Politics and animal welfare: the developments so far
Will Morton is head of public affairs for the League Against Cruel Sports, and has been keeping a close eye on what the political parties have been saying so far:
The past week has shown that animal welfare is a central issue of the forthcoming general election, with political parties issuing – or leaking – their positions on it. I’ll be updating this blog as manifestos are published, so do keep coming back for the latest information!
Late on Monday, the Labour party announced it would move to tackle fox hunting by strengthening the Hunting Act and boosting funding to allow police to successfully prosecute the perpetrators of wildlife crime.
It was a move my colleague Martin Sims, former head of the police’s National Wildlife Crime Unit and now director of investigations at the League Against Cruel Sports, applauded.
In The Mirror he said it would make the Hunting Act the deterrent it should always have been, giving custodial sentences to those caught using dogs to chase and kill animals for ‘sport’.
On Sunday, November 25 the Conservative Party published their manifesto, which simply said: ‘no changes will be made to the Hunting Act’. In every election manifesto since the law was passed in 2004, the party has promised to reverse the law and make the bloodsport legal again, so while this pledge does not go anywhere near as far as Labour’s promises to strengthen the Hunting Act, it is nevertheless a significant step for the party and for the countryside.
Our CEO, Andy Knott, MBE, said:“Animal welfare is an issue that can bring a country back together, united against hunting and other forms of animal cruelty, and it speaks volumes when a party that has spent the last 14 years loudly promising to overturn the hunting ban changes its position in this way.
“This general election we are calling on parties of all political colours to commit to protecting the welfare of wild animals by strengthening the Hunting Act, and we are campaigning hard to see more MPs in parliament who support animal welfare issues than ever before.”
Take Green Party has promised to ban all hunting, including trail hunting, as part of a raft of animal welfare commitments in its general election manifesto.
My colleague Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns, described the move as ‘transformational’ for animal welfare, and I tend to agree.
Fox hunting was absent from the Lib Dem manifesto, leading to our call for the party to ‘get off the fence’ on the issue and commit explicitly to both keeping the fox hunting ban in place and strengthening it to help end fox hunting once and for all.
Democratic Unionist Party
The DUP has ignored hunting – it being still legal in Northern Ireland – so our work there will continue after the election has finished.
So while there is some very good news, our campaign to urge all parties to get #UnitedAgainstHunting will continue until the last ballot box is collected and taken for counting on December 12.
Scottish Nationalist Party
The SNP’s 57-page manifesto was curiously silent on the subject of hunting, which doesn’t seem to chime with the Scottish First Minister’s promise in the Scottish parliament that she is committed to strengthening the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002. It’s disappointing to see the MPs are not as committed as the MSPs at at least saying they’ll try and lobby for a stronger Hunting Act 2004.
Because getting manifesto commitments is one thing. The next step is returning as many anti-hunt MPs to parliament as we can, to finally end hunting for ‘sport’ for good.
Please join us and take the action here.