Now, I think there are many instances where you might want to accuse me of ignorance on this post. The first is that, until I saw the news of a vote for the ban a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t know we still had animals in circuses in the UK. Call me ignorant, but I have never been to a circus (and never really felt any kind of inclination to do – I think this has something to do with Walt Disney’s Dumbo) so I had assumed that we lived in a civilised nation who had banned things like that aeons ago. Evidently, I was more than slightly wrong.
So, I signed the petition on the Independent, and I wrote a personalised email to my MP (Oliver Letwin – who is also on the cabinet don’t y’ know) saying I hoped he would see the sense in stopping this cruel practise – and that I thought we had long since moved past the point where we thought keeping animals in cages, and using them for our own amusement, was in any way acceptable. I have yet to get a reply, and to be honest, on this matter, I don’t really expect one.
The news on Friday morning was that MPs had voted AGAINST the government on this issue and had supported a ban, and that, initially, the Tories had ordered a three line whip against the vote – instructing all their MPs not to vote in favour of the ban. Conservative MP Mark Pritchard (who brought the ban) spoke up for his cause – and told the house that he had been tempted, by number 10, with both carrot and stick, to drop the bill. ‘I have a backbone’ he argued, as he stood up for his morals. And good on him too, because although the government are not now bound to this ban, it could certainly cause them a bit of trouble if they didn’t.
Again, call me ignorant, but I was surprised by almost every point in these proceedings – from finding out we still had animals in circuses in the first place, to the government trying to make the ban go away. But I am heartened by the number of people who tried to support the ban in some way (one website claimed this vote had supported the views of 94% of the MPs constituents, where they got this figure from God only knows – but its a good one) and I think this only goes to back my initial feelings on the matter – that we do live in a country where you would expect practices like this to be illegal. Sadly though, expectation has yet to become law.