Statements on animal welfare from Labour’s Leader and Deputy Leader

It has become a tradition for LAWS to approach candidates in Labour’s Leader and Deputy Leader elections, asking them to provide a statement giving their views on animal welfare issues.

Their views are important because animal welfare is important, but also because a significant number of electors (and Labour members) believe these issues are important as well. Indeed a large number of voters seek out political parties’ manifesto commitments with regard to animal welfare before deciding who to vote for.

Here are the statements received from the successful candidates.

We’d love to hear your feedback what the candidates have had to say, so feel free to let us know at .

Sir Keir Starmer MP

Labour’s socialist societies are a hugely important part of the Labour Party family and the Labour Animal Welfare Society play a crucial role in campaigning on the rights of animals and promoting animal welfare within our party. We are the Party of the hunting ban and the Animal Welfare Act and that wouldn’t be the case without you.

I was proud to support Labour’s animal welfare manifesto, particularly the commitment to introduce a powerful animal welfare commissioner looking after the interests of animals at the heart of Government.

I also support enshrining the principle of animal sentience into UK law, and my team pushed hard on this important issue during the passage of Brexit legislation. The fact that the Tories used their MPs in Parliament to reject the amendment to recognise animal sentience shows where their priorities really lie. The Tories have overseen the inhumane badger cull and turned a blind eye to those circumventing the Hunting Act. That’s why I am particularly concerned that the protection of animal welfare will be ignored in this government’s pursuit of trade deals.

I would be delighted to have the support of the Labour Animal Welfare Society, and if elected leader I would look forward to working closely with you, drawing on the expertise and experience of the Labour Animal Welfare Society to keep developing this vital agenda.

Angela Rayner MP

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.