty of food to go round. If more people in Europe and the US became vegetarian, starvation in the developing world would be a memory.
Meanwhile, there is another concern.
One of the few ways to avoid the problem of genetically engineered food is to buy and eat organic food. Not surprisingly, organic farming is proving successful and popular. The consumption of organic food is rising dramatically. However, the big food businesses don't like organic farming – which is labour intensive and works best when operated by small scale farmers operating on a restricted local basis. And so serious plans are afoot to destroy organic farming before it develops further and does more damage to the established food "industry'.
The US government is set to introduce new 'standards' for organic farming which are likely to have a dramatic effect on the quality of food worldwide. The US government plans to allow the powerful food industry to describe food which has been genetically engineered, irradiated, treated with additives or raised on contaminated sewage sludge as "organic'. They also intend to allow farmers to describe as 'organic' livestock which has been housed in batteries, given drugs or fed with the unwanted parts of other animals. There will, in short, soon be no real difference between food described as 'organic' and other 'junk' food. In order to prevent genuine organic farmers calling their produce something else the US government intends to make it illegal to set standards higher than the ones that it defines. This will effectively make it illegal for farmers to produce and sell good quality food.
To begin with these absurd new regulations will operate only in the US. But it will surely not be long before American manufacturers put pressure on their government to force the European Union to accept the American definition of 'organic food'. It is this process which has already seen the European Union force unwilling consumers in its member countries to accept genetically engineered crops and beef and milk contaminated with growth hormones. How long will it be before those who want to eat food which has a low chemical content must either grow their own fruit and vegetables or purchase their groceries illegally from local dealers? Men in sunglasses and expensive cars will stop at street corners, wind down a window, and hand over a bag of potatoes in exchange for a bundle of cash before speeding off to their next assignation.
One big cause of malnutrition (and this is particularly true of malnutrition in the developed world) is the replacement of varied crops and varied dietary habits by the mass growing, and consuming, of single crops. When this is done the soil becomes poor and the nutritional quality of the food is low. By the year 2000 the world will have lost 95% of the genetic diversity utilised in agriculture at the start of the twentieth century.
In India, in the past, farmers grew 50,000 different varieties of rice. If the genetic engineers have their way there will be just one type of rice available. When there are 50,000 types of rice the chances of a bug wiping out more than a few species is low. But when there is only type of rice the risk of a bug wiping out an entire nation's crop has to be high. Agricultural diversity is in every way better than a single crop culture.
Genetically engineered crops of a single type which are grown in vast quantities are extremely prone to disease. Genetic engineering in agriculture creates exactly the right conditions for new, mega destructive pests to develop. When a variety of rice was introduced with resistance to eight common and important diseases it was quickly attacked by two brand new diseases.
To deal with this problem allegedly pest resistant genetically engineered crops have to be protected with vast quantities of pesticide. To stop the crops being destroyed by the chemicals genetically engineered crops are usually made to be resistant to herbicides. (Naturally enough the companies making these crops make sure that they put in resistance to their own herbicide. This enables them to sell their herbicide when they sell their seeds.)
One snag to this clever little policy is that the herbicide resistance is passed on to the surrounding weeds. The resulting superweeds then need to be attacked with some even more powerful chemical.
(Because their crops are herbicide resistant farmers automatically spray their crops with herbicide, potentially damaging the farm workers who do the spraying and the consumers who eat the contaminated crop.)
Genetic engineering, when allied to the exclusively materialistic ambitions of the pharmaceutical industry, offers solutions to health problems through the development of an endless list of new (and expensive) 'wonder' drugs. But the development of modern drugs has done very little to help treat illness and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that genetically engineered drugs will be any more effective, any safer or any less likely to kill than other pharmaceutical industry products.
The concentration of effort into the production and purchase of yet more drugs is totally misguided. Four out of five cancers can be prevented. And heart disease can be cured (as well as prevented) by adopting the right diet and lifestyle. Unfortunately, there is no profit to be made out of preventing cancer or heart disease. (And no profit for the drug industry out of curing without drugs.)
A Problem That Should Terrify Us All
Scientists, pundits and commentators all seem to have accepted gene therapy as a 'good thing'. On the contrary I believe that messing about with genes is one of the greatest threats to mankind.
And now that genetic engineering has been given the green light by politicians our future is firmly in the hands of scientists (and to an even larger extent their corporate paymasters). If you have children then I think you should be worried: for the world you bequeath them may not be the world you know.
What worries me is not simply the prospect of a mad gene manipulator producing a human baby with fins, a tail and horns (and don't believe anyone who tells you that that is impossible) but the fact that once we start messing around with genes we can, if things go wrong, change the whole nature of the human race.
What, for example, if someone makes a mistake and slips in a dominant gene that ensures that all white baby boys grow to be eight foot tall? Or what if somehow a gene that causes a rare disease gets mixed up with a gene that causes blue eyes?
What if politicians work hand in hand with genetic scientists and decide that some races should be 'altered' or even "eradicated' in some way?
What if a group of doctors, politicians and social scientists decide that in future everyone should be six feet tall – and have blue eyes and blonde hair?
(Those of you old enough to remember another Germany may have heard of something like that in the past).
What if the scientists decide that all women should have the same sized breasts? What if it is decided by decree that all children will look the same?
What if the scientists impregnate a female monkey with human sperm in order to create a 'slave' being that can do routine daily tasks? (Scientists may have already done this.)
Genetic scientists claim they will be able to tell you what diseases you'll get as you get older. Even if that claim is true (which I very much doubt) do you really want to know what horrors await you?
Food scientists will breed hens who lay cubic eggs and grow tomato plants that grow cubic tomatoes so that sandwich making becomes easier. Do we need that?
I know the 'experts' will dismiss my fears as nonsensical.
They will, of course, insist that nothing can go wrong – and that there will be committees and regulations to make sure that nothing frightening happens. But accidents happen.
Experts said the Titanic was safe.
And remember that one in six hospital beds in Britain are occupied by people who have been made ill by doctors. Since one assumes that those medical errors weren't produced on purpose they must have been a result of medical accidents.
Remember thalidomide? And the scores of other drug related health problems which have hit the headlines during the last few decades?
Time and time again scientists assure us that nothing can go wrong. And time and time again something does go wrong.
The truth is that any scientist who claims that a procedure is entirely safe is both unimaginative and intellectually impaired. Only fools believe in fool-proof systems. Science in general does not appear to me to attract the brightest of minds. And it seems to me that research scientists are the least intelligent of scientists. (I wish I could find just one to debate these issues with me in public.)
To the risk of accidental disaster we must add the risk of fraud and corruption. Surprise, surprise, not all scientists are honourable and well meaning. Fraud and dishonesty in science are now commonplace. It was recently estimated that 12% of all research work in America is fraudulent.
With fraudulent and incompetent scientists playing around with our genes we could all be in big, big trouble – soon. The idea of mad scientists using genetic experiments to create a master race, or inter-breeding men and gorillas to create stronger workers used to be just science fiction. Now it is no longer science fiction. As science writer Andrew Tyler put it in a paper in the European Medical Journal: "The new gene technologies have the capacity to change everything – to alter the actual physical fabric of every species on earth, our own included." Or consider leading economist, Robert Beckman. Writing in his book Into the Upwave he said: "Theoretically, we can take the genetic structure of a rabbit's reproductive capacity and transfer it to a man, giving him the sexual reproductive capacity of the rabbit...".
Genetic engineering now enables scientists to alter the genetic constitution of any animal or plant.
But is that really what we want?
An Awful Future
The awful future we are creating for ourselves is not the result of any evil mind. There is no single 'bad' guy to be blamed for what is happening.
The decisions and actions which seem bound to destroy the world as we know it are the responsibility of thousands of individual genetic engineers and their corporate colleagues. These people are not driven by a desire to take over the world. They just want to get rich. And although many of them are intelligent enough to realise the horrors they are unleashing on the world they are too obsessed by greed to stop. I wonder how many excuse what they are doing by arguing "If I don't do it someone else will".
And the politicians, and their bureaucratic associates, who are allowing all this to happen, are concerned only with their own personal futures. They buckle under when pressurised by the genetic engineering giants because it is the easiest solution. The US government spends twenty times as much on genetic engineering as it does on investigating sustainable agriculture and organic farming. The pressure from the genetic engineering corporations is stronger and more effective than the level of protest from the voters and so the politicians take the easy route.
I believe and hope that the level of protest from citizens is low because most people simply do not yet understand what is going on. But we have to do something. And if you and I don't do something I don't know who will.
Genetic engineering is changing the world in a way that no branch of science has ever changed the world before. Chemical pollution, and even nuclear waste pollution, were short term problems compared to the changes which are being made by the genetic engineers. Genetic changes are self perpetuating. The whole process of change builds upon itself and will soon be impossible to restrain. Once a gene from one species has been put into another species it becomes particularly instable. Genetic engineering deliberately encourages horizontal gene transfer (from one species to another). The problem is that once horizontal gene transfer has been started it keeps going. Genetic engineering is not just morally outrageous and scientifically unsound it is also pointless and exceedingly dangerous.
It may already be too late but we have to do something. If we do not try then there will be no future. We need tougher politicians whose concern is solely for the people they represent.
