THEY HAVE 'GOT SMART'
The campaign waged against Huntingdon Life Sciences, Europe's largest
vivisection laboratory, has shown the increasingly sophisticated tactics
of the animal rights movement.
The Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (Shac) campaign has focused on the
suppliers. So far this year 80 companies have severed ties with
Huntingdon because of pressure from animal rights campaigners and fear
of bad publicity.
Greg Avery of the Shac campaign has found that many of the biggest
companies can be persuaded very quickly and not because they care about
"Businessmen don't care about ethics; all they care about is profit.
They don't make ethical decisions; they make financial ones. So we turn
it into a financial decision - we will hit you where it hurts and that's
hitting you in the pocket."
THEY HAVE BECOME RELENTLESS
The key lesson that the animal rights movement has learnt is being
relentless. Campaigners used to focus on a variety of local targets
across Britain. But starting with the Consort kennels campaign, the
movement has concentrated its fire on one national target.
Campaigner Greg Avery was involved with the Consort campaign and says:
"We grabbed hold of those kennels and didn't let go. You don't pick a
company unless you can close it down because otherwise you just make
those companies stronger. So when they are chosen - they are finished."
THEY BELIEVE INTIMIDATION WORKS
For all of the sophistication of the movement they are well aware that
if arguments and legal pressure fail there is always illegal
intimidation. The Shac campaign says it is against all such tactics but
some nasty things have happened to companies it has named and shamed on
For instance, on 10 September 2004 fake bombs were planted under the
cars of two directors of Northgate, a supplier to Huntingdon. Later that
day, Northgate announced that it had terminated its business
relationship with Huntingdon Life Sciences.
Companies connected to Huntingdon have this month alone been the subject
of attacks, including damage to cars, homes being daubed with paint, and
windows being smashed. One family which breeds animals for research has
suffered a consistent campaign of harassment.
Shac has denied any involvement in these incidents and while these
tactics are widely condemned, they nevertheless are successful in
persuading companies to accede to the campaigners' demands.
The Home Office has funded a National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination
Unit within the Association of Chief Police Officers, which aims to
share information across the country about the best ways of tackling
New laws to stop extremists protesting outside people's houses are also
THEY HAVE 'GONE GLOBAL'
The British animal rights movement is the largest and the strongest in
the world. Activists across the globe now look to the UK to learn how to
campaign more effectively.
Patti Strand of the American Lobby group the National Animal Alliance
believes the British have a lot to answer for.
"We view the United Kingdom as the Afghanistan for the growth of animal
rights extremism throughout the world. The animal rights movement that
we are dealing with in the United States is a direct import from the
THEY HAVE PLANNED FOR THE FUTURE
Such is the confidence of the animal rights movement that they are
already thinking about the future. Greg Avery of Shac has new targets in
We have to have some policy of reducing the human population so that
would mean we would have to breed less
Animal Liberation Front
"When Huntingdon closes we won't just go on to another company. We will
go on to a whole area of animal abuse. And look to knock out big chunks
- puppy farming, factory farming, circuses and zoos. All these could be
finished. We're becoming bigger, even more intelligent and even more
determined not just to take companies down but to finish whole areas of
Revered thinkers within the movement like Ronnie Lee, founder of the
Animal Liberation Front, want to go much further than closing down zoos
"To create a world that is fair to the other creatures on it we have to
have some policy of reducing the human population so that would mean we
would have to breed less."
How much less? Lee says a reduction in the British population from the
current level of 60 million to just 6 million would be better for the
animals. Lee is serious enough about reducing the population to have had
His views aren't ones you'll hear at the stalls campaigning against
animal cruelty all over Britain but what's clear is that animal rights
activists won't be content with shutting down fur farms or animal
Buoyed by their success they want nothing less than to change the world.
By Simon Cox and Richard Vadon
BBC Radio 4
Battle for Influence: Animal Rights is broadcast on Radio 4 on Thursday
18 November at 2000 GMT.
Story from BBC NEWS:
British groups have worked abroad
Most campaigning is within the law
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