The Conservative Manifesto and Animal Welfare

In the Foreword to the Conservative Party manifesto, “Invitation to Join the Government of Britain,” which was published yesterday, it states

Our fundamental tenet is that power should be devolved from politicians to people, from the central to the local. (vii)

In this interpretation of democracy, the Conservatives say

We believe in responsibility: government responsibility with public finances, personal responsibility for our actions, and social responsibility towards each other. We believe in enterprise and aspiration. We believe there is such a thing as society, it’s just not the same thing as the state. (vii)

Laudable enough, no doubt; however, in the section, “Change Politics: Restore Our Civil Liberties,” it states

The Hunting Act has proved unworkable. A Conservative government will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time. (80)

And therein lays the hypocrisy of the Tories proposed DIY government.

On the one hand, they say people power but, on the other hand, they’re willing to take away from the people one of the most popular pieces of legislation in recent times. Their approach to democracy is to give power to the people when the people agree with them. It’s no surprise the Hunting Act is unworkable. No legislation is perfect. Why repeal it and not offer an alternative? That’s because the Tories are the same old Tories. Vote for change. Vote for the return of hare coursing and fox, stag and deer hunting.

The Tories DIY government’s answer to the challenge of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is to kill badgers in “carefully-managed and science-led” culls. (97) This flies in the face of independent scientific research which concluded badger culling will marginally impact the rate of bTB in cattle and may even spread the disease as badgers flee to safer areas. Before a cull is even considered farmers should be required to prove they have exhaustively implemented low-cost precautionary measures to prevent badger-cattle transmission.

The Tories proposed policies to kill Britain’s wildlife puts into perspective their commitment to be “vigilant in ensuring the welfare of animals” and “promote the highest standards of farm animal welfare.”

We will work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research. We will promote responsible pet ownership by introducing effective codes of practice under the Animal Welfare Act, and target irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs. (95)

Further, the Tories pledge to “give wildlife greater protection” by opposing resumption of commercial whaling and ensuring the international moratorium stays in place; pressing for a ban on ivory sales and destruction of existing stockpiles; and promoting new green spaces and wildlife corridors.

Again, all laudable commitments; however, as with Labour’s manifesto, they are more like bottom line issues that are currently underway.