Meet the MEP candidate bringing animal rights to the conversation

Vanessa Hudson

Vanessa Hudson Pic: Alisha Pilkington

Vanessa Hudson wastes no time in the final days of her campaign, hitting the streets of Bethnal Green to hand out fliers and talk to the people of London.

Hudson’s blonde waves shine in the sunlight and the party ribbon on her jacket draws instant attention. The party leader/producer/mother takes a small break from the days campaigning to sit outside and enjoy the weather.

Leader of the Animal Welfare Party, Hudson is running in the current EU parliamentary elections. She hopes that her party can bring a bigger picture attitude to the EU.

Hudson discovered the party during her day job as a producer, considering them as a subject for a documentary. Once she sat down and listened to the party’s message though she knew she was “no longer objective” and needed to be a part of it.

Taking over leadership shortly after in 2010, Hudson has brought her lifelong passion for animal welfare to the party.

After a move to rural North Nottinghamshire at seven years old, the family lived beside a chicken slaughterhouse. Recalling the incident that made her a vegan of 25 years, Hudson said: “We used to stand as kids and watch the chickens being killed and one day we just decided we couldn’t be part of that anymore.”

Animals are not the only focus of the AWP though, they’re simply brought to the forefront as a promise that they are being considered by the party.

“I wouldn’t say we’re campaigning primarily for animals, just that we’re not leaving them out.” She said with a patient smile.

In fact, Hudson said that when people accuse them of being a single issue party, she argues that all other parties – with the exception of the Greens- are single issue parties.

“We say they’re only focusing on human issues and human stories, and actually human beings represent only 0.01 per cent of all life on earth. So there is 99.99 per cent of life on earth that is mainly ignored by the other parties.”

Advocating for 100 per cent of life on Earth is what the AWP is about, according to Hudson. Something she believes is best done inside the European Union.

“The key to addressing some of the worst things that happen to animals is through the EU parliament.”

The AWP has joined a coalition with ten other parties for animals within the EU. They signed a shared manifesto, marking the first time that a group of 11 parties has contested the EU elections together.

Whether or not the election brings success, Hudson is committed to continuing her work in cooperation with the EU.

“We want to be part of that conversation, part of that debate.” She said with serious eyes and a hopeful smile.

Although Hudson believes the EU to be far from perfect, she doesn’t think that influence should just be thrown away. Instead, she wants to work for reform within the EU.

Big or small, Hudson is prepared to make a difference. Her daughter, who generously agreed to join the interview while taking a break from playing, was concerned for the fate of a stray ant who made its way upon the table.

Animal welfare party sign on a childs push chair

Hudson spreads her message wherever possible Pic: Alisha Pilkington

Taking the ant, Hudson took it to a patch of grass near a tree, away from trampling feet. Her daughter was rather disappointed, wanting to re-home the ant in her hat, but eventually agreed that it was best where it was.

A three-year-old may seem like a disruptive presence on the campaign trail, but as Hudson points out sometimes you don’t have a choice. Even so, she hopes that instead of being a hindrance it will instead remind people that politicians are just normal people.

“Anything we can do to reconnect with people has to be a good thing.”

Elections will be held tomorrow. Information on candidates and polling stations can be found here.

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