Saturday, March 27, 2010

RSPCA - Debate Report

Our second debate this week on the topic of animal welfare and organised by Mike from the RSPCA. This was a subject I knew very little about and much homework was necessary – hence the main benefit of the debate is that I know a lot more about animal welfare than I did previously. And, as I said in the discussion, I receive more emails from people on this topic than on any other subject.

There were about 25 people in the audience in the Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne but all participated well and the flow was better and longer than last week’s debate. Wisely, Gordon told his agent to stay at home.

The questions covered a whole range of topics. We talked about fish, greyhounds, horse racing, performing animals, birds, dangerous dogs, food labelling, live exports, hunting, Europe, wind farms(!) and Boris’s Thames airport among others. To my surprise, animal testing didn’t come up – so I slipped it in myself as I had a point to make there.

I felt I started badly but did better as we went on. I was rather quiet as this is not a strong topic of mine but got through unscathed. My main triumph was scoring a point when I pointed out to Gordon that David Cameron plans to hold a free vote on repealing the Hunting Act and not amending it as Gordon maintained.

Despite this, Gordon dominated the evening and I thought did well again despite the fact that I disagreed with most of what he said. He came across confident and used his knowledge of the agricultural field.

Angela performed much better than last week making good points in a quiet way. The Labour government has a reasonable record on this topic via the Hunting Act and the Animal Welfare Act so she was on safer ground.

UKIP had planted a couple of questions on fish and wind farms. Oddly Ian’s prepared answers didn’t come across well. On other questions he spoke more naturally and from the heart and thus was much more impressive. There’s a lesson for us all there.

I didn’t plant a question. This was demonstrated when a fellow Lib Dem asked a question on bird protection from development in Sheppey which I didn’t have a clue how to answer.

Overall, another enjoyable evening but much more hard work than last week. I guess these skills develop with practice.

Next debate is on 13 April on the environment but this time in Faversham next door so I will be up against some different faces.

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