Politicians And Food Borne Infections
Britain's Mad Cow Disease scandal was caused when farmers turned herbivores into cannibals. But politicians have consistently defended and protected farmers – to the cost of consumers in general and meat eaters in particular.
When, in 1990, I first warned that Mad Cow Disease could prove to be a major problem I was vilified by the government for "scaremongering'. When in 1993 I repeated my warning that people who ate beef, and beef products, were taking a real risk with their health Sir Kenneth Calman, at the time Britain's chief medical officer, assured people that beef could safely be eaten by everyone. "To say that Dr Coleman's views are alarmist would be an understatement," Calman announced. It is worth remembering that it was politicians who warned us that we were all going to die of AIDS – deliberately creating the biggest false scare of the century.
When I exclusively revealed that Mad Cow Disease was being transmitted back to sheep because the carcases of cows suffering from Mad Cow Disease were being fed to sheep I was again dismissed as scaremongering. Subsequently, I was once again proved right.
It seems to me that the whole Mad Cow saga confirms my thesis that far too much decision making in our world is done in the interests of institutions and corporations rather than in the interests of individuals.
Details of how politicians allow farmers to feed their animals are coming to light with greater frequency in the wake of the appalling Mad Cow Disease scandal in the UK.
Among the cheap 'foods' fed to cattle and pigs on farms in the US are: human sewage sludge, dead cats and dogs, chicken manure, slaughterhouse waste (blood, bones and intestines), cement kiln dust, old newspapers, waste cardboard, agricultural waste (corn cobs, fruit and vegetable peelings) and old fat from restaurants and grease traps. Those who eat meat are, of course, consuming the residues of all these delectables. What a tribute all this is to the glory of twentieth century civilisation. If it is true (as I believe it is) that we are what we eat then this news should alarm all meat eaters.
What farmers choose to include in animal feed is crucial to human health. The latest horror story I have unearthed concerns the practice of feeding chicken excrement to farm livestock. This is of enormous significance to human beings because it is almost certainly an important cause of food transmitted illness. Approximately seven million Americans suffer from foodborne illnesses every year. (The figures for other western nations are proportionately similar.)
(Another reason for what is now undeniably a major epidemic is the fact that animal manure remains attached to or mixed with meat which is sent to the shops for human consumption.)
The millions of farm animals reared to satisfy the western world's apparently insatiable demand for meat between them produce an enormous amount of waste.
In America, where around seven billion chickens are raised and killed every year, the annual production of animal excrement now totals in excess of 1.5 billion tons.
Getting rid of this enormous quantity of excrement obviously poses something of a problem to farmers. You simply can't spread it all on the fields as fertiliser. (Getting rid of just some of that excrement by dumping it onto the land is yet another reason why drinking water supplies are so polluted.)
Farm animals in the United States produce ten times as much waste as the human population and an expert working at the University of Georgia recently pointed out that just seven chickens produce as much manure as one human being.
In an attempt to get rid of all this waste farmers now frequently mix animal waste into livestock feed. Chicken litter is particularly commonly dealt with in this way (perhaps because its composition makes it easier to deal with – and the quantity of it makes its disposal a real problem).
In some areas of America roughly one in every five chicken farmers use their chicken manure for cattle feed. Such laws as there are only seem to apply to commercial feed manufacturers and so farmers who keep both chicken and cattle seem to be able to feed chicken manure to cows with impunity. I have no doubt that this same practice is followed in other areas of the world where farmers keep chicken and cattle.
A big problem here is, of course, that chicken commonly carry the salmonella bug (among others). And so the cattle who eat the chicken manure also then become infected with the salmonella.
It is hardly surprising that food borne disease is now commonplace. Food from the US is, of course, imported freely into Britain and other parts of Europe.
Our politicians do nothing to halt this grossly abusive practice.
Politicians And Irradiated Food
Although food is often expensive and time consuming to grow it is often more expensive to transport, package and store it. So, to avoid the inevitable wastage (and financial cost) of food 'spoiling' food, manufacturers and distributors use a wide variety of techniques to preserve and to extend the shelf life of the products they sell.
Because of the problems associated with chemicals used to preserve food a new technique – irradiation – is now being used (with the approval of our current batch of politicians) to preserve food.
One of the substances used to irradiate food is extracted from waste products obtained from nuclear plants. Lots of scientists in very clean white coats with lots of pens in their breast pockets say that there is nothing at all to worry about.
The rays kill fungi, bacteria and insects that might otherwise make food spoil and as you can imagine this technique is proving to be very popular with food companies.
But we won't really know for sure whether irradiated food is entirely safe to eat until a large number of human beings have eaten it for a long time. One possible problem is that irradiation may reduce the number of vitamins in food. We won't probably know the significance of this for another twenty years or so. Many of the foods that seem to be most suitable for irradiation – and this includes such staples as fruit and vegetables – are the foods which are normally the healthiest, and which provide many people with vital nutrients. These foods are particularly suitable for irradiation because they go off quite quickly if they are not "preserved'. No one yet knows how many essential nutrients will be damaged by irradiation. There is, of course, also the possibility that consumers will be turned away from these excellent foods if they know that they have been irradiated.
Another problem is that irradiation does not necessarily kill all the bugs in food and it is possible that after treatment any bugs which have survived in the food may simply start to multiply again.
Some experts worry that radiating food may cause chemical changes. For example, it has been said that exposing food to ionizing radiation may just possibly result in the production of special chemical compounds called radiolytic products. These compounds will, of course, be eaten though I don't think anyone yet knows whether they will be safe to eat.
Of course, irradiated food will possibly taste and smell differently to ordinary food but since most modern, packaged food tastes pretty much like cardboard anyway I suspect that this won't really make a great deal of difference to most people.
One question which has to be asked is: "Will consumers be able to recognise when food is bad if it smells and tastes different anyway?"
I don't think anyone knows the answer to that question.
And I also don't think anyone really knows whether the individuals who work in the food irradiating plants will be exposed to danger. The first radiologists were exposed to danger because the hazards associated with the technique being used were not fully understood. I'm sure we will find out in another twenty years or so exactly what hazards are associated with radiating food.
Meanwhile, our politicians remain silent.
Water, Water Everywhere – And Not A Drop Fit To Drink
Back in 1982 – in a column I was writing in a medical journal – I raised the question of whether or not public drinking water supplies could be polluted with female hormone residues which might affect the development of male babies.
I tried to get television and radio journalists to take up the problem. And I tried to interest politicians in the topic too. But although many were horrified by the idea all soon decided that it was far too frightening and too controversial a subject.
"It'll frighten people far too much!" was the common view.
Since I was the first author to define the problem I feel that I have a responsibility to explain the full horrors of the theory. Besides – it still worries me. And so I thought I'd share it with you so that you can worry too.
For it isn't just the female hormones – residues from the contraceptive pill – which might be causing problems.
At the time when I first wrote about this subject I was so alarmed by what I had discovered that I spent over a year doing research before I wrote the article.
My fear was built on several pieces of information.
- ¨ Fact one: More and more people are taking increasingly powerful medicinal drugs such as antibiotics, painkillers, tranquillisers, sleeping tablets, hormones and steroids. Huge numbers of people take drugs every day. Not many people go through a whole year without taking at least one course of tablets. In Britain 42% of all women and 32% of all men will take a prescribed medicine today (and tomorrow and the day after that). The figure for women does not include the contraceptive pill. And on top of the prescribed drugs there are all the non prescription drugs that are taken – pills bought over the chemists counter and taken day in and day out.
- ¨ Fact two: Many drugs are excreted in the urine when the body has finished with them. For example, up to 75% of a dose of a tranquilliser may be excreted in the urine. Similar figures can be found for other drugs.
- ¨ Fact three: After going through standard purification procedures waste water is often discharged into fresh water rivers.
- ¨ Fact four: Drinking water supplies are often taken from fresh water rivers – the same rivers into which the waste water has been discharged.
- ¨ Fact five: Water purification programmes were designed many years ago – before doctors started prescribing vast quantities of drugs for millions of patients and before the problem of removing drug residues had been thought of.
Even someone with the modest, shoe-size IQ of a government minister can surely see where all this is leading.
Turn on a tap, make yourself a cup of tea and what you get could be a cocktail containing leftover chemicals from other peoples tranquillisers, sleeping pills, antibiotics, contraceptive pills, heart drugs, anti-arthritis pills and so on.
Back in 1982 I wrote that: "with an increasing number of people taking drugs there must be a risk that the drinking water supplies will eventually become contaminated so heavily that people using ordinary drinking water will be effectively taking drugs. Or have we already reached that point: and are people who drink water in certain areas of the country already passively involved in daily drug taking?"
Back in 1982 no one seemed to know the answer to that frightening question.
And today I still don't know the answer.
Are you an involuntary drug taker? Could you be addicted to any of the drug residues which might be in your drinking water? Could you be taking regular supplies of other people's antibiotics? Are you taking contraceptive hormone leftovers? Could these drug residues be affecting your fertility? Could drug residues affect the health of any unborn children?
No one in the Labour government seems concerned by these questions.
I think they should be.
