UKIPs Agriculture Spokesman has admitted the party have “lost the Jewish vote for sure” because of its new policy on meat production, which make some Kosher meat illegal. The new policy, announced yesterday, would see a ban on non-stunned animals being killed for meat.
It is believed the move was in response to widespread concerns about the amount of unlabelled Halal food being served to people who object to the practise. But a large percentage of Halal meat does use pre-stunning whereas this is not the case with Kosher killing, known as shechita.
This led the party’s Stuart Agnew MEP to tell the Jewish Chronicle: “This isn’t aimed at you – it’s aimed elsewhere – it’s aimed at others. You’ve been caught in the crossfire; collateral damage. You know what I mean.”
He also explained that he personally did not agree with the new policy. He said: “We are a democratic party and I couldn’t get enough support. They didn’t like my tolerance of non-stunning. They have decided to override me on this occasion. I’m not going to say they were wrong.”
Despite concerns amongst the Jewish community UKIP have adopted a policy that is supported by animal welfare groups such as the RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association. Both believe the practise of cutting animals throats whilst they are fully conscious is cruel and unnecessary given the modern methods of stunning available.
Although the Food Standards Agency say 2.4m animals are killed without being stunned in abattoirs every year, only one percent of these are Kosher kills. The rest are all Halal, despite the question marks over whether Islam really demands the method be used.
Agnew said he believed that the policy was put forward to win votes in May’s general election. He said: “There are more votes to be gained, and I expect that’s what they were looking for. We’ll have lost the Jewish vote for sure, they won’t support us now for sure – we won’t get any now.
“But we might gain votes elsewhere – and that’s what they’re after, general election votes.”
British voters have been shocked by a number of recent scandals in which restaurants like Pizza Express have been exposed for selling Halal food to Christian customers. Also a large number of school, hospitals and prisons have admitted they serve Halal food to their unsuspecting diners. There have been no recorded cases of Kosher meat being served to customers without their knowledge.
This has led to a major backlash and demands to either properly label food, or to ban non-stunned meat altogether.