While Jewish campaigners have felt anxious about threats to religious slaughter for years, they have remained assured by politicians’ pledges to defend the practice.
Concern will now mount, however, that British Veterinary Association president-elect John Blackwell’s remarks have made shechita a talking point 14 months before a general election.
Tory MP Andrew Rosindell’s suggestion that Jewish and Muslim slaughter methods were “disrespectful” to Britain put him in opposition to his party leader. The Prime Minister has regularly pledged to defend religious freedoms.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also faces a backlash from Liberal Democrats who are annoyed by his pledge to protect “diversity” when it comes to food, despite his previous suggestions (related to sharia law) that it is wrong to have different laws for different people.
The government will receive the results of a European Commission study on more detailed labelling of meat later this year and may decide to act. Remember, though, the provision of halal food outstrips kosher consumption many times over. No politician will enter election year with a policy that alienates millions of Muslim voters.