The Labour Party published its Green Manifesto over the weekend. Among the 21 pages is a tiny section devoted to animal welfare. The entire text of Section 9, “We will improve animal welfare,” reads as follows:

Labour has a proud record on animal welfare. Over the past thirteen years we have not only banned fox hunting, but other cruel and unethical practices such as hare coursing, drift net fishing and fur farming. We have banned animal testing on cosmetics, alcohol and tobacco and set tougher penalties for crimes of cruelty against animals. Our 2006 Animal Welfare Act was the first major overhaul of animal welfare legislation for over a century. In the next Parliament we will ban cages for game birds and wild animals in circuses. We will continue the review of wildlife crime legislation, including the Hunting Act’s code of practice, to give animals appropriate protection.

It’s about time Labour took action on game birds and wild animals in circuses, which are two issues that they could’ve dealt with since their election in 1997. There is also welcome news in their pledge to review wildlife crime legislation, including the Hunting Act, which the Conservatives want to repeal. This marks a clear distinction between the two parties on the hunting issue.

This is all well and good but it does not undo the conclusion I made in my first blog about Labour and animal welfare in which I said, “Animal cruelty and exploitation have no place in a modern, progressive Britain but you wouldn’t know it from reading Labour’s manifesto.”

This is such a shame because, as Labour itself states, it has made significant improvements to animal welfare in the last 13 years. Of course, who wouldn’t want more? But the Labour government compares very favorably with all preceding governments. Sadly, this state of affairs will not help those of us who believe, regardless of whichever political party forms future governments, animal welfare is a public policy issue and not just a personal lifestyle choice.

Animal advocates who wish to make animal welfare the responsibility of future governments must get involved in the political party of their choice and work from within to advance the issue. Why else do you think the Conservative Party is so set on repealing the Hunting Act? It’s because it’s the hunters’ party of choice. Always has. Always will be.

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