Opinion: The Rubber Chicken Circuit and Lib Dem policy on factory farming

The ubiquity of overcooked, tasteless chicken served at political fundraising events is such that it has warranted the invention of a phrase that must surely strike fear into the hearts of even our most sociable Elected Members: The Rubber Chicken Circuit.

It was probably inevitable that chicken would become the meat of choice to serve at such events because of its almost universal popularity and the fact that it is now one of the cheapest meats available. But I always wonder how this has become the case at Liberal Democrat events, given that we are the only party to recognise (and have policies to deal with) the ethical problems related to factory farming (see, eg, here).

I’m sure many of you will have seen the TV programmes and newspaper reports that have highlighted the problems in the factory farming industry. Just to give those who haven’t a brief insight, intensively farmed chickens are packed in to huge windowless sheds at the rate of 17 per square metre, meaning there is less than the size of an A4 sheet of paper’s worth of space per bird. There are numerous welfare implications associated with the intensiveness of chicken farming and I’d recommend the website of the excellent Compassion In World Farming for more information.

Given the notorious tedium of chicken, the welfare implications attached to the production of such cheap meat, and the long-standing Liberal Democrat commitment to bring about change on this issue, perhaps you could consider another dish at your next event. This might sound somewhat trivial given the many problems in the world, but hypocrisy on our part is not going help us bring about solutions to anything.

Rubber beef anyone?

Nick Thornsby is a Liberal Democrat activist in Heywood and Middleton.

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  • I’d view this as the perfect excuse to introduce people to vegetarian dishes 🙂

    Almost all my mates eat meat, though my dad has actually become vegetarian since discovering you can eat well with such a diet. But even rampant carnivores can enjoy a vegetarian meal every now & then.

    If chicken it is, & eggs, the best option is organic. I am not insistent on eating organic & will often not bother when it comes to vegetables, bread etc such as are locally grown & produced. But the standards for organic are much higher in livestock farming than free range, which means very little indeed.

    You will know that I am no supporter of statism, but I think it’s about time not only to raise standards but also to outlaw the greenwashing under which manufacturers are allowed to make claims which are often totally meaningless in law & in fact.

    You can also get decent wines grown & bottled in this country & have a right good knees-up.

    Those having meetings could engage in a mutually beneficial agreement with local farmers, suppliers & what have you. The middle man can take a running jump as there is no need for him to take any of our money or owt along those lines.

    Not a bad post at all. Though I myself do not attend these sophisticated, gentlemanly dinners.

  • You can find what the local delicacies are. Think of all that honest Lancashire fayre, whatever it is 🙂

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