All parties must adopt meaningful animal welfare policies

Posted On: 
7th November 2019

The League Against Cruel Sports is urging all parties to adopt meaningful animal welfare policies as part of their manifestos, a common passion that can both entice and unite voters, writes Chief Executive, Andy Knott MBE.

Those parties that have animal welfare truly at heart should also pledge to strengthen the Hunting Act and to close loopholes that allow hunt groups to act contrary to the spirit of the law, writes Andy Knott MBE, Chief Executive, League Against Cruel Sports.
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Gone are the days when voters cast their ballot purely on social class or long-standing party allegiance.

As the last three years in particular have proved, it’s what people and parties stand for that counts most. People are also looking for somewhere to place their trust, be it in people, parliament or the law.

The remain/leave Brexit debate continues to blur previously clear lines in the political spectrum. Recently, both a YouGov poll and research from the British Election Study found that voters are more promiscuous than ever.

So how does a party woo promiscuous voters and turn them monogamous?

Shortly before the 2017 general election, fox hunting was dismissed by the Countryside Alliance as an ‘irrelevant’ issue. A few months later Theresa May was forced to drop plans to hold a free vote to repeal the Hunting Act after being sent, in her words, ‘a clear message’ from the voters at the ballot box.

This was a lesson relearned in the recent Conservative party leadership contest, proving that a pledge to protect animal welfare can be a unifying one. Doing the opposite can sting a bit.

Animal welfare is a ‘permission issue’: one which speaks to voters’ own day-to-day ethics, and one which will allow the party that stands with them on this one issue to speak to them about others.

That’s why the League Against Cruel Sports is urging all parties to adopt meaningful animal welfare policies as part of their manifestos; a common passion that can both entice and unite voters.

At the very least this would safeguard the Hunting Act, but those parties that have animal welfare truly at heart should also pledge to strengthen it; to close loopholes that allow hunt groups to act contrary to the spirit of the law by their continued killing of wild animals.

Our patron, Bill Oddie, OBE, sums it up so well: “There is a real opportunity here to show unity where there has been division, to commit to a vision of Britain that is a kinder place for all of us to live, where there is an understanding of the importance of protecting the environment around us and all the wildlife that shares our land.”

In a voting environment of promiscuity, if one party woos the voters by pledging to secure the Hunting Act, are other parties risking missing out on getting their dance card – the ballot paper – marked if they don’t?

There are 51 parliamentary seats with under 1,000 majority. My 20 years in the Army, including leading my Regiment in Afghanistan at the height of the fighting, taught me many things. Occupying the moral, as well as the geographical, high ground was one of them. Counting was another.