Where the Tories and Labour stand on animal welfare


The Labour party has unveiled a 50-point plan for inclusion in a new animal welfare bill as it seeks to capitalise on a perceived weakness in the Conservative party.

The oppositions wish-list reads like a “Jeremy Corbyn policy manifesto from his 2015 leadership bid” and includes extending the definition of an animal to cover “cephalopods” like squid and forcing landlords to let tenants keep a pet unless there’s “evidence” it’s a nuisance, says HuffPost’s Paul Waugh.

“It’s a measure of how seriously Corbyn is now taken, and of how much the public care about the issue, that no newspaper today has mocked the Claws Four plans,” Waugh adds.

The Sun leads on cheaper vet care for poorer families, while the Financial Times takes on the proposed ban on foie gras. The Daily Telegraph highlights the proposal to give renters the right to have a pet, while The Times highlights the plan to force motorists to report when they have hit a cat.

Describing the proposals as “a smart move” The Guardian’s Abi Wilkinson believes Labour’s focus on animal welfare could see the party win new support. But not everyone is convinced.

“By using animal rights for political capital, Labour runs the risk of denigrating political debate,” says The Independent’s Kirsty Major. “Let’s talk about animal rights once we’ve secured fundamental human rights.”

Is this a smart move for Labour?

Labour may be hoping to upstage Environment Secretary Michael Gove who has made a series of animal welfare announcements to woo younger voters, says The Times.

Gove has proposed a raft of animal welfare policies to repair damage incurred to the Conservative party during the general election campaign. The Tories dropped their pledge for a total ban on ivory trading and Theresa May has wobbled ever since about whether fox hunting should remain illegal.

A report about Tories voting that animals “could not feel pain or emotions” sparked an intense social media backlash. Gove published a draft bill recognising animals, including wild ones, as sentient. The bill was seen to rule out any possibility of reversing the fox-hunting ban.

Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman has been withering about Gove’s conversion to the cause of tackling plastic in the seas after he said he was “haunted” by watching Blue Planet II.

She told HuffPost that Labour’s strong track record contrasts with the Tories’ recent announcements: “Unlike Michael Gove, we’re not swayed to develop policy after the last BBC documentary we’ve seen. The Tories so-called commitment to animal welfare is as disposable as the coffee cups Gove wants to replace.”

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