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We took a close look at the party manifestos before the 2010 General Election to see what they had to say about animal welfare.
The good news is that animal welfare continues to gain recognition as a matter of public interest. On the other hand, there are widely differing interpretations of what’s likely to be good for animals and people in the United Kingdom over the next few years.
We’ve also looked at sections of the manifestos that relate to environment, food and farming, wildlife and so on, where the policies might have implications for animals or might offer opportunities for development.
Don’t forget, for policies that are definitely designed to improve things for animals, you need look no further than our OneKind Manifesto for Animal Welfare or in hard copy by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org If you’ve not already done so, please send a pre-drafted message to your candidates to find out how important animals' welfare is to them.
The Labour manifesto talks of “valuing nature for everyone” and a variety of environmental measures. More specifically, the Manifesto states:
“We have banned foxhunting and animal testing for cosmetics and tobacco, and we will bring forward further animal welfare measures. We will campaign internationally to end illegal trading in ivory and to protect species such as polar bears, seals and bluefin tuna, as well as for an EU-wide ban on illegally logged timber, banning it domestically if this does not succeed.
The Liberal Democrats promise “enhanced protection for animals”, and offer a pioneering proposal for an Animal Protection Commission:
“Liberal Democrats believe that ownership and use of animals is a responsibility that should not be abused.
They have comprehensive policies on animal protection, including measures to support smaller scale and organic farming, to phase out all forms of factory farming and to reduce the environmental impact of meat and dairy consumption.
The Greens state “We share the world with other animals and are not entitled to ill-treat or exploit them” and also pledge to:
Their manifesto focuses on animal welfare and social justice, stating that “[t]reating people, animals, and the environment with respect is our key priority. The party’s key animal welfare policies for the general election are:
The Plaid Cymru manifesto does not mention animal welfare at all.
The Conservative Party makes a general commitment to improving conservation and welfare:
“We will protect and improve the UK’s natural environment, and pioneer new schemes to improve conservation. We will push for reform of the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies to promote sustainable farming and fishing. We will promote high animal welfare standards and ensure that government procures locally-produced food wherever possible[…]”
There are Conservative commitments to being “vigilant” in ensuring the welfare of animals:
“We will promote the highest standards of farm animal welfare. We will work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research. We will promote responsible pet ownership by introducing effective codes of practice under the Animal Welfare Act, and target irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs.”
The Conservatives also pledge to oppose any resumption of commercial whaling: press for a total ban on ivory sales and the destruction of existing stockpiles; and to promote new green spaces and wildlife corridors to help animals adapt and thrive in the face of climate change.
Inexplicably, however, the manifesto suggests that hunting wild animals is part of civil liberties, placing a pledge to bring back foxhunting in the section entitled Restoring our civil liberties:
“The Hunting Act has proved unworkable. A Conservative government will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time.”
UKIP also makes a broad commitment to animal welfare but supports hunting:
“UKIP believes all animals that share our planet deserve to be treated compassionately by humans and should be spared unnecessary suffering.” The manifesto refers to a full Animal Welfare policy to be found on its website, but this has not yet appeared. Elsewhere in the document, however, UKIP pledges to allow “county referendums to reverse the hunt¬ing ban at the local level”.
Their manifesto contains no specific reference to animal welfare. In related areas, the party says that it supports the transfer of a power to legislate on the use of air weapons and it intends to provide a “strong voice” for the “economically important” fishing and agriculture sectors. The party considers that whitefish discards “represent a moral and environmental obscenity and stopping these discards is one of the keys to securing a more prosperous and sustainable future for Scots fishermen”: no mention is made of the welfare of the fish that are killed in this way.
Thier manifesto contains no specific reference to animal welfare. On related matters. The party wants to protect habitats and diversity and promotes sustainable and organic agriculture as means of achieving this. They are concerned about the power of the “vast retailers” that “have so much power that they can tell us what to eat, tell farmers what to grow, set the prices and let others carry the cost of their wasteful practices”. Scottish Greens support “well-regulated, sustainable aquaculture” and would put stricter controls on industrial fishing.
They promise a Fair Deal for Consumers that includes a pledge to end the testing of household products on animals. In European terms, they would amend fisheries management and would “work for the proper enforcement of regulations for the transportation of live animals across all EU member states”. On environmental grounds, Scottish Liberal Democrats want to encourage the production of organic and reduced-input foodstuffs, and would support clearer labelling of foodstuffs including country of origin.
NB the welfare of animals under the control of man – farmed animals, pets and wild animals in captivity – is a devolved issue, which may be why the Scottish parties give no space to these issues but focus more on EU issues.
Due to charity law we can’t suggest you give your vote to any particular party in the general election, but an article written by Andrew Knight, President of Animals Count, provides an excellent summary of policies across a number of parties, including his own. Andrew says, “…elections provide a window of opportunity to ensure that animals receive a basic level of political consideration” and we agree – but we plan to keep the momentum going afterwards, as well! Read Andrew Knight's article
Labour - Yes
Plaid Cymru - No
Conservative - Yes
UKIP - Yes
Liberal Democrat - Yes
SNP – No
Scottish Greens – No
Scottish Liberal Democrats - Yes
(Advocates for Animals supports labelling of animal-derived foods to help consumers choose products associated with higher welfare systems. None of the parties addresses this aspect directly, but there is support across the board for better labelling, offering potential for improvement in this area.)
Labour - Consumers have the right to know where food comes from. We are working with the food industry and retailers to ensure proper food labelling, including tougher and clearer ‘country of origin’ information. This will also help to level the playing field for British farmers.
Plaid Cymru - We need changes to UK food labelling legislation so that consumers have clear information on ‘place of farming’.
Conservative - We will introduce honesty in food labelling, if necessary through legislation, so consumers can be confident about where their food comes from. This will ensure that meat labelled as ‘British’ is born and bred in Britain, and raised to our high welfare standards. And we will promote local food networks so that homes and businesses can obtain supplies of locally produced food.
UKIP - Introduce labels that differentiate between ethically-produced and non ethically-produced food products, backed by significant consumer advertising. This will empower the consumer and demonstrate the high quality of British produce and UK animal welfare standards.
(Westminster cannot change the legislation in Scotland as this issue is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.)
Labour - Cites the fact that it has banned foxhunting, implying that the ban will stay in place.
Conservative - Claims the Hunting Act has proved unworkable. A Conservative government will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time.
UKIP - Will allow “county referendums to reverse the hunting ban at the local level”.
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