From the first outing of the Hunt Sabs on Boxing Day 1963 and the beginnings of Animal Aid on Jean Pink’s kitchen table in 1977, the UK Animal Rights Movement entered the 1980’s with an active network of over 200 grass roots local Animal Rights Groups.
This network was ready to put Animal Rights on the streets with the 1992 campaign against Boots the Vivisectors, the cancellation of the Grand National in 1993, the live exports campaign (which led to the tragic killing of Jill Phipps in 1995) and pickets of half the UK’s McDonald’s at the end of the McLibel trial in 1997.
These campaigns were a testing ground for campaigners tactics and tenacity, resisting the same state and corporate security, and hence crossing over to the growing resistance to road building and GM crops, Reclaim the Streets actions and so on, further united by the campaign against the ‘Criminal Justice Bill‘, which targeted anti-road protesters, Animal Rights activists, Trade Unionists, football supporters, ravers, ramblers, squatters, & others.
Despite widespread infiltration by Spycops, we entered the internet age ready to inspire new generations with many compassionate people from 6 to 96 using the power of social media to mobilise. New campaigns bring down the walls of slaughterhouses and livestock farming with virtual reality (Animal Equality), by bearing witness (the ‘Save’ movement) and by bringing about half a million vegans (Viva!, Vegan Society, Animal Aid, Veggies Catering Campaign, Veganuary & more). Animals in Circuses have been mostly confined to history (CAPS etc), fur is widely condemned and hunting with hounds is technically illegal.
However where profit and sick kicks prevail we must be ever vigilant. 50 years on the Hunt Sabs are holding back the madness of the badger cull and still facing intimidation from those flouting the Hunt ban. Despite many major victories against animal ‘research’ labs and their suppliers, more animals than ever suffer due to GM research & other new tech. There are so many ways in which animals, other people and the planet itself is under threat, but these evils are being resisted by coalitions of the powerful – us, now, working together in a spirit of mutual respect and cross movement support.