Politicians Deny The Hazard Of Electricity
Electricity is almost certainly more dangerous than you think. I believe that if you spend most of your time working with or close to an electrical appliance, if you live or work near to an electricity supply line, or if you spend your days working with electrical equipment then the chances of you developing cancer of one sort or another are considerably increased.
Of course, the men in empty suits won't tell you this. They'll frighten you half to death about minority threats such as AIDS and radon because the former is a politically useful threat and the latter seems like an excellent way to boost the building industry, but they won't give you any warning about the danger of electricity because they don't want to annoy the many large and powerful business interests which sell, market, service or supply electricity and electrical equipment.
But I certainly think that the evidence is pretty convincing. And in America, where people only vote with their wallets when they really believe something, house prices near to electricity supply lines have fallen dramatically in recent years.
Just look at these facts:
- ¨ The dean of a school of public health said: "The present state of affairs is like the correlation between smoking and lung cancer 30 years ago". He added that, at a conservative estimate, a third of all childhood cancers are caused by electrical fields.
- ¨ A study of nearly 500 children showed that children whose mothers used electric blankets when they were pregnant were two and a half times as likely to develop brain tumours.
- ¨ A study of nearly 700 children showed that children who lived in houses near to power distribution lines were two or three times as likely to die of leukaemia or brain tumours.
- ¨ A study at an American University showed that men who work as electricians or electrical engineers are ten times as likely to develop certain types of brain tumour.
- ¨ Experts found that workers for a telephone company who worked alongside electricity power lines were seven times as likely to develop leukaemia.
The evidence is extremely convincing. In my view the only real task left is to quantify the risks accurately. And that is proving difficult. And, you may not be surprised to hear, it is taking time.
I have recently seen newspaper reports announcing the 'good news' that there is "no hard evidence linking power lines and cancer".
The key here lies in those words "hard evidence'.
Just what does that impressive sounding phrase really mean?
Well, "hard evidence' usually means laboratory tests – commonly animal experiments. Despite the fact that it is now crystal clear to anyone with two neurones to rub together that animal experiments are of absolutely no relevance to human beings, scientists still persist in doing animal lab tests in preference to studying relevant and significant epidemiological results involving human patients.
Animal experiments can easily be used to produce commercially useful results. If one set of scientists produced hard evidence showing that one group of animals had developed cancer after being exposed to electricity I have no doubt that another set of scientists would counter this claim with evidence showing that a second group of animals exposed to electricity had not developed cancer. If this failed, the experiments showing a link would probably be dismissed as irrelevant on the grounds that animals are different to people.
If pushed to contemplate 'hard evidence' without using animal experiments the white-coated scientists would probably claim that a definite link between electricity and cancer could only be obtained by performing a double blind clinical trial. This would mean that one group of volunteer patients would have to stand directly under a power line for ten, twenty or thirty years while a second group of matched volunteer patients would have to stand directly under what looked like a power line (but wasn't) for exactly the same length of time. For the trial to be 'double blind' none of the volunteers or the scientists conducting the experiment would know which of the two possible power lines was really 'live'. At the end of the trial the researchers would simply count up the number of volunteers in each group who had developed cancer. And if a statistically significantly greater number of volunteers in the first group had developed cancer then that would be regarded as pretty 'hard evidence' that power lines cause cancer. (Although even then I have no doubt that companies around the world involved in the electricity industry would think of all sorts of reasons why the research results should be ignored).
You will not be surprised to hear that no such trial has been performed. And so there is no 'hard evidence' proving a link between electricity and cancer.
Incidentally, a similar defence (no 'hard evidence' is available) was used when I first pointed out that eating meat causes cancer. Various defenders of farmers, butchers and the huge international meat industry quickly pointed out that there is no 'hard evidence' proving such a link. I had to assume that what they meant by this was that no double blind trial had been conducted to show that volunteers who eat nothing but meat for thirty years are more likely to get cancer than volunteers who eat something that looks, tastes and smells like meat but isn't. The volunteers would not be allowed to eat vegetables – or indeed any other foods – with their meat since these might interfere with the trial. For reasons which I can understand, but not accept or condone, the meat industry doesn't seem keen to accept the overwhelming epidemiological evidence linking meat eating to cancer.
The same eternally useful phrase ('hard evidence') is sometimes used by those who struggle to defend the tobacco industry.
"There is no hard evidence linking tobacco to cancer," they will claim.
And they are right.
To get hard evidence linking the smoking of tobacco to cancer scientists would have to persuade one group of volunteers to smoke cigarettes containing tobacco for a lengthy period of time (say thirty years) and another, matching group of volunteers to smoke cigarettes containing no tobacco for an equal length of time. At the end of the thirty years the two groups would be compared. If there was evidence that there were more cases of cancer in one group than in the other then that would be 'hard evidence'.
It is also sometimes argued that there is no 'hard evidence' linking drunken driving to road traffic accidents.
Once again, to obtain 'hard evidence' of such an association scientists would have to...well, I'm sure you can guess the rest.
The fact is, of course, that there is overwhelming epidemiological evidence to support all these links. I firmly believe that there is plenty of available evidence to show that drunken driving leads to more accidents, that smoking tobacco increases your chances of developing lung cancer and that eating meat causes cancer.
And I also believe that living under – or working close to – a power line, increases your chances of developing cancer too.
There is plenty of convincing epidemiological evidence available. But generations of spin doctors have, over the years, persuaded doctors and journalists and politicians not to regard epidemiological research as "hard evidence'.
The one thing that all these health threats have in common is that they are strongly protected by large, powerful and profitable industries. There is a good deal of money at stake. The electricity industry and the meat industry are both understandably keen to delay the day when a link has to be acknowledged between their highly profitable products and cancer (or, indeed, any illness).
Electrical Appliances May Be Dangerous Too
In my view the threat doesn't just come from power lines – any electromagnetic field can be a danger. The closer you are to an electrical or magnetic field – the greater the danger.
The industry experts don't agree with me about these hazards. They insist that electricity is safe. But would they tell you if they thought it wasn't? And can you trust them?
The electricity companies are well aware that it is vital to prevent a legal precedent being established. Eight of Britain's top electricity companies recently raised an £8 million fighting fund to spend on lawyers and other experts as the law suits over electromagnetic fields start to flow. Personally, I rather doubt that electricity companies would tell you even if they believed that electrical fields posed a threat – if they did they would be opening themselves wide open to a million lawsuits.
In the next few years there will be a great deal of discussion about whether or not electromagnetic fields (EMFs) can cause cancer. It isn't difficult to predict that the electrical industry will consistently argue that there is no 'hard evidence' to support the claim that there is any link between electricity and cancer. However, my advice is that you should assume that such a link does exist. I am convinced by the epidemiological data – which is widely based and, in my view, about as solid as you can get. And huge numbers of people are involved. In the UK, for example, there are around 50,000 people living near or underneath high voltage cables. How many homes are there which do not have an electricity supply and a range of electrical appliances?
So, why do politicians remain silent?
Money seems a possible answer.
Cancer isn't the only possible hazard associated with electricity. Severe and persistent headaches, muscle pain, otherwise unexplained fatigue, damaged immune system (with a resultant increased susceptibility to infection), Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis), cataracts and pregnancy problems are some of the other possible dangers which may be linked to exposure to electromagnetic fields and radiation.
The international electrical industry, and associated government bodies around the world are, not surprisingly, busily reassuring consumers that the risks associated with electrity are either non existent or slight (and are sneering at people like me who dare to suggest that there are hazards) while at the same time they are, in my view, putting far too little effort into trying to find the truth about the risks.
The reality is that the dangers I'm worried about exist when people spend large chunks of their lives in close proximity to electrically operated equipment.
I agree that it sometimes seems as though everything in life is a potential health hazard. It is vital to put things into perspective and to try to assess the relative hazards of different dangers. But we need courageous politicians who have the guts to force the electricity industry to ask the questions which need asking.
Microwave Ovens: A Major Health Hazard?
There are millions of microwave ovens in use around the world. Unlike traditional ovens they work by using short wave electromagnetic radiation to heat up food.
But, although microwave ovens are widely sold, widely used and sit in millions of kitchens heating (and affecting) the food that people eat neither governments nor manufacturers seem to have done proper clinical trials to find out exactly how safe these products are.
In my book Food for Thought (first published in 1994 by the European Medical Journal) I asked specific questions about microwave ovens.
The first questions were: "Are the waves that are used to do the cooking harmful to human beings?" and "If any of the microwaves escape from the oven will they harm your health?"
The other question, possibly even more alarming, was even simpler: "Does using a microwave oven affect the food you eat in any harmful way?"
In 1998 The Journal of Natural Science published an extremely significant paper dealing with the effects of microwaves on humans. The paper, was written by William Kopp, who worked at the Atlantis Rising Educational Center in Portland, Oregon from 1977 to 1979 and who, while working there, gathered together early documents detailing what was then known about the harmful effects of microwave ovens on human beings.
By writing this paper Kopp seems to have annoyed a powerful lobby. According to the Journal of Natural Science he subsequently changed his name and disappeared. This may sound dramatic but I have met another researcher into the danger of microwave ovens who has been subjected to threats and whose attempts to publicise the truth about microwave ovens has been met with lawsuits and other attempts to silence him.
