Ms Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, SNP MP, kindly met with Network for Animals’ Kirsten Anderson and Paul Herring this Friday 19 June, to discuss the repeal of the Hunting Act, which David Cameron is attempting to cancel in the House of Commons.
To date, 9285 of our supporters have already signed our petition to Angus Robertson, SNP MP, asking his party to vote with their consciences when the time comes. We discussed this with Ms Ahmed-Sheikh, and also described how deeply the people in both Scotland and beyond are relying on her party to stand up to Mr Cameron and help save our wildlife from unnecessary suffering and death.
Ms Ahmed-Sheikh confirmed what we already knew about the SNP: they are a party very strongly committed to animal welfare, but simultaneously standing up to a very difficult situation in parliament. Ms Ahmed Sheikh stated that though she would like to have the opportunity to vote on the Hunting Act, as things stand at present, the SNP is unsure whether they will have the option to. David Cameron is trying to bring in ‘English Votes for English Laws’ (EVEL) though amendments to parliamentary rules known as standing orders, which circumvent the usual parliamentary debate and scrutiny that new legislation usually requires. This could spell disaster for the fight against the Hunting Act.
Ms Ahmed-Sheikh also explained that the SNP wish to see the new hunting legislation which Cameron proposes before making a final decision on their vote. This is something that has been echoed by other members of the SNP, such as Callum Kerr and Alan Brown, when questioned by Network for Animals and their supporters. We put to Ms Ahmed-Sheikh that it is clear any legislation which Cameron proposes will be to the detriment of our wildlife, since he is very much pro-hunting. As such it may be difficult for many people to understand why the SNP won’t make an outright ‘no to repeal’ statement. As an ex-lawyer, she was quick to explain that it is never wise to comment on legislation until it has been finalised, otherwise it is mere conjecture.
So what can we do to help the SNP, allowing them in turn to help win the fight against David Cameron and his plans to repeal the Hunting Act?
Firstly, we can continue to spread the petition to Angus Robertson far and wide, to show how much we need the SNP’s support and value their potential contribution.
Secondly, we and our supporters can continue to visit our local MPs around the UK and let them know how important the Hunting Act 2004 is to us, and how this issue of repeal feeds into a much larger issue of a political system in dire need of attention.
Thirdly, given that the SNP don’t want to take a stance until they know what the new Hunting legislation will be, let’s lobby David Cameron and demand that he tells us what his plans are. The sooner we find out, the sooner the SNP can make a decision and fight for the right to have a vote when the time comes. By emailing him and tweeting him in our thousands, we will help prevent him getting away with this underhand behaviour. We owe it to the animals whose lives he is threatening to destroy.