Labour’s latest promises on animal welfare have brought widespread praise

Rows of ducks in cages, being prepared for foia gras
Glen Black

Labour has just published its newest Animal Welfare Manifesto. Its pledges are informed by public consultation and, as a result, tackles many conservationist and animal rights advocates’ concerns. And the public’s glowing response to the manifesto shows this.

“Drive up standards”

Labour’s 50-point manifesto was published early on 28 August. It covers issues ranging from tenant rights for pets and banning foie gras to tightening the Hunting Act and making all forms of animal cruelty equally punishable. Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman says the party would appoint an independent animal welfare commissioner to:

ensure that government policy across Whitehall is continually informed and underpinned by the latest scientific evidence on animal sentience and best practice in animal welfare.

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Hayman also criticises the Conservatives’ approach to animal welfare legislation. She describes their approach as “haphazard”, putting out “stand-alone policies” undermined by an agenda that “at best overlooks animal welfare and at worst seeks to turn back the clock”. Instead, Hayman says Labour’s vision for animal welfare is one where:

no animal is made to suffer unnecessary pain and degradation and where we continue to drive up standards and practice in line with the most recent advances and understanding.

“Thank you”

Conservationists, animal rights advocates, and members of the public have welcomed Labour’s plans. Among those are high-profile figures:

Conservation and rights groups also welcomed the news:

And members of the public were pleased too:

On the other hand, some people highlighted concerns left out of the manifesto:

But as one person pointed out, these promises could be the start of something much bigger:

Trail hunt lies

A spokesperson for the Labour Animal Welfare Society told The Canary that the manifesto shows real commitment to animals. It also highlighted the pledge to tighten the Hunting Act:

It’s absolutely great news that Sue Hayman’s Labour Team are committed to improving #LAWS4Animals following a public consultation which reviewed thousands of submissions on improving legislation against animal cruelty.

I am especially glad to see the commitment to strengthen the Hunting Act as recently the intent of the Law has been flouted by so called trail hunting, where packs of hounds rioting, chasing and killing is not prosecuted.Sue Hayman and the Labour Team stand with over 80% of the population who are opposed to fox stag and hare hunting and want the intent of the Hunting Act enforced.

Labour says it will close loopholes in the hunting ban to “enhance” the law. In particular, it will introduce a ‘recklessness’ clause, which makes hunts liable for killing even if it’s accidental. Labour says this would “prevent trail hunts being used as cover for the illegal hunting of wild mammals”. Anti-hunting activists have promoted this reform for years.

Turning point

In recent weeks, the Tories have started presenting themselves as a party of animal welfare. Leader Boris Johnson has been vocal in his opposition to whaling, for example. And the government’s recent Environment Bill update promised “mandatory” requirements on developers for a “net gain” in biodiversity. But as Hayman points out, these are stand-alone policies that don’t reflect a wider advocacy for domestic, farmed and wild animals.

Should it get into government, we must hold the Labour Party accountable to its promises. Because if we do, it could be a real step forwards for our society’s treatment of animals.

Featured image via L214/Wikimedia

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