More recently, in July 2011 an ORB poll confirmed that ‘animal welfare is something that most people say is important when deciding which political party to support and for one in six (16%) it is “very important”.’
Labour has a long and proud tradition of supporting and improving the welfare of animals.
Prior to the 1997 election Labour published a document ‘new life for animals’ containing a clear set of animal welfare policies. Most of these were subsequently delivered. The leaflet and the policies proved popular with voters, underlining the importance of the above poll results.
This long tradition appears to have diminished of late to the detriment of the Party and what it stands for.
Cruelty to animals is wrong, just as cruelty to humans is wrong. Causing unnecessary suffering to animals deliberately or through neglect for whatever reason should be prevented whether in the wild, in the home or on farms. It is right that we have laws and regulations to stop cruelty and that those who break these laws are treated as criminals.
Such a belief is part of a good society.
The Labour Animal Welfare Society has carried out a consultation exercise. As a result LAWS believes the Labour Party should adopt a policy on Animal Welfare for the next election, which would include:
- Bring in an effective strategy to enforce the ban on hunting with hounds. Breaching the Act should be a notifiable offence.
- Ban the fur trade and clearly label real fur products until such a ban can be introduced – consumers are buying real fur items without even realising it.
- Bring in a ban on wild animals in circuses – and eventually ban all performing animals in circuses.
- End the factory farming of game birds for shooting – more than 45 million pheasants and partridges are mass produced each year in the UK in hatcheries and rearing sheds. The young birds are fattened and released as moving targets for shooters.
- Bring in a strategy to encourage less meat consumption.
- Extend the ban on testing cosmetic products on animals to household products and increase the investment in finding alternatives to animal testing – it’s time for more relevant, effective science.
- Review dog breeding, ban the use of electric shock collars and bring the Dangerous Dogs Act up to date.
- Work with relevant agencies to provide ‘safe houses’ for pets – many women, in particular, remain in dangerous, abusive situations facing domestic violence as they will not leave the family pet behind. Providing temporary, secure homes for the animals would help victims to escape.
- End ‘pet fairs’. Exotic animals are not good pets and the trade in wildlife is a threat to some species.
- Continue to support the banning of hunting and slaughtering of whales working with international partners to bring an end to commercial seal hunts.
No election will ever be won on animal welfare policy – nor should it be – but by extending a sense of social justice to animals, the Labour Party would distinguish itself from others and would secure the votes of those who share that same value. It would also be doing something because – quite simply – it is the right thing to do.
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