2015 General Election results
What does the election mean for animal welfare?
Well, that was a bit of a surprise result wasn’t it!
There has been a deluge of commentary since Friday morning’s result, dissecting what happened, what went wrong for Labour and the Lib Dems, and what went so spectacularly right for the Conservatives and the SNP. But what does this all mean for animal welfare? Should we be excited, scared, or somewhere in the middle?
Before I start, and just for the record, World Animal Protection is a charity and therefore does not endorse or support any political party or politician: we have a track record of working with all politicians who are willing to protect animals and improve standards.
I expect the next few months, and possibly years are going to be dominated by two animal welfare issues: the Hunting Act and the badger cull. Although these are not campaigns we work on specifically, you can probably read all you need to from our core beliefs: “We move the world to protect animals. We end the suffering of animals because animals have a right to live free from pain”.
But, important as these two issues are, they are not going to be the only animal welfare concerns raised over the next 5 years and which will require the consideration and action from the UK Government. We are working tirelessly to seek change on 3 core campaigns:
1) ‘Sea Change’ – our campaign to protect animals from the threat of discarded fishing gear
2) Wildlife Crime – calling for a domestic strategic plan to tackle wildlife crime in the UK
3) Dairy Farming – our calls to keep cows on grass and put free range milk on the shelves
The Hunting Act and the badger cull are likely to produce a torrent of criticism and abuse at the new Conservative Government from animal welfare supporters. But as animal welfare supporters and organisations we would be mistaken to presume therefore that we cannot make any progress for animals outside of these areas. We have had tremendous support over the past few years from Conservative MPs across our campaign areas, particularly in our drive to promote traditional pasture-based dairy farming i.e. keeping cows on grass and out of factory farms.
The last Government also did do a huge amount of work in leading the global effort to tackle wildlife crime. We would now like to see that effort coming back to deliver a strategic plan tackling wildlife crime at home, but the global effort should not be understated.
Our sea change campaign has also significant support in Conservative circles, and why wouldn’t it! Who could not support our efforts to remove and reduce the amount of ‘ghost fishing gear’ going into our oceans which each year traps, injures and kills hundreds of thousands of whales, seals, turtles and birds.
So where do we go from here? Well it’s worth saying of course there are politicians of all parties supporting our work and animal welfare too, and we will look to all of them across the next 5 years to ensure animal welfare is not drowned out by competing pitches for support.
But democracy is not served by only making your voice heard once every five years. We now need you more than ever, to stand with us and make sure the new Government and your own elected politicians hear your voice and your beliefs. We need them all to protect animals across the UK and globally, and they need to know that we will be here every step of the way, urging them to do so!