Ukip in apparent backtrack over shechita ban


Ukip leaders are now backtracking over the party’s decision to ban non-stun religious slaughter and appear to be engaged in a partial reversal of their previous reversal of policy.

In the latest UKIP statement, Paul Nuttall, an MEP and the Ukip deputy leader, says that he was “surprised” when the party’s National Executive Committee agreed to the ban earlier this week.

But although he distances the party leadership from the policy change, he also argues that shechita would remain legal because of the high standards used: “(If) shechita does not cause any undue suffering for the animal then it would fall within the requirements that UKIP has in mind.”

The implication behind Mr Nuttall’s words is that while shechita would be legal, halal would fall foul of the new policy.

Writing exclusively in the JC, Mr Nuttall says that he, party leader Nigel Farage and agriculture spokesman Stuart Agnew, are all on record as supporting the right of Jews to continue practising shechita.

He added that he was willing to seek advice from the Board of Deputies, as well as Muslim organisations, in a consultation on religious slaughter.

Mr Nuttall’s full statement

As a Ukip Member of the European Parliament I have become used to being criticised by both right and left of British politics for my support of the Jewish community over the years - particularly over Shechita meat. I was therefore surprised that the UKIP National Executive Committee decision proposed a ban on such meat.

Nigel Farage, Stuart Agnew (Ukip's Agriculture Spokesman and MEP for the Eastern Counties) and I are all on record saying that we support the right of the Jewish community to continue with the Shechita method of slaughter. Ukip has at its heart respect for religious belief and respect for animal welfare. We know that Jewish religious slaughter is done with the highest standards in mind.

In fact our record in the European Parliament on this very issue has in the past received praise for being both favourable and consistent. Nigel Farage and Stuart Agnew have also had a number of positive meetings with Shechita UK; Stuart particularly has worked closely with their Director, Shimon Cohen to further our understanding of what Shechita involves.

However, on Monday the Ukip National Executive Committee voted in favour of banning animal slaughter without pre-stunning. A majority of NEC members believed that this was the right thing to do in the interests of animal welfare.

Since releasing the policy we have been approached by leading figures within the Muslim and Jewish communities who have asked us to discuss this policy further with them.

The debate hinges around whether shechita is a method of slaughter that sufficiently stuns the animal to national animal welfare requirements. Shechita UK (JC, Shimon Cohen, 17/09/2010) said "We believe shechita does stun. It renders the animal insensible to pain within two seconds. The idea that we brutalise animals... is ridiculous and needs to be exposed as such".

Shechita is very prescriptive and therefore standards are highly consistent, including for example crucial detail such as the sharpness of the knife. I am not an expert. However if this is the case and shechita does not cause any undue suffering for the animal then it would fall within the requirements that UKIP has in mind.

As a party that fundamentally believes in tolerance and we are more than willing to open consultation with both animal welfare and veterinarian organisations as well as seek advice from bodies such as the Muslim Council of Britain and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

As a party we want to continue to ensure that relationships between us, faith communities and the wider public are fully informed and strong.

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