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A little bird told me something. Been bursting to share!

by Darren

I hope you all had a great Christmas and some partying over the new year.  I’ve been struggling with flu for a good few weeks, meaning I lost the opportunity to get out in both periods of snowfall we had here.  I’m probably the only person in the whole country who would like more.

Anyway, secrets. That’s what you’ve come here to know.  The little bird that told me wasn’t this D’Arnaud’s Barbet, but they gave me fantastic news.  It’s about to break, and I do hope it’s right.

At the end of last year, if you read the blog regularly or follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I was involved in starting several campaigns about animal welfare.  It all started a bit by accident after a rant about Hamleys having live penguins in store, and grew from there.  The genius campaigning assistance of James Barisic who came up with the hashtag #sHamleys (shame Hamleys) and later #Riversnide which successfully persuaded Riverside Shopping Centre in Hertfordshire to (somewhat ungracefully) cancel their own event.  It inspired some wonderful campaigners to also get other events cancelled, including at West Quay in Southampton who wonderfully replaced live reindeer with costumed (human) reindeer.

Anyway, once that died down I had the chance to chat a little more with the contacts I had made with charities who campaign on Animal Welfare, and we got around to talking about wild animal circuses.  I’ve thought about doing something on this issue for ages so I was delighted to get involved.  They (rightly) placed the success of the animals in shops campaigns with individuals (people like James).  Charities have constitutions and trustees and paperwork. We can all be fluid and act quickly.

They had a hunch that the Government was about to announce regulation for the circus industry, despite 94% of the public telling them in their own consultation that they wanted a ban.  I asked people to get involved again, and despite it being just before Christmas with so many other things going on, people did.  They wrote to their MPs and they asked them to sign EDM 403 calling for a ban.

Then I went quiet ….

I used to work in politics (as did James, as did Louise my wife – indeed Louise knew James in real life before I met him on Twitter!).  I still have friends in Government.  One of them dropped me a line and told me to shut up.  “It looks like you’re about to win” were the words I needed for a great Christmas, whether flu tried to ruin it or not.  I also promised not to share further until now.

Anyway, I understand that there will be an announcement this week.  It hasn’t happened yet, and given Parliament comes back next week, I shouldn’t be surprised if it’s then.  If it’s not a ban, I’ll look a bit silly having written this post, but I trust the person who told me, and if wishing made it so ….

A ban on travelling wild animal circuses is one the things I’d really like to see in 2011.  I’ll speak a bit more about the others (including getting back to the animals in shops issue) over the next few days, but in the meantime, can you do something for me?

The Shorty Awards started today.  There’s a category called ‘green’ which is very appropriate.  It would really help to achieve some more wonderful results like #sHamleys, #Riversnide and #BigsTop (the tag we used for the circus effort) if we could get some more attention to them.

I never thought I’d say this again after leaving politics, but if you use Twitter, and wouldn’t mind, please … vote for me?

To do so, please click

When you’re done, as I’ve said James has been a tower of strength through all of this.  I’d really appreciate it if you’d vote for him in the politics category too by clicking  He really is a wonderful campaigner and a superb friend, to all of us and most importantly to the animals whose world we are changing, one tweet at a time!

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