Labour Peddle More Animal Sentience Fake News

Labour are clearly taking fake news lessons from the Indy’s infamous viral story about the Tories and animal sentience. Their response to Michael Gove’s new Animal Welfare Bill this morning claims it is not “equivalent to current EU standards” and “does not appear to cover wild animals – giving this Tory Government freedom to pursue their pro-fox hunting agenda across England”. This is unmitigated BS from shadow Defra spokesman Sue Hayman…

First, Gove’s bill objectively goes further than the existing EU standards on animal sentience. The EU legislation only recognises animal sentience in EU-related policy in six areas – agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies. The new Defra bill applies to all domestic policy, not simply repatriated EU policy, in all areas, not merely the six covered by the EU. By any fair reading, the new bill goes significantly further than current EU standards…

As for Hayman’s claim that the sentience measure does not cover wild animals, this is literally fake news – it does. The fox hunting jibe is also rubbish, the hunting ban ain’t going to be repealed. Labour saw how mega-viral the Indy fake news story went, Sue Hayman’s response today is another cynical attempt to spread post-truth nonsense…

And a special mention for the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, who says there is “no need to leave the EU” to secure higher animal welfare standards. Actually we do have to leave the EU to ban live animal exports and products that don’t meet our welfare standards. Jonathan is big on calling out fake news and post-truth politics so sure he will want to correct his tweet…

Celebs Admit They Got It Wrong on Animal Sentience

It’s taken a while, but Guido is pleased to report that Ben Fogle, Sue Perkins, Debroah Meaden and Rachel Riley have all either retracted, deleted or apologised for their tweets, or clarified that they now support the government’s entirely sensible position on animal sentience. Tough 24 hours for celebs on Twitter. Still, at least they’re not Olly Murs… 

Indy Retracts Animal Sentience Story

The Independent has retracted its story claiming that “the Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain” and admitted that it circulated false information to potentially millions of people. In a clarification published last night, the Indy says its report “was not right”:

“Put simply, what happened is this: MPs did not vote that animals are not sentient creatures…

Campaigners – and some news coverage – initially said that the Government had voted against recognising sentience. The Independent was among publishers that reported the story in that way. But it became clear that this claim was not right, even though it had been interpreted by some campaigners in that way. (The Independent updated its coverage to ensure it was accurate).”

The original Indy story was shared thousands of times and was a key factor in half a million people signing a petition repeating the claim. Stories about the Tories and animal sentience were viewed by 2 million people this week. Doubt the Indy’s retraction will be seen by a tenth of that.

Ben Fogle Sorry For Sharing Animal Sentience Fake News Story

Fair play to Ben Fogle, who tells Guido “I am happy to apologise and add clarity” after he tweeted the viral fake news story on animal sentience to his 336,000 followers. Sue Perkins, Rachel Riley, Caroline Lucas and the RSPCA have been less willing to admit they were wrong…

Viral Animal Sentience Fake News Story Seen By 2 Million People

This week a number of stories claiming the Tories had voted that animals are not sentient beings went mega-viral. An article on the Independent website – shared thousands of times on social media – reported “The Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain”. The Evening Standard claimed they “just voted that animals cannot feel pain or emotions”. The Indy, which has truly become one of the most downmarket trash clickbait websites around, even named and shamed the Tory MPs “who voted legislation on animals feeling pain and emotion”. These attacks were tweeted out by celebrities like Ben Fogle and Sue Perkins, politicians including Caroline Lucas and failed LibDem MP Sarah Olney, and petitions were signed by hundreds of thousands of unwitting animal lovers. The stats are huge:

  • Analysis shows 2 million people have seen articles and tweets about the Tories voting against animal sentience
  • 155,157 signed a Change.org petition repeating the claim
  • 263,476 signed another petition on 38 Degrees
  • 43,081 signed a third petition on ThePetitionSite
  • Nearly 30,000 have signed smaller petitions (that’s almost 500,000 overall)
  • Sue Perkins shared it with her 1 million followers
  • Rachel Riley shared it with her 510,000 followers
  • Ben Fogle shared it with his 336,000 followers
  • Caroline Lucas shared it with her 276,000 followers
  • The RSPCA tweeted it out to their 248,000 followers

Just one problem. It is fake news…

During last Wednesday’s debate, Tory MPs repeatedly explained that the government already recognised animal sentience and that the amendment was flawed. Read it here in Hansard – Tory MP after Tory MP stood up and agreed that animals are sentient. No MPs argued against animal sentience. It is just not true to say, as the Indy did, that “The Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain”. Anyone who has seen the Environment Secretary with his Bichon Frise Snowy, or indeed the hedgehog above, knows these viral articles are fake news. This made up story, circulated by the Tories’ opponents for solely cynical reasons, is cutting through to animal lovers who think they can trust things they believe on the Independent website. This morning Michael Gove categorically committed the government to animal sentience once and for all. He couldn’t be clearer:

“This government will ensure that any necessary changes required to UK law are made in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is recognised after we leave the EU.”

Will that go as viral as the fake news BS that hoodwinked thousands in the last week?



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