The anti-vivisection bullies are on the march again, with a cleverly orchestrated campaign to wipe out medical research using animals in the UK.
The last major push by animal ‘rights’ activists in the mid-2000s relied on terror and blackmail, targeted at medical researchers and their families.
This time, the activists are using more subtle PR-friendly tactics, mobilising a letter-writing campaign aimed at transport companies. Depressingly, this seems to be working: according to the BBC, all ferry companies and all but two airlines have stopped importing animals destined for research laboratories.
I am proud to have been part of the fight-back against the anti-vivisection bullies. In 2006 I started an online campaign – the People’s Petition – to give a voice to people who supported British medical researchers and the critical work they do.
Together, with the Pro-Test movement at Oxford University, the People’s Petition marshalled public and political opinion in support of science. And we won support from all corners: not many campaigns unite the Telegraph, the Times, the Sun and Polly Toynbee. In the face of this determined and broad coalition, the anti-research activists backed down.
We were successful because we stood up to the bullies: we showed this “tiny group of extremists” (Tony Blair) that we were not prepared to let them win.
The transport operators who have caved in to the latest wave of anti-vivisection activism need to show the same resolve. They will find the public supports them.