SNP members should be given their right to voice an opinion on tail docking

Written by Cllr Chris McEleny on 6 October 2017 in Comment

Cllr Christopher McEleny on why SNP conference should debate the party's stance on tail docking

Working spaniel - image credit: Jamie Montgomery

The following comments are from Cllr Christopher McEleny, SNP grassroots activist who has led calls for SNP members to oppose tail docking in Scotland. The comments are after the decision was made not to allow SNP members vote on whether or not to debate tail docking at the party conference.

SNP members are the heartbeat of our party. It is the countless hours our members put into campaigning and the highlighting of the many positive measures our Scottish Government have introduced that our continued success is built on. As the political party of the independence movement, to many, we are naturally a leading voice in that movement.

Many people have said – regarding tail docking – ‘why now?’ or ‘why is debating this important?’ The answer is simple. It should be for SNP members to set the political direction of our party and for our SNP elected representatives to follow that direction.


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Some people might not agree with me that tail docking should be banned in Scotland. Others may like me, the countless SNP branches and numerous animal rights charities in Scotland that it is an outdated and cruel practice. Others may even agree with me that perhaps we are looking at the issue of tail docking from the wrong perspective.

If ‘working’ dogs are being injured participating in the blood sport of hunting and killing other animals, perhaps it isn’t the size of the dog’s tail that is the issue but the fact that in modern Scotland we still think it’s ok to kill animals for sport.

I am not demanding that SNP members support calls for us to have a policy that urges the Scottish Parliament to rethink its opinion on tail docking, I am calling for SNP members to be given their right to voice an opinion. So we won’t be getting the opportunity to voice that opinion by voting to debate the issue of tail docking on Sunday, but we do still have the opportunity to debate it on Monday or Tuesday.

By adding your support to this issue we have a better chance of achieving that.

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the comfort of thought. That is exactly why it is important that we debate this issue, so that our party membership’s collective will determines what our opinions are. 

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