What do the General Election manifestos say about animals?

In just a matter of weeks the 2017 snap General Election will be upon us.

At IFAW, we’re just as excited as everyone else when the party manifestos get published, but our search for key information may not be the same! We head straight to the pages about animals and the environment.

Whilst the UK is really strong in some areas for animals and the environment, in others we fall behind – letting so-called tradition, influential interest groups or just plain lack of drive get in the way of really standing up for animals. So what does this Election hold for animals and what are the manifestos really saying about them? Let’s look at the three main parties to see what they have in store for animals!

As a caveat, naturally we always encourage everyone to read the manifestos in full for themselves – they always contain a wealth of policy information on all kinds of critical issues and everyone has their own priorities and areas of interest that they need to think about when choosing who to vote for. You can find the full manifestos by clicking on the links below.

Conservatives: Forward Together

The Conservative Manifesto makes a pledge to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it, with a 25 Year Environment Plan suggesting an improvement on environmental legislation post Brexit. There is also a pledge to continue to lead international action against climate change, and the degradation of habitat and loss of species. Plus, there is a general note about continuing to take action to improve animal welfare and making CCTV in slaughterhouses mandatory. IFAW works tirelessly to protect species and habitats around the world, and our work fighting illegal wildlife trade and our landscape work in places such as India, Africa and beyond, is a core part of what we do.

Things are slightly different in Scotland, with the Scottish Conservative’s Manifesto mentioning no plans for repeal of the Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, highlighting that the Act “has recently been reviewed and Lord Bonomy’s report is a largely balanced attempt to provide greater accountability and clarity around the law, which we welcome. We have no plans to revisit the Act beyond these recommendations.”

Labour: For the Many, Not the Few

Labour’s Manifesto supports our campaign to prohibit the third party sales of puppies. With regards to British wildlife, the manifesto pledges to end the badger cull and maintain the ban on fox hunting. It also promises to introduce a total ban on ivory trading. IFAW is actively fighting for a ban on domestic ivory sales in the UK and across the EU. We know that while there is any kind of legal market, illegal activity can be masked. We are strongly against the badger cull and want to maintain, and indeed strengthen, the ban on hunting with hounds. The current legislation is strong, but too many loopholes exist which are constantly exploited by some hunts.

In Labour’s Scottish Manifesto, they mention the strengthening of the Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, noting “and only Labour would enhance the law and guarantee enforcement in Scotland.”

Liberal Democrats: Change Britain’s Future

The Liberal Democrats’ Manifesto talks of the desire to “Develop safe, effective, humane and evidence-based ways of controlling bovine TB, including by investing to produce workable vaccines.” Although there’s no mention of ending the badger cull, IFAW has long questioned the validity of the science currently being used to justify the badger cull. The Lib Dems also mention that they will “provide greater resources for international environmental co-operation, particularly on climate change and on actions to tackle illegal and unsustainable trade in timber, wildlife, ivory and fish.” Plus there is mention of steps to tackle illegal pet imports.

The Green Party: Green Guarantee

The Greens' Manifesto focuses on the environment, rather than individual species. They pledge to develop “An Environmental Protection Act to safeguard and restore our environment, protect and enhance biodiversity, promote sustainable food and farming, and ensure animal protection.” One of IFAW’s key priorities post Brexit will be to ensure that the many environmental and animal welfare related pieces of legislation from EU Directives at worse stay intact and at best are enhanced.

The SNP: Stronger for Scotland

The Scottish National Party’s (SNP) Manifesto focuses on hunting and climate change in light of Brexit and associated legislation. With regards to fox hunting, they pledge to ‘oppose any relaxation of the laws on fox-hunting.’ In relation to climate change and the environment, they state: ‘SNP MPs will work to prevent the threat of Brexit being used by the UK to reduce commitments to tackle climate change or to undermine the European Union’s efforts to fight climate change and protect the environment.’ IFAW will continue to fight any threat of repeal or weakening of the Hunting Act and do not wish to see a return to cruelty. As mentioned previously, we will work tirelessly regardless of the election result to ensure that environmental and animal welfare directives migrated