Why a PM should be so politically obtuse as to put himself of the wrong side of animal cruelty is completely incomprehensible, and all the Tory MPs knew it, falling over themselves to support Pritchard. A lot of RSPCA-member old ladies vote Tory, and there's nothing more dangerous to a Tory MP than an avalanche of lavender-scented letters threatening to withdraw their votes. The Lib Dems, to their credit, were all in favour of the ban - for a reason which was all too clear to Labour's Nick Dakin:
I am particularly pleased to see a good turnout of Lib Dems for this debate. I suspect that they feel a certain empathy with circus animals, as an endangered species being kept against their will for the entertainment of others.
I say all the Tory MPs, but it's not quite true: the toadies and loonies were out in force. Neofascist bruiser Andrew Rosindell blustered about animal rights' activist conspiracies, and our old friend Mr Paul Uppal loyally and slavishly did what he was told by the Prime Minister: and got royally slapped down by a Labour MP for his pains.
Those are fine words, but will the hon. Gentleman explain to the House why the Labour party did not do something about the issue when it was in power?
Gavin Shuker (Luton South, Labour)
I appreciate the opportunity to say what we did when in government. We banned animal testing for cosmetics. We banned the process of battery farm eggs. We created new powers to stop animal cruelty. We banned tail docking. We stopped the trade in seals. We ended fur farming, and we passed the hunt ban. I am proud to stand on that record as a Labour Member of Parliament. We introduced the 2006 Act that allows the Minister to ban the practice of wild animals performing in circuses, and that is exactly what we are calling for today.