Kopp reported that microwave cooking ovens were originally developed by the Nazis for use by mobile support operations during the planned invasion of the Soviet Union. The aim was to eliminate the logistical problem of finding cooking fuels – as well as to cut down cooking times. The initial German research was conducted by the Germans in 1942-3 at the Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin, during the Barbarossa military campaign.
After the end of World War II, writes Kopp, the Allies discovered the medical research which related to microwave ovens. Experimental microwave equipment was transferred both to the US War Department and to the Soviet Union for investigation. In the Soviet Union research work was done at the Institute of Radio Technology at Kinsk and the Institute of Radio Technology at Rajasthan.
It was in the Soviet Union that most of the research was done and published. And it was the Soviet Union, reported Kopp, which found that a human did not even need to ingest microwaved food substances to be in danger, because even exposure to the energy field itself was sufficient to cause serious adverse side effects.
Kopp pointed out that Soviet scientists were so alarmed about the hazards associated with microwave ovens that the Soviet Union produced a state law in 1976 which forbad the use of any microwave apparatus.
Biological Effects Of Exposure
Here is a list of some of the adverse effects listed by the Soviet scientists back in the 1970s as having been observed when human beings were exposed to microwaves.
- 1. A destabilisation in the production of hormones and the maintenance of hormone balance in both males and females.
- 2. Brainwave disturbance in the alpha, theta and delta wave signal patterns.
- 3. A breakdown of the human 'life energy field'.
- 4. A degeneration and destabilisation of internal cellular membrane properties.
- 5. A degeneration and breakdown of electrical nerve impulses within the cerebrum.
- 6. A long term cumulative loss of vital energies within humans, animals and plants which were located within a 500 m radius of the operational equipment.
- 7. Long lasting residual effects in the nervous system and lymphatic systems.
- 8. Negative psychological effects (produced as a result of the brain wave pattern changes) which included: loss of memory, loss of ability to concentrate, changes in intellect and emotional responses and sleep disturbances.
Soviet Conclusions Confirmed
More recently obtained evidence seems to confirm that the danger of microwave ovens is not confined to what happens to the food that is cooked inside them.
Despite the protective shields with which they may be fitted microwave ovens give out extra low frequency electromagnetic fields which may be high enough to produce lymphatic cancer in children. And when white blood cells are exposed to the sort of electromagnetic fields given out by microwave ovens their ability to fight disease may be reduced dramatically.
World wide there are now over 7,000 scientific publications in existence dealing with the health damage caused by short wave transmitters. The damage to cells and cell membranes caused by electromagnetic fields has been well known to scientists for years. (Although, naturally, the relevant industries have steadfastly followed the early example of the tobacco industry and denied that their products could possible cause cancer or, indeed, any other serious health problem).
Cancer Causing Effects Of Microwave Ovens
The scientists who examined food which had been cooked in microwave ovens came across a number of serious problems. Here is a summary, listed in William P Kopp's paper in the Journal of Natural Science of some of the serious changes which have been identified:
- 1. In a statistically high percentage of persons, microwaved foods caused stomach and intestinal cancerous growths, as well as a gradual breakdown of the function of the digestive and excretive systems.
- 2. When meat was heated sufficiently for eating the cancer causing agent d-nitrosodiethanoloamine was created.
- 3. Cancer causing agents in milk and cereal grains were produced.
- 4. Eating food that had been heated by microwave resulted in a higher percentage of cancer cells within the blood.
- 5. Microwave emissions caused serious alterations to frozen fruits when they were thawed in a microwave oven.
- 6. Changes took place in raw, cooked or frozen vegetables when they were exposed to microwaves for 'extremely short' periods of time.
- 7. Because of chemical changes which had taken place in food that was heated in a microwave oven human lymphatic systems malfunctioned with a result that the human body did not adequately protect itself against some types of cancerous growth.
Food Value Destroyed
In addition, scientists have found that microwave heating also causes :"significant decreases in the nutritive value of all foods researched".
Among other serious problems they found that there was a drop in the availability of B complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and essential minerals in foods that had been heated in a microwave oven.
The September 1998 edition of The Journal of Natural Science contained yet more evidence drawing attention to the possible hazards associated with microwave ovens.
- 1. In 1990 the Berlin Foundation for Product Tests found that all the microwave ovens it tested emitted microwaves while operating.
- 2. As far as microwaves are concerned the most sensitive part of the body is the lens in the eye. Anyone who operates a microwave oven (particularly at eye level) which leaks could go blind.
- 3. Studies with broccoli and carrots have revealed that cell structures are destroyed in the microwave oven. (In conventional ovens the cell walls remain intact.)
- 4. Cooking in a microwave oven creates free radicals – known to be a possible cancer trigger.
- 5. Food cooked in a microwave oven may be cooked unevenly – leaving possible 'cold spots' inside the food. This may result in the possible development of listeria or salmonella infection.
- 6. Water samples were heated, both conventionally and in a microwave oven. The water samples were then used to help grain germinate. Grain did not germinate when in contact with water which had been heated in a microwave oven.
- 7. At the end of the 1980s the American National Council for Radiation Protection is reported to have announced that there was an increased incidence of malformations among children of mothers exposed to microwave ovens.
- 8. In 1991 a patient in Oklahoma is alleged to have died of anaphylaxis after receiving a blood transfusion with blood warmed in a microwave oven. It was claimed that the microwave irradiation had altered the blood and thereby caused the patient's death.
- 9. Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California have discovered that microwaving human breast milk at high temperatures produced a marked decrease in activity of all the tested anti-infective factors naturally present in breast milk. The growth of E.coli was 18 times that observed in normal human breast milk.
- 10. In 1989 the Swiss biologist Dr Hans U.Hertel, together with another researcher, conducted a study on the effects of microwaved food which proved that food which had been cooked in a microwave oven caused significant changes in the blood. The authors noted that these changes indicated the beginning of a pathological process (eg the beginning of cancer). Afterwards the second researcher, who had worked with Dr Hertel, disassociated himself from the results and his earlier interpretation of the results. In a private letter to Dr Hertel the second researcher admitted that he feared 'consequences' and that the safety of his family was more important to him than anything else.
The October/November 1998 issue of Nexus magazine reports that a physicist has recently presented research showing that the human body generates and emits its own low intensity radiation. The physicist believes that the human body's metabolism generates its own electromagnetic field. The weak emissions of light which are produced by the body are an outward sign of an orderly, functioning metabolism. This research opens up another series of questions about the effect external sources of microwave radiation may have on living tissues.
It seems perfectly clear to me that microwave ovens should be banned. And any such ban should only be lifted if the manufacturers are prepared to do research which either shows that these original research findings are inaccurate or shows that there are ways to counteract the problems.
But a ban on microwave ovens seems about as likely as the medical profession standing up and admitting that the orthodox approach to cancer treatment has failed.
The manufacture and sale of microwave ovens is now big business and these convenient items have become fixtures in canteens, restaurants, hotels and homes all over the world.
In The Journal of Natural Science Dr Hans U.Hertel of the World Foundation for Natural Science in Switzerland, points out that: "...research of the biological effects of electromagnetic fields on life, especially connected with technical microwaves, is successfully being suppressed. Such research projects are, therefore, only possible on a private basis while the relevant authorities do everything they can to keep the findings from the public, denying them, making them look ridiculous or dismissing them as non scientific."
I believe that Dr Hertel is absolutely right.
Mainstream newspapers, magazines, television and radio have consistently ignored or denied the threat posed by microwave ovens. Politicians have refused to ask for these devices to be properly tested. In my experience, attempts to publicise the possible hazards (and the fact that the industry making and selling microwave ovens has never done adequate testing on the effects on human health) seem to have been met with more concern for the health of the microwave industry than for the health and safety of consumers.
Back in January 1990 I warned, in a newspaper article, that thousands might die every year from the effect of food cooked in microwave ovens. I pointed out that it could be 10, 20 or 30 years before the damage done by microwave ovens could be fully assessed and added that I was appalled that manufacturers had not fully tested micro wave ovens.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) subsequently broadcast a programme attacking me for this warning and blaming me as the source of a 'scare' about the heating of milk in microwave ovens. My offer to appear on the programme to discuss the issue and defend my point of view was rejected.
(Rather to my surprise, my complaint about the BBC's Food and Drink programme was upheld by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission which described the BBC programme as "unfair to Dr Coleman". )
We Have The Power To Change All This
If our world is in a mess (which I believe it is) it is our fault, for you and I have the power. You and I decide who represents us in Parliament. We pay our political representatives to run things on our behalf. But we have the ultimate responsibility for what goes on. And we've screwed up.
Our single biggest mistake has been to hand over virtually all our authority to politicians who are members of three big political parties.
The country is run by politicians who put themselves first, their party a very close second, the country a distant third and you and I so far last that we are virtually forgotten about. Politicians make decisions in the interests of their party before the country or their constituents because the party controls their careers.
Party politicians are beholden to and terrified of the very small group of people in each constituency who decide which candidate to select (or deselect).
At Westminster politicians are controlled by the party. Politicians know that the only way to get any real power is to suck up to the morons who have already sucked up to the morons in charge who, in turn, got where they are by sucking up to the morons who were in charge before they were.
