Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Single issue parties

Another little something I knocked up in that idle part of Sunday evening between The Westminster Hour finishing and The Ashes (don't get me started) coverage beginning... couldn't get anyone to take it on Monday morning and before you could say 'news angle' the news angle had passed...


Gil, the Israeli pensioners party, shocked everyone when it won seven seats in the Knesset earlier this year. In Canada, the Bloc Québécois was formed solely to argue for Quebecois independence, and has acquired more than 10% of the vote in the five elections since its birth. The Referendum Party, meanwhile, disappeared in ignominy, and there still hasn’t been a referendum almost a decade later.

Now a new party is hoping to realign the British political landscape with their own audaciously parochial agenda: they are Animals Count, and the clue is rather cleverly embedded in their name. They want to “establish a voice for the animals through a dedicated political party, which focuses on respect and compassion for all living beings”.

Launching last Sunday (Dec 3), Animals Count marked the occasion with an event at Kensington Town Hall, and Jasmijn de Boo paid a visit to BBC Five Live to explain her cause. Challenged over whether a single issue party would ever be able to get a significant foothold in British politics, de Boo pointed to the increasingly successful Green Party, whose External Communications Co-ordinator Jim Killock was also in the studio.

“We are not a single issue party” Killock objected. “That’s like saying the Labour Party started off as a single issue party with the issue of workers rights and social justice.” The Green Party has demonstrated how central tenets can be broadened to a more holistic political philosophy: few would contest that ‘green’ issues are ones also pertaining to health, education and the economy. It is difficult to see how Animals Count might achieve a similarly wide-lens focus. What could their Defence Spokesperson possibly have to say about the invasion of Iraq? ‘Please try not to bomb any porcupines’?

It is tempting to toy with the idea of a Private Members Bill about pelicans (think about it), fishcal policy, Pre-Budgie Reports, the European Common Meerkat, or even the jettisoning of Claws Four at the party’s Con-fur-ence. But that would be unfair. And it is understandable that Animals Count want to reinvigorate the animal rights movement in a nation of animal lovers, where, let us not forget, the RSPCA supposedly raises more money than the NSPCC. In the wake of some devastating publicity caused by transgressions by animal rights extremists, a high-profile push for political credibility would at least tip media coverage back in the right direction.

In purely electoral terms however, Animals Count seem to have made a miscalculation. Israel’s Pensioners Party obtained their position in the Knesset with the backing of thousands of pensioners at the ballot box: until Fido and Tibbles get the vote in the UK, it is difficult to see their political advocates gracing the House of Commons.

Or so I had thought. In the Dutch general election two weeks ago (Nov 22) a four-year-old political party made a major breakthrough, gaining the first two seats in its history. Its name? Partij voor de Dieren, The Party for the Animals.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice punning.

I think there is a party in Holland dedicated to legalising sex with children - launched summer last year

11:00 AM  
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