VEGAN Kerry McCarthy has tonight been put in charge of farming and agriculture policy in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet.
The former party whip is the first shadow secretary for environment, food and rural affairs to reject eating or using any animal products, including dairy and leather goods.
Among the issues the Bristol East MP, who is a patron of the Vegan Society and vice-president of the League Against Cruel Sports, has campaigned on during her ten year parliamentary career are food waste, the “overuse” of antibiotics in farming and ending the badger cull.
The former lawyer, who was the first vegan MP, has also previously warned about the impact flatulent cows have on the environment, claiming the gas they emit, with the production of their feed, accounts for around one fifth of greenhouse gases.
Ms McCarthy said her new role was wide-ranging and insisted she had a long-history of working on environmental and agricultural issues.
She added: “My personal views are my personal views but in terms of Labour party policy, promoting animal welfare is something we have always done and promoting sustainable farming. I’m personally happy working with farmers.”
Rural lobbying group Countryside Alliance greeted the appointment with scepticism.
Chief Executive Tim Bonner said: “We look forward to hearing how Ms McCarthy, who is patron of the Vegan society which believes ‘animal farming is no longer sustainable and severely damaging to the environment’ and is ‘against all shooting sports’ intends to re-engage the Labour Party with the rural community.”
Ms McCarthy is not the first non-meat eater to hold the brief for Labour, following in the footsteps of vegetarian Hilary Benn who had the role in government from 2007 until Labour’s defeat in 2010.