Mixed bag for animal welfare in manifestos With the election campaign in full swing, the League Against Cruel Sports has been out around the country with Vinny the Fox and his battle bus. We’ve been speaking to members of the public about the importance of animal welfare, why the Hunting Act should not be repealed, and why we need to increase sentences for animal cruelty. While Vinny has been getting on with his campaign, so have the political parties. The last week has seen manifestos released by the Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Conservative parties. Below, we give our view on their pledges. Labour Party We welcome the Labour Party’s commitment to maintaining the Hunting Act, and their recognition that it is not only foxes that are protecting by the Act, but hares and deer as well. We also welcome the commitment to increasing sentencing for animal cruelty offences – however, we would like an assurance that this will be increased to a five year sentence. The 2015 Labour Party manifesto committed ending wildlife crime associated with shooting – it is regrettable that this commitment is not carried through to the 2017 manifesto. It is disappointing that recent pledges, including support for a ban on snares, have not been carried through to the manifesto. Conservative Party As outlined in our response to the manifesto, we are disappointed to see the commitment to a free vote on the Hunting Act included in the manifesto given the strong support the ban on hunting has among Conservative MPs and Conservative voters. Hopefully any attempt to repeal, weaken or replace the Hunting Act will be prevented by those members of all parties who oppose the killing of animals for fun. However, welcome that the Conservative Manifesto pledges to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it, and that there is a commitment to improving animal welfare. But any repeal or weakening of the Hunting Act would completely contradict these two aims. Liberal Democrats We welcome the Liberal Democrat commitment to “introduce stronger penalties for animal cruelty offences, increasing the maximum sentencing from six months to five years”. This specific commitment to five years is absent from the Labour and Conservative manifesto, and we are pleased to see the Liberal Democrats take it on board. We also welcome their support for clamping down on illegal The Lib Dems made no mention of the Hunting Act in their manifesto. To Come The SNP, UKIP and Greens have not yet released their manifestos. This blog will be updated once they do.