I was pleased to stand for election recently on the Labour Party’s most comprehensive and progressive animal welfare manifesto in our history. Animal welfare issues have been very much at the forefront of my campaigning activity since first being elected an MP in 2015.
I have actively campaigned against the government’s Badger Cull. I have marched against the cull and supported organisations such as the Badger Trust who advocate protection of this endangered species. I have argued for vaccination and improved farming methods as a better method of TB control, and faced down attacks from Farmers Weekly and others for taking that position.
I am pleased Labour is committed to strengthening and properly enforcing the Hunting Act. There are still too many hunts getting away with hunting foxes with dogs and avoiding prosecution. I want to see tougher legislation introduced to tackle hunting of deer and mink, and hare coursing. I have regularly clashed with the BASC over hunting and countryside sports concerning wild animals. Similarly, I was proud of our policy to end the importing of fur and want to ensure that commitment is kept.
Recently I have been highlighting the systematic illegal killing of hen harriers because of managed grouse moors, whose owners see this beautiful bird of prey as a menace to grouse. I would like to see an eventual ban on grouse shooting and rewilding of these heavily managed moors.
The international pastime of rich hunters who partake in trophy hunting is cruel, archaic, immoral and unjustifiable. I have called for a ban on this cruel pursuit and attended parliamentary briefings on the campaign. I was very disappointed that the government consultation on banning trophy hunting has been temporarily halted, we must keep up the pressure on the government to act.
I regularly highlight the persecution of animals worldwide, such as elephants and big cats being hunted, polar bears being killed and turtles being slaughtered. I have criticised whaling operations in Japan that are claimed to be for “scientific research”. One post on the terrible killing of a Minke Whale being killed reached 11,453,575 accounts online and I will keep using my platform to expose this.
International animal welfare is not always about the hunting, and I have also spoken out about natural disasters like the recent Australian wildfires that have devastated the animal population and the habitat animals need to survive.
As you can see, animal welfare issues are extremely close to my heart. If I were elected deputy leader I would ensure that our party continued to stand up to vested interests on animal welfare and I would work with organisations like LAWS to do so.