It is hardly surprising that an unhealthy proportion of MPs were originally trained as lawyers. Lawyers are used to being two faced and lying for a living and can, therefore, cope with all this. Plato once pointed out that the "swarming of lawyers is a mark of a diseased and profligate republic". When the lawyers also become politicians the disease becomes even more malignant. It also seems to me to be sigificant that most modern MPs have little or no real experience of life. Many are bereft of ideas and principles; they are front men and women for parties with no real policies
Look At What We've Got
Look at the three parties we have chosen to run the country for us.
The Conservative party is much hated, totally discredited and irretrievably corrupt. I've met hundreds of Tory politicians but most of them don't have the wit or wisdom to tie their own shoelaces or clean their teeth without professional help.
The Labour party, once the stronghold of honest working men, is now packed with brown nosed, oleaginous Uriah Heeps, as slippery as eels, as trustworthy as investment advisors; unctuous and cryptorchid and with all the charm and sincerity of silk suited vomit. Labour leader Tony Blair has talked of 'traditional values' but I find it difficult to believe that he even knows what this phrase means. It seems to me that the Labour Party will say, and promise, anything that they think will win them votes.
As for the Liberal Democrats...well, I truly believe that a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote well and truly wasted. The Liberal Democrats offers all the disadvantages of party politics and none of the dubious advantages. Vote Liberal Democrat and you get a candidate who has to put his party first but whose party cannot offer voters anything in return.
Liberal Democrats seem to me to be so terrified of upsetting any potential voter that they are not prepared to take a stance on anything. I have never known such a bunch of passionless fence sitters.
The Only Hope
I believe that the only hope for Britain is for Parliament to become the preserve of independent, strong willed, plain speaking candidates, who are driven not by the desire to carve a career but by simple, unadorned passion for truth and justice.
I would like to see a Parliament made up of men and women who believe in justice, freedom and honour and who believe that the rights of the individual come before the rights of the State. In the world of professional politics today passion is unfashionable. The qualities most admired seem to be "neutral', 'objective' and "fairminded'. But I cannot think of one social, technical or artistic advance produced by a 'bland' man.
I would dearly like to see the party political system replaced with a system whereby individual constituencies were represented by passionate, determined individuals who held strong views (and wanted to see their views turned into reality) but who also cared about the people they were elected to represent.
I would love to see voters choosing MPs not according to party politics but according to the worth of each individual candidate.
A Parliament composed of strong minded individuals who elected their own leaders and managed the country with a firm hand could move Britain forwards with real vigour. The country's politicians should be a board of directors responsible to the shareholders (the electors). And the day to day administration of the country should be in the hands of individuals who are forced to take real responsibility for what they do. Those directors, administrators and managers who succeed in running the country well should be rewarded. Those who fail should be fired.
A Peter Pan Grasp Of Reality
Whether you spend your life cleaning out lavatories, giving blow jobs to weary businessmen or performing haemorrhoidectomies you can start each new grey day comforted with the thought that you are surely unlikely to make such a cock-up of your job as Tony Blair is making of his.
Britain's premier buffoon seems to have Peter Pan's grasp of reality. He genuinely seems to believe that he's solving the Irish problem. He is trying to cut crime by making more laws and doesn't seem to have realised that because his government's latest gestapo style legislation means that it is almost impossible to do anything without breaking the law the crime statistics are bound to keep on going up. Britain is drifting slowly down the economic scale; it won't be long before we see Nigeria and Mexico sweep past us on the road up to prosperity.
Blair seems so staggeringly challenged in the skill and talent department that I'm beginning to suspect that the nation is being managed by an unfertilised ovum. Maybe the sperm never got there. Maybe the egg just developed by itself.
But Tony Blair isn't the real problem.
What really terrifies me about our cold-blooded and, to me, seemingly intellectually-challenged leader, and this wakes me up at night and it should worry you too, is not that many voters think he's blessed with as much charisma as a used condom and rather less intelligence than a coffee table, incapable of taking on the responsibility of being a conductor on a driver only bus, but that something like half the population think he is sensible, sane, rational human being doing a good job under difficult circumstances.
Who, in the name of Zeus, are these people who think that the man pretending to be Prime Minister is doing a good job?
How can anyone think that Tony Blair is playing billiards with the right number of balls? Blair, like the rest of the Labour government, makes plankton look cuddly and bright. Can you imagine Tony Blair ever saying "I have a dream!" and really meaning it?
Our entire government makes Harold Macmillan look like a statesman. Even dead Harold Macmillan has more leadership qualities than the current cabinet of zombies have between them.
The only sensible option is a political revolution.
Let's Start A Political Revolution
We can either sit back, watch TV and let the government get on with running (and ruining) the country their way – on behalf of the large corporations which they now represent; or we can try to protest using traditional methods (which won't work because the government controls them); or we can try something new and daring that could really make a difference.
It is my belief that in order to bring power back to the people we need to do something new and dramatic. We need to find a way around the powerful alliance between businessmen and politicians.
A physical uprising is ruled out because modern governments rule by force and control the media. A modern flag waving, barricade building revolution would last no more than minutes.
I believe that the only answer is a new political party: The People's Party.
We have to put power back where it truly belongs: in the hearts and minds of people who care.
Outdated Fears And Prejudices
The way that animals are treated, and the ways in which pro-animal campaigners are frequently ignored, constantly marginalised and often victimised are typical examples of much that is wrong with our society.
Our politicians are controlled not by the people who voted them into power (and whose views they were elected to represent) but, to a very large extent, by those with wealth and control of the media. Most important of all, our leaders are now controlled by the social and commercial institutions which we have created.
Most people are too cowed and too easily convinced by outdated prejudices and fears to fight for change.
As J. Howard Moore pointed out back in 1906: "The persistence with which savage ideas and instincts continue to influence men long after those ideas and instincts have really become anachronistic and vestigial is well illustrated by civilised men and women everywhere. The sun continues to 'rise' and 'set' in all civilised lands just as it used to do to the savage, although men have long since learned that it does not do either."
Many people voted for Labour at the 1997 election because they believed that if Labour won power then things would change.
But things haven't worked out that way. Labour has bowed down to farmers, butchers, hunters, the Lords, foreign dictators wanting to buy arms, drug companies, food companies and all the very same people who ruled the world when the Tories were in power. Nothing has changed except the names and faces of the men and women with the chauffeur driven cars and the public expense accounts. Once again we have a government which seems to be run by people who believe we exist to serve them – rather than the other way round.
Time For A New Strategy For Success
The Labour Party, the only party to make any serious promises on animal issues, has shown that it does not value the promises it makes. Machiavelli said: "Put not your faith in princes'. I rather suspect that if he had been alive today he would have said: "Put not your faith in the Labour Party." It is now clear that Labour politicians will, like Conservative politicians, ignore promises if these appear to be inconvenient. There is, therefore, no hope offered by traditional politicians.
Pre-1997 election strategies for improving animal welfare have to be abandoned because they are no longer valid; they were largely based on persuading politicians (via the public) that certain issues were important and needed action. This approach does not work because politicians can no longer be trusted.
Followers Not Leaders
There once was a time when (at least some) politicians were honest and honourable and led from the front: inspired by personal beliefs and a sense of duty. There was a time when politicians would resign in disgrace and embarrassment if found guilty of wrong doing or poor judgement. That time has long gone.
Today's politicians react rather than act. They believe in expediency rather than integrity. Modern politicians are followers, not leaders, and they adapt their policies (if that is not too grand a word for a disparate set of ever changing prejudices) to fit what they believe will be in the best interests of themselves and their corporate sponsors. These aren't 'policies' – they are 'convenience policies'.
Once they have found a 'policy' which their researchers tell them will go down well they sell it like a new brand of soap. Passion and conviction are not words which modern politicians would understand.
(There was an excellent if light hearted example of the way politicians follow rather than lead during the World Cup in the summer of 1998. At the end of one important match I watched with amusement as a leading world political figure followed the crowd around him as though playing 'Simple Simon'. After the crowd around him started to clap he started to clapped. After they climbed onto their seats he climbed onto his seat. Every movement he made mimicked the crowd around him. He always followed and never led.)
Modern politicians may start out with ideals, principles and convictions but they gradually convince themselves that they have to be pragmatic and practical in order to achieve power.
Once they have the power they continue to prevaricate, partly because they are used to it, partly because they have left their principles so far behind that they have forgotten what it means to do something solely because you believe it is the right thing to do, and partly because they have fallen in love with the trappings of power, prestige, fame and success – all of which they are desperate to retain at any cost.
Politicians excuse their failure to act by claiming that if they did act they might prejudice their political careers – neatly and conveniently forgetting the fact that their original reason for acquiring political power was, allegedly at least, to be able to do the very thing they are now saying they cannot do because it might jeopardise their position.
Political parties used to have ideals and principles. Without those essential ingredients all that is left is layer upon layer of half truths and downright lies.
Today's politicians sell the power and responsibility they have been loaned to the corporate sponsors with the deepest pocket.
Next time you are told by an 'official' body that tap water is safe to drink, that all alternative anti-cancer drugs are unsafe and ineffective, that all prescription drugs are thoroughly tested, that a vegetarian diet will lead to nutritional shortages, that heart disease must be treated with drugs or surgery, that chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery are the only way to tackle cancer and so on and so on you should remember the track record of official and semi official organisations.
