Yesterday, the Labour Party published its manifesto, “A Future Fair for All,” which, according to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, called for a “modern, progressive Britain based on fairness, respect, decency and openness.”

The paragraph on animal welfare is in the section called “A Green Recovery” and the subsection “Valuing Nature for Everyone” (page 8:5).

We have banned foxhunting and animal testing for cosmetics and tobacco, and we will bring forward further animal welfare measures. We will campaign internationally to end illegal trading in ivory and to protect species such as polar bears, seals and bluefin tuna, as well as for an EU-wide ban on illegally logged timber, banning it domestically if this does not succeed.

The paragraph consists of a total of 61 words in a publication of 76 pages. Eleven words (18 per cent) focus on the past (“We have banned foxhunting and animal testing for cosmetics and tobacco”) and 50 words (82 per cent) address the future (“and we will bring forward further animal welfare measures. We will campaign internationally to end illegal trading in ivory and to protect species such as polar bears, seals and bluefin tuna, as well as for an EU-wide ban on illegally logged timber, banning it domestically if this does not succeed.”)

Of the 50 (82 per cent) words addressing the future, 19 words (31 per cent) are not directly about animal welfare (“as well as for an EU-wide ban on illegally logged timber, banning it domestically if this does not succeed”). This means that the remaining 31 words (51 per cent) directly address what a future Labour government will do for animal welfare (“and we will bring forward further animal welfare measures. We will campaign internationally to end illegal trading in ivory and to protect species such as polar bears, seals and bluefin tuna”). Of this text only 17 words (28 per cent) state specifically what a future Labour government would do on animal welfare (“end illegal trading in ivory and to protect species such as polar bears, seals and bluefin tuna”).

Analyzing the paragraph reveals Labour does not take seriously animal welfare as a mainstream political issue. There is not even, for example, any mention of wild animals in circuses or any of the issues included in the Vote Cruelty Free campaign. To be sure, ending the illegal trade in ivory and protecting polar bears, seals and bluefin tuna are to be welcome; however, they are not examples of outstanding or new issues in animal welfare in need of attention. They are more like bottom line issues that are currently underway.

After more than 30 years of campaigns to “put animals into politics” and “vote cruelty free,” yesterday’s publication of Labour’s manifesto demonstrates Britain’s animal welfare movement has yet to rise to the challenge of making the moral and legal status of animals a mainstream political issue. Animal cruelty and exploitation have no place in a modern, progressive Britain but you wouldn’t know it from reading Labour’s manifesto.

Post to Twitter

4 comments on “Animal Welfare in Labour’s Manifesto

  • I totally agree. I wonder what the lib dems will say in theirs… (always been a labour voter but blair – iraq put paid to that and this swing to the blairite – mandelson led weak brown manifesto is not helping. wet weasaly words indeed. I think there is an awareness growing but we have to be very careful with the buds so that people don’t get scared but grow it will it must. thanks for your great blogs

  • As a good socialist, I’m sure Kim will agree that it takes two to drive the dialectic of history!

    I met Ian Cawsey almost two years ago during his development of an animal welfare manifesto, and he was in touch with many other groups. He has submitted it to Gordon Brown, so the decision to all but ignore the issue is ultimately Labour’s. Unless ‘and we will bring forward further animal welfare measures’ means they will publish some supplementary intentions in this issue similar to New Life for Animals pre-1997.

    No doubt the animal protection movement could do better, but if Labour top brass just don’t give a shit (which I think is probably the case with them having been immersed in the amoral Whitehall culture for too long), or fail to see the political merits of a progressive animal protection agenda, what can we do?

  • On the other hand, we in the US would be absolutely thrilled were a Presidential candidate to mention animal welfare at all. Lots of work to be done all around the world, that’s for certain.

  • Labour’s animal welfare manifesto is disappointing. I hope they will publish a policy document soon to state more clearly what they would do. In fact, I hope all the political parties will do the same! Christine, Dan and Bee–thanks for your comments! Kim

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *