PETA activists display placards along with chained inflatable elephants, during a demonstration. Photograph: Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Why was the ban on circus animals dropped from the Queen's Speech?

Cameron's caution prevailed over the Lib Dems.

After a slimline Queen's Speech of just 11 bills, attention has moved to those that were left out. The most notable absentee was a proposed law banning the use of wild animals in circuses. Earlier this year, David Cameron promised campaigners including Stanley Johnson, Peter Tatchell and Caroline Lucas: "We’re going to do it". But the measure didn't receive a mention in the address. I'm told that the Lib Dems were pushing for a bill to be included, but that Cameron's caution prevailed. The bill would have been exactly the kind of "barnacle" that Lynton Crosby has sought to scrape off the coalition boat.

Among those who will be most angered is Conservative MP Mark Pritchard, who has campaigned for years on the issue and who revealed in 2011 that he was "threatened" by Downing Street and offered a "pretty trivial job" in return for dropping his motion on the subject (which was subsequently passed by MPs).

After reports that a ban on circus animals would be included in the Queen's Speech, he told his local paper: "I am delighted that my Bill on ending the use of wild animals in circuses will be included in the Queen's Speech.

"It's a real result for everyone in Shropshire and throughout the country who have supported my endeavours."

The more cynical types in Westminster are noting that Cameron's constituency of Witney is home to Amazing Animals, a company which trains wild animals for use in circuses.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

New Statesman
Show Hide image

Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.



In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.