In the medium and long term we need politicians who will insist that the truth be told.
Our politicians have failed us.
The great political leaders (Lincoln, Churchill and de Gaulle spring to mind as examples) didn't follow polls or focus groups or devote themselves to telling everyone what they believed they wanted to hear. They didn't employ hordes of scriptwriters, advisers, make up artists and campaign consultants. They didn't have image advisers and they didn't have their teeth capped or their hair dyed. They did have ideas, beliefs and philosophies to offer.
It is hardly surprising that honest, sensitive, thoughtful citizens who do care tend to feel demoralised and despondent and to lose hope in the future.
When footballers behave badly on the field no one is surprised when the fans behave badly on the terraces and in the stands.
When politicians behave dishonestly it is hardly surprising that the nations they lead become devoid of courage and moral fibre.
When politicians do what they think they can get away with, and are driven solely by a need to be re-elected, when they take no notice of what they have promised and are unconcerned with what is right or wrong, it is hardly surprising that there is a general feeling of spiritual malaise.
Political integrity may seem a long way away from endemic social 'depression' but it isn't.
What Law Says Politicians Must Be Dishonourable?
Why do we have to accept that politicians have to hand in their morals and their ethical beliefs when they are elected to represent us? There is no law of nature which says that politicians cannot be honourable.
We can do better than Tony Blair and the Labour Party. Their betrayal should be a stimulus to us to fight for change.
The politicians (whether they be members of the Conservative party or the Labour party) will argue that they have to make changes slowly and that compromise is essential.
But why should they (and that means we) compromise on issues which are moral and ethical in nature?
Would the world as we know it really fall apart if the big, immoral drug companies took their business elsewhere – or, better still, went out of business? Would there really be a major threat to our way of life and our standard of living if Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles could not go hunting?
Should we not stick to our principles even if sticking to our principles means making sacrifices and making changes that might be uncomfortable?
We Need A Battle Plan
Just hoping that things will get better will get us nowhere. The animal abusers (whether they be hunters, vivisectors, butchers or genetic engineers) work well together; drawn together by their evil purposes.
Orthodox political campaigning is utterly pointless. The politicians have shown that they are prepared to make promises which they will break without turning a hair. They do not hesitate to renege on deals they make and have no sense of shame.
Peaceful protest is becoming more and more difficult. The Labour government is not above banning demonstrations. The Labour government has shown that it does not believe in freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is no longer a right or a reality.
Keeping Your Head Down Isn't An Option
There are, of course, those who would rather be kept in the dark about what is happening in the world. "I feel very depressed about the state of the world," wrote one reader of mine recently. "I agree with you that we can no longer trust politicians, doctors, bureaucrats, food companies, the police, the courts or, indeed, anyone in power. Everywhere I look I see betrayal and deceit. But I don't agree with you when you say that we should all protest. Several of my friends tried protesting – two got arrested, one lost his job and one was thrown out of his rented accommodation because his landlady saw his picture in the local paper and decided that he was a troublemaker. There isn't anything we can do about the way things are. The only answer is to keep your head down, lead a quiet life and hope no one notices you."
I understand that people frequently feel frustrated. Believe me I get angry and frustrated too. I too am sometimes overwhelmed with a sense of despair. I too cry tears of anger, sorrow and frustration.
For thirty years now I have been harassed, threatened and sued by the people who want to keep on abusing people and animals. My books and advertisements have been banned and I have been fired by newspaper and magazine editors more times than I can remember. (On one occasion an editor fired me with the words: "Your trouble is that you make people think'. I liked that. I would be proud to have it as an epitaph.)
The General Medical Council once told me that they got more complaints about me than about any other doctor. None of the complaints came from patients – they all came from drug companies and other individuals and organisations whose nefarious activities I had exposed. In the absence of any other excuse they all wanted me to be struck off for "advertising'.
I have been endlessly lied about. I have been vilified by government ministers, Department of Health spokesmen, doctors' representatives and numerous other official and quasi official bodies. In every case the complaint has been that I have threatened an industry of some kind. In each case I have, in the long run, been proved right.
It has often been tempting to lock the door, draw the curtains and give up fighting the establishment.
But I can't and I won't.
As long as people who have power cheat and lie, break promises and suppress information that should be available to everyone I will continue to fight to uncover hidden and disguised truths.
It seems to me that it is important that the truth is published and that people can read it. It's important that as many of us as is possible know what is going on and it is also important that the corrupt and the cruel know that we know.
The truth is that we can make a difference. Alone you and I can only make a very small difference. But together we can make a real difference. Together we can change things. We have already changed many things over the past few decades.
Fighting against injustice and for the truth can be a tiring business.
Because fighting and complaining about the big issues is tiring most people become unquestioning and uncritical. They will complain if a shop assistant over charges them but they won't take on the big issues. Most people know that the truth can be a dangerous commodity and so they don't want to know the truth.
However, I believe that keeping your head down is selfish and ultimately defeatist. Those who do not protest about the obscenely fascist and grotesquely unfriendly actions of governments and large corporations are just as guilty as the politicians and business executives who are responsible (either consciously or by default) for attempting to turn the entire world into a massive '1984' style Prisoner of War camp.
We have to protest – it is the only worthwhile sign that we are truly free. We have to stand up for what we believe in. We have to make our voices heard. We have to protest about unjust laws. We have to complain about immoral and unethical practices. If we don't stick to our ideals and our values then we lose our pride, our passions and our very reason for living.
Politicians Have Weaknesses
And we can make a difference because politicians (and large corporations) all have their weaknesses.
Today's politicians, for example, are concerned with just two things: being re-elected, and therefore retaining their power, and how history will see them. They know that they will not be remembered for what they did but for what people think they did. History isn't about what really happened; it is about what people believe happened. And, by and large, what they believe is what they are told.
Knowing their weaknesses, their vanities and their needs helps give us strength and power over the thoughtless, the selfish, the uncaring and the insensitive beings who are raping our planet and abusing and torturing human beings and animals.
But there is one thing which gives us more power than anything else; one weapon which is ultimately irresistible. And that is the truth.
By finding writing about and talking about the truth we can bring light into dark corners. It is our only real hope.
However corrupt the politicians may become we must always keep our spirit alive. We must not allow ourselves to be frightened into silence about the things we care about. If we all do nothing on the grounds that the little we can do cannot possibly make a difference then what can possibly ever change?
The truth is the one weapon which will eventually defeat the politicians. The truth terrifies modern politicians just as much as sunlight terrifies Dracula.
Speak out on topics you care about. The politicians will ignore you today. And they will ignore you tomorrow. But eventually the truth will win. It always does.
Articulate Without Saying Anything
Politics is now a cruelly dishonest business dominated by telegenic politicians who manage to be articulate and superficially charming without saying anything. The Labour Party has betrayed any principles it may have had before the election. Pro-animal campaigners can gain nothing from talking to Labour Party politicians (or lobbying them). Labour politicians have already promised us what we want – and then failed to deliver. What is the point in talking to them any more? How can we possibly believe anything they say in future? We can't and shouldn't.
We have to show politicians that by betraying animals – and us – they have endangered their own future.
The only thing politicians really care about is power – their own power.
Modern Politics Is All About Expediency And Image
Modern politics is all about superficialities. There is no room for honest passion. And there is too much secrecy. There is no place for simple decency. Consistency and honesty are less relevant than expediency and image. British Prime Minister Tony Blair was (like US President Bill Clinton) elected because he has superficial good looks. He is just another lawyer with a synthetic, toothy smile and a smarmy carpet salesman manner. Is it any coincidence that Blair and Clinton and their wives are all lawyers? (In October 1998 the US House of Representatives Judiciary committee had 37 members of whom 34 were lawyers.)
Members of the Labour government probably believe that they know best, and that the electors just don't understand how difficult it is to run a country. They will argue that many different views have to be balanced.
But the end result is that we are being governed by compromise. Labour's failure to fulfil its pre-election pledges means that millions of us – the honest, caring majority – have been disenfranchised by a cynical government.
The bottom line is that morals and ethics are ignored.
No one takes any notice of what is right or wrong any more. It is like saying: "OK, we know that Mr Hitler is a rather bad chap but he has got all those gas ovens heated up and if we move in and interfere there will be a terrible effect on the German economy and unemployment. We have to think of the long term and the big picture."
Our Current Politicians Don't Care
Experience since May 1997 has taught us that our existing politicians do not care about the people who put them into power. They do not care about the poor, the sick or the old. They do not care about moral issues and their actions are not defined or regulated by ethical boundaries.
It says a lot about his attitudes that as British Prime Minister Tony Blair felt able publicly to support US President Bill Clinton throughout the bizarre and constantly unfolding tale of 1998. (It is interesting to compare Blair's support of Clinton to the way the Labour Party reacted when Conservative politicians were accused of 'sleaze' in the run up to the 1997 election.)
The Labour Party has taught us that politicians who want power are prepared to find out what people want – and to promise it, knowing that once they have the power they crave they can shimmy and shake and keep most of the voters at bay with an almost endless series of excuses and fresh promises about what is going to happen in the future.
