The power and influence of the Countryside Alliance extends far and wide through society, even as far as new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been forced to publicly announce that Labour has no plans to introduce a campaign (along the lines of anti-smoking campaigns) to encourage people to eat less meat, or even, heaven forefend, become vegetarian. This is despite Corbyn being a long time vegetarian himself.
Now let’s put this into perspective: Corbyn believes in many things that are clearly at odds with the British public’s views: he believes in unilateral disarmament – this has led to calls for a military coup from a top Army general. Corbyn has stuck by his guns.
But he has felt an obligation to make this announcement in relation to meat eating.
It is difficult not to see the Countryside Alliance behind this. CEO Tim Bonner said, when asked by the Mail, “her views are verging on the cranky” and he hashtagged cranky in a follow up tweet. This has been picked up and churned around the media in the way these things are – eventually someone said to Corbyn – “you have to say something”. Bonner will be smiling.
What actually happened was that McCarthy gave an interview earl in 2015, possible even late 2014, with vegan magazine Viva!, long before she joined the shadow cabinet. McCarthy is a long standing vegan, it’s a vegan magazine. It’s hardly surprising that McCarthy would say things to them about meat eating. Vegans believe meat eating is wrong, McCarthy suggested one way of encouraging people to eat less or give up meat, would be a public information campaign similar to anti-smoking campaigns.
What is not reported elsewhere is that the next sentence said
“Sadly, I don’t anticipate that being in anyone’s manifesto at the election.”
who might have pointed the Mail in the direction of the piece in Viva!? and who would then be on hand to give a quote, putting the (hand-tooled leather riding) boot in.
Calling a vegan “cranky” is obviously an ok thing to do in the world of the Countryside Alliance. It harks back to the days (starting in the 19th century) when vegetarians were called cranks – and this led to the creation of a famous vegetarian restaurant chain, self-parodically called Cranks. I imagine Ms McCarthy has been called far worse, indeed you only have to look at the social media activity of the pro-bloodsports movement to see it.
Expect to see far more of these bullying attacks on Ms McCarthy from the Countryside Alliance and their fellow travellers. But also consider why they should feel the need to do so – they are worried. McCarthy represents an existential threat to them and what they see as their birthright.
photo: “Papierosa 1 ubt 0069” by © 2005 by Tomasz Sienicki [user: tsca, mail: tomasz.sienicki at gmail.com] – Photograph by Tomasz Sienicki / Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Papierosa_1_ubt_0069.jpeg#/media/File:Papierosa_1_ubt_0069.jpeg