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Pop star Will Young might be known for his singing voice. But now he’s putting it to other uses: speaking up about the state of UK politics.
In an exclusive interview with Byline Times, Young takes chunks out of the Conservative Government, highlighting their poor record in animal welfare as well as their handling of COVID-19.
The singer is launching a new campaign to ban testing on animals in the UK, called the Coalition to Stop Animal Testing, we can reveal.
Though testing animals for cosmetics is illegal in the UK, it is legal for medical products and medicines. Young has been speaking to politicians in recent months to rally support for a ban on animal testing for medical products and medicines too.
In 2022, more than 2.76 million procedures were carried out on animals in British laboratories – a reduction of 10% in comparison to the previous year.
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However, millions of other animals will have also been bred and then discarded as “surplus” because they weren’t of the desired sex or lacked certain disease characteristics, according to animal rights group PETA. The government no longer considers these animals relevant in official statistics.
Young, a Byline Times reader, has been meeting politicians to push for a full ban on medical testing on animals within four years. Parliament’s Animals in Science Committee recently wrote to ministers calling for a government-led strategy on the uptake and further development of non-animal methods for medical research, known as New Approach Methodologies or NAMs.
“Before, I felt like I was slightly hitting dead ends. And what’s been amazing is speaking to Keir Starmer and speaking to people in the Labour Party, it’s the opposite,” Young said.
In the UK, tests on animals must be deemed “necessary” and “justified” for research purposes. The framework is meant to ensure that likely harms to the animals are weighed against the potential benefits, there are no alternatives available, and the number of animals and degree of suffering is minimised.
However, animal rights campaigners say these principles are regularly breached and the lack of a ban on animal testing limits the momentum for alternatives.
“We’re a very well known nation of dog lovers. I don’t think any one that owns a dog in this country would sanction the breeding of beagles for research. They use beagles as they are the most forgiving breed – then they’re bled out on site for the whole of their life. The torture that happens to them [and] the toxicology tests on them are disgusting,” Young said, speaking from his home in Berkshire.
The comments follow a bubbling, long-term interest in politics. At school, Young set up an Eco Society, before studying Politics at the University of Exeter. Ahead of next year’s election, he joins a growing band of progressive celebrities throwing their weight against the Conservatives.
In 2021, Young handcuffed himself to the gates of MBR Acres, a site for breeding and testing animals in Cambridgeshire, in a deliberate attempt to draw attention to the cause.
Speaking to Byline Times, Young also revealed his growing links to the Labour party, saying: “Labour has a very good history on animal welfare…I don’t mind saying this. I don’t think Conservatives are a party that cares. Their record speaks for itself in all areas of life.”
Asked whether the Pop Idol star would be voting for Labour at the next election, he said simply: “Yes.”
Last year, Young spoke about the suicide of his twin brother, Rupert, in 2020, and the “woefully underfunded” NHS that cared for him.
Now, he has opened up about how it felt learning that figures in government were “partying” during the pandemic while only four people could attend his brother’s funeral.
“While I was at the funeral for my brother…there were only four people, because of social distancing. I will never forget that. They just willfully broke the rules and then lied about it. I’ll never forget that, and I’ll never forgive them for it.
“I think a lot of people in this country won’t forget it and won’t forgive them. They should be kicked out and it should be a complete rout.”
He added that the “arrogance” of the Conservative Government has “taken my breath away”.
“It is so awful to behold how they have just destroyed people’s lives – from a lying Boris Johnson to a 44 day Prime Minister who, through her horrific economic policies, just destroyed people’s lives. [They] carry on marching around, with their arrogance and their lack of humility, with no desire to ever apologise. Look at the schools now. They’re a party that doesn’t care,” the two-time Brit Award winner said.
Young’s call for an immediate ban on testing on dogs for medicines and household products is a “first step” before a full ban on animal testing within four years. “The reality is we’re operating a system that has passed its sell-by by date now. And the sad thing about it is, every day, animals are being tortured, and really for no purpose. that you’re very hard pressed to find any scientific papers that actually prove that animal testing works,” he argued.
The Light My Fire singer and stage actor will be chairing a panel at Labour Party conference next month on animal rights. Asked whether he’d ever enter politics as a candidate, he said: “No. I put my foot in my mouth too often.”
But he added: “I do think that hopefully most of the country is fed up to the back teeth of this Government and being run by self serving Tories. That honestly, it’s just so that would drive me alone to campaign.”
Labour did not comment for this piece, but confirmed the meeting between Will Young and Keir Starmer took place.
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