Politicians in power do not care about their supporters; they have no self respect, no sense of honesty, no sense of shame and cannot be trusted. They will lie to get the power they need.
The supreme political qualities used to be virtue and honesty. No more.
Freedom Of Speech Suppressed
After I was prevented from travelling to Witney to speak out at the Hillgrove Farm demonstration against the Labour Party's broken promises I wrote to every Member of Parliament in Britain pointing out that even if they did not agree with my views on animal abuse they must surely be concerned about the government's refusal to allow me the basic human right to criticise them in public.
Some MPs bravely took up the cause but none got very far with it – despite their courage and determination. Most MPs didn't even try.
More worrying still was the fact that Britain's newspapers, magazines, TV stations and radio stations were virtually completely disinterested in the fact that the Labour government had successfully (and quietly) found a way to end freedom of speech in Britain.
Since coming to power the Labour Party has done nothing but break promises. (It has also spent a billion pounds on a dome to celebrate a disposable government's reign.)
Just a few decades ago politicians would give up their jobs if they made serious mistakes or were found guilty of having lied. Today's breed of professional politicians seem to regard integrity as a weakness and deceit as an essential tool. Politicians hardly ever resign.
London today is full of political hustlers playing an insiders game at our expense. London has become an enterprise zone for morally disadvantaged politicians, lobbyists and spin specialists. If the England cricket team had spinners as good as those allied to the Labour Party then England sports fans would be in heaven.
And yet the Labour government's voice has been silent on significant world issues. Britain, along with the US, Japan, France, Germany and Russia is still regarded as one of the world's big six and yet, in autumn 1998, at a time when the world desperately needed leadership, when there were crises in Russia (where the devalued rouble and economic chaos threatened worldwide economic instability) and America (where the President was threatened with impeachment) the British government contributed nothing of value.
We truly deserve something better than the politicians we have. We need something better. And the animals certainly deserve and need something better.
It is often said that the proper, democratic way to change an unjust law is to campaign, to make the subject an election issue, to help sympathetic politicians get elected and, in the end, to see the unjust law changed. We all have a duty and a responsibility to fight against laws which are unjust. But the existing democratic way no longer works. Which party can pro animal campaigners vote for today? The Labour Party said it would stop hunting (and other obscenities). But it betrayed the voters. We all have a duty to campaign against unjust laws and we have a duty to campaign for changes in society. But our present political system offers no realistic hope.
An inevitable consequence of all the broken trust between politicians and electors is the fact that most people no longer trust their government.
This is by no means a uniquely British phenomenon. It is clear that around the world voters do not trust their political representatives. A recent US poll showed that a large proportion of the American public think that their government is corrupt, secretive and conspiratorial. The poll, found that:
- a) 51% of Americans believe it likely that federal officials were directly responsible for President Kennedy's assassination.
- b) More than 33% of Americans suspect that the US Navy shot down TWA flight 800 either on purpose or by accident.
- c) Nearly 50% of Americans suspect that FBI agents deliberately started the fires that killed 81 Branch Davidians near Waco, Texas in 1993.
- d) 60% of Americans believe that the US government is withholding information about military abuses in the Vietnam and Gulf Wars.
- e) More than 50% of Americans believe it is possible that the CIA intentionally permitted Central American drug dealers to sell cocaine to inner city black children in the US.
One US State Governor commented: "When we believe that our free institutions can commonly be corrupted to dark and evil purposes it is a statement of a feeling of helplessness. We are in for some turbulent years ahead as a nation."
We Must Stick To Our Principles
A magazine recently listed a well known writer's ten pieces for advice for young people. One piece of advice was never to do anything solely as a matter of principle.
How terribly sad.
Sadly, we are all under constant pressure to betray our principles. We are constantly encouraged and rewarded for editing our honest feelings. We say things we don't really mean because we don't want to offend someone. We hide our feelings if we think they may cause embarrassment to others. We keep quiet when someone is criticising a friend because we don't want to make a fuss or cause trouble. We are tempted to do this so often that it becomes second nature. We end up denying our identity and integrity.
I believe that no one – whatever their age – should keep quiet when something is happening of which they disapprove.
Telling the truth may not do your career much good but what is a career worth if you have no professional integrity?
If we make choices and decisions based on what we believe (rather than what is convenient or popular) then we have the pleasure of living life on our terms.
If we don't speak out against people who do things that are wrong then we are as guilty as the people doing the things we know are wrong.
Breaking The Mould
The Labour Party has failed us. The Conservative Party isn't going to give us the alternative we need. The Liberal Democrats have no policies which could possibly be described as revolutionary or threatening to the establishment. The Green party is not a real threat to the existing party structure and – even more important – it is not perceived to be a threat.
The simple fact is that if we are going to right injustices and create a morally and ethically sound society we do need something new. We need a revolution.
I believe that the only answer is to create a new political party: a party which will grow so quickly that it will put pressure on existing politicians of all political parties to listen to us – a party which will grow and threaten their very existence. A party which will be based on truth and which will not shrink from telling the truth. A party which will not be afraid to attack other parties, and politicians, when it is appropriate to do so. A party whose leaders will not sit down, shake hands and have a cup of tea with Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and members of the Labour Party at the end of the day.
We have to break the mould of British politics – not be a part of it.
We need a party full of politicians who refuse to sit on fences. A party for people who have strong, ethically based convictions and who have the courage to stick by them. We need a party represented by independent, strong minded, strong principled individuals.
One of the big problems with the Labour Party (and, indeed, the Conservative and the Liberal Democrats) is that backbench MPs, who might be expected to have a good deal of control over the Party leadership, are, generally speaking, reluctant to criticise those members of their party who have the real power. Backbench MPs know that their chances of winning promotion are entirely dependent upon their toeing the Party line. The MP who speaks his mind will not last long. Any MP who might be tempted to criticise his Party leaders will risk losing his membership of the party – and losing his seat, his power and his job. Most backbenchers are so untalented that they are terrified of annoying their leaders lest they be thrown out of their party and lose their livelihood.
Politicians Have Lost Touch
The existing political establishment believes that the system is doing fine. The Labour Party think the system is fine. The Conservatives think the system is fine. The Liberal Democrats think the system is fine. The media think the system is fine.
Because they are all doing very well, thank you. They are happy with the status quo because it serves them well.
The politicians have lost touch with the voters. And those who control the media were never really in touch with the voters.
The politicians we have were put in power by citizens. But the politicians give every impression of regarding themselves as being there by right.
How can you explain or justify the Labour Party's arrogant refusal to accept the will of the people and ban hunting? The electorate made it clear that they want hunting banned. Parliament made it clear that it wants hunting banned. But, despite the pre-election promises Tony Blair's Labour government did not take the opportunity it had to ban hunting.
How arrogant can you get? Is that really all we can expect from our politicians? Is the Labour Party really as good as it gets?
Vote For Change
If you agree that our political leaders have got it right then you don't need change. But if you are dissatisfied with the present system and you want a major change then you must stand up and be counted.
If you want to live in a world where right matters then you should stand up and say so.
If you believe that justice is important then you should stand up and say so.
If you believe that our country should be led by strong men and women who follow their ideals and their principles rather than the dictates of those with money and media power then you should stand up and say so.
If you want to take back control of your destiny and your childrens destiny then you should stand up and say so.
If you want to be able to buy decent food – which has not been poisoned by mad scientists – then you should stand up and say so.
If you want to frighten the politicians – and to remind them who is really in charge – then you should stand up and say so.
Britain needs a new political party built upon a simple, single philosophy: that no creature has, or should be given, the right to cause pain or suffering to any other creature.
"First do no harm," said Hippocrates when teaching doctors. His entreaty should apply to all of us, in all our relationships with other living creatures, whether or not they are members of the same species.
A New Political Party
A new political party will at the very least threaten the comfort and complacency of the big parties.
Someone has to do something that makes them realise that the British people will not lie back and accept a string of broken promises.
Britain needs a new political party based on honesty, respect and decency rather than commercial expediency.
Is that really too much to ask? Is it really impossible to believe that the British people would vote for a party which offered to put value back into politics? A party run by and for people driven by the knowledge that they are in the right. A party for the many thousands who want clean, decent politics run by people who say what they mean and mean what they say.
If we don't do this then I fear that there will never be an end to animal abuse and the future for human beings is bleak indeed.
Britain needs a new party. Britain needs The People's Party.
You Can Make A Difference
You have probably heard it said that a butterfly flapping its wings in China can cause a hurricane in New York. (There are, of course, a number of variations on this theme). The meaning is simple: a tiny event in one area can cause massive repercussions in another area.
And this is what our success depends upon: if enough of us flap our wings then together we can change the world.
Overcoming The Forces Of Darkness
We have to make the men, women and children of Britain aware of what is going on – and what is happening in their country.
We live in a rich, allegedly developed country but our government treats the ill, the poor and the unfortunate with derision and contempt. The National Health Service, once glorious, once the envy of the world, has been more or less destroyed. The medical profession, pockets of which used to treat the Hippocratic Oath seriously, has sold out and become a marketing arm of the pharmaceutical industry. Too many doctors, nurses and other health care professionals have become a part of the selfish, uncaring society. Most social workers are a sick joke; so obsessed with incest, daily meetings and their own sense of importance that they have completely lost touch with the real world and forgotten what compassion means. Vast numbers of lawyers, school teachers and others who might have been expected to fight for freedom are now interested only in preserving their own professional status. Most religious leaders now abstain from moral authority – they have presumably been told that morality is no longer a marketable commodity.
Revolutionaries who dreamt of freedom, peace and compassion when they were twenty dream today of new triple tufted carpets, double glazing and ABS brakes. Many of today's twenty year olds have missed out the dreams of freedom, peace and compassion and gone straight to the dreams of triple tufted carpets, double glazing and ABS brakes. Some probably prefer endless shagpile carpeting to an honest, ethical and morally sound life.
Nero was accused of fiddling while Rome burned. At least he did something creative. Today's free citizen spends around five hours a day watching television and no longer believes that he can make a difference. Over my shoulder I can see the forces of darkness arraigned in suits of every shade of grey. And yet while these evil forces crowd daily closer the overpromoted talents of the television age dedicate their lives to endorsing violence and sucking people dry for cheap programming. The magic box is dominated by self important, intellectually deprived presenters with £30 haircuts and 50p brains. Salacious and hypocritical, but rarely courageous or original, they have turned a potentially powerful medium into a tool of the state. The government is safe as long as the voters are more concerned with soapland than with reality.
Millions of electors sit slumped in front of their nightly five hours of watered down, two dimensional entertainment because they are too frightened to speak up; they are convinced that they cannot make a difference. (There are people in Britain who list 'watching television' when asked to name their favourite hobby. They would attract more admiration from me if they put down 'cleaning teeth' or "emptying bladder' for these are both activities which require more intellectual input than 'watching television'.)
Those television addicts who do still feel anger, frustration, alienation and bewilderment dare not speak out for they fear for their own safety. They know that unemployment – and worse – beckons for those who stand up and speak.
Adding Action To Feeling
But we really can make a difference.
We must encourage those around us to dust off their principles, drag their dreams back out of the attic and scream and shout and let those in power know that we care.
As William Hazlitt, the great essayist, put it, the purpose of oratory (and politics) is "to build upon the habitual prejudices of mankind (for reason of itself will do nothing) and to add feeling to prejudice and action to feeling."
Today's cheap rate politicians and their advisors believe that complex issues have to be reduced into easily digestible titbits and soundbites. Political parties believe that candidates and policies have to be marketed like commercial products. In our modern, simplistic world journalists look for simple solutions, sound bites rather than philosophies.
A few decades ago Gandhi, when asked what he thought about western civilisation replied that he thought it would be a good idea. Today he would probably add the rider that it also seemed extremely unlikely. We have to change that.
Doing The Right Thing – Whatever The Cost
It is true that an honest man is always in trouble. But what alternative is there if you want to be able to look in the mirror without flinching? Standing up for what you believe isn't an option – it is an integral part of life. If you allow yourself to be cowed into silence by those who do wrong then you too become one of the guilty. Real people are prepared to do the right thing whatever the cost.
How terrible it would be to be old and still wish you were the person you wanted to be. How wonderful to grow into the person you wanted to be – and that others wish they had become when you are old.
Sometimes the things you regret the most are the things you don't do.
Many people do not allows the horrors of the world to affect them too deeply. They fear that they would go mad if they did not quickly forget and push aside these terrors.
But the wars, the localised, personalised violence and the sheer cruelty are just a part of it.
It sometimes seems as though the entire insane world has become entirely corrupt. Politicians around the world are found guilty of taking bribes but when found out they steadfastly refuse to apologise. Most people only tell if they have to.Modern politicians only tell the truth if they have to. The food industry now sells garbage which causes cancer, heart disease and other deadly diseases – and kills more people than Hitler ever did. Why are so many people silent? People who would be deeply ashamed if they had a Mafia hit man in the family will respect a tobacco company employee who, through his work, spends his life trying to kill as many people as possible – and, where death isn't possible, trying to cause as much illness and disability as he can. (The link between tobacco and illness is indisputable, so the more successful the tobacco company is, the more illness and death there will be among those who are targetted as customers.)
Our priorities have become confused. We have lost our way. Children are getting leukaemia and other cancers which could have been prevented. Doctors now do more harm than good.
People hear the messages and read the words but they don't do anything – partly because they can't cope with all the information, partly because the truth is inconvenient (if you believe that cancer is caused by specific foods then you will have to make big changes to your life) and partly because they don't think that what they hear is really going to affect them.
Cigarettes are still sold freely in corner shops, supermarkets and pubs even though they kill millions. Drunk driving continues unabated – despite the slaughter on the roads.
And most people ignore it all. After all, what can they do?
They blame the politicians. They blame industry. They blame fate.
But too many people never want to take any of the blame themselves. And they don't want to have to do anything themselves either.
They have handed over responsibility, washed their hands of the world, and let the politicians take charge.
If the politicians don't make the world a better place then it is their fault.
But, of course, nothing does get done because the politicians don't care enough. Modern politicians are, almost by definition, tough, ruthless, dispassionate and uncaring people. The only word they really understand is "compromise'.Most politicians don't go into politics because they want to make the world a better place (although that, of course, is what they say); they go into politics because its a good career. Politicians get paid extremely well. And the politicians know that they don't have to deal with the horrors of the world because they know that not enough people care – and have the courage to show that they care. Politicians promise what they think the voters want and deliver what they think they can get away with.
(A spark of comfort came from the US in late 1998 when it became clear that President Bill Clinton had alienated many of his political colleagues through his legalistic attempts to evade responsibility for his actions. Many people who were prepared to forgive Clinton for his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, and indeed for the lies he appeared to have told, were incensed by his attempts to avoid censure through what some regarded as little more than legal trickery.)
It Doesn't Have To Be Like This
Are you angry? Do you care enough, and are you brave enough, to make your voice heard – and to try and change the world?
Naturewatch (an excellent British organisation which campaigns against animal cruelty) recently conducted a major survey of British people. They found that only 0.2% of the general public felt that the Labour government's performance on animal welfare issues was "very good" while just 2% felt that it was acceptable. A massive 63% felt that the government had failed to fulfil their pre-election promises on animal welfare. A staggering 98% of the British public felt that there was a clear conflict of interest in government departments (particularly the Ministry of Agriculture) and felt that this could best be addressed by appointing a Minister for Animal Welfare. (Interestingly, when the Labour Party was in opposition they had a Shadow Minister for Animal Welfare. When they got into power, and no longer felt the need to try to win votes, the Labour government abandoned what now may seem to some to have been no more than a ruthless vote-catching exercise.)
The survey showed that only 5% of citizens who had written to the Home Office (their Home Office it has to be said) were satisfied with the reply they had received. The Home Office is the government department responsible for animal experiments.
The survey showed that only 11% of British people supported the use of animals in medical research. An impressive 98.5% complained that there was far too much secrecy involved in animal experiments. Just 8% of people felt that medical advancement would be curtailed if animal experiments were stopped whereas 89% believed that a ban on animal experiments would galvanise industry and government into taking real action to look for non animal methods of testing new drugs and other treatments and into promoting preventative medicine techniques.
So why, when so many people (including doctors – who are often wrongly thought to be supporters of vivisection) are clearly opposed to animal abuse, do our political representatives take no notice? Why do politicians no longer listen to what the electors are saying? Politicians are, after all, merely the elected representatives of the public. Their power is borrowed for the duration of their term of office.
The bottom line is (as I showed right at the beginning of this book) that our present system results in decisions being made not for the good of the electors, or even for the good of mankind as a whole, but for the short term good of powerful vested interests which have lobby groups which can push politicians into making decisions which are not in the interests of the human race at all.
We have reached a point where our world is being run for the short term financial benefit of large, international corporations and those short term interests are causing permanent damage to human beings, the environment and, in the end, to those industries themselves. Vital decisions are made solely to help ensure that next quarter the bottom line profits for a few multinational corporations draw approval from brokers, bankers and shareholders.
The truth is that it doesn't have to be like this.
Liberty, freedom and justice, equality, compassion and simple kindness have been defeated by a potent mixture of greed, prejudice, intolerance, privilege and bureaucratic interference. We have created a force over which we have no control. We have gone far beyond materialism and created a cruel and uncaring world which is like nothing that has ever existed before (indeed, nothing like it has ever been imagined or forecast); a world which regulates our lives without conscience. Industrialists, bureaucrats and politicians all mindlessly serve the monstrous, invisible force we have created.
But if we want to change things, and move towards a world without cruelty, then we need a revolution.
We need a modern, twenty first century revolution in which politics and political control are taken back by the people, for the people. We need to take power back from the industrial giants which, as I showed at the beginning of this book, control our politicians and our lives. There is an urgency about all this: if we don't take action quickly then soon it will be too late.
We need a People's Party to overcome ignorance, prejudice and cruelty and to bring honesty, morality, ethics and a genuine sense of caring back into government. We need to ensure that children are taught to honour and respect all other living creatures. We need to create a social environment in which cruelty is unacceptable and unjustifiable and in which the vivisector, the hunter, the butcher and the abattoir worker cannot stand unaccused.
Together we can do it: we can make a difference; we can change the world.
We have to believe that.
If we don't believe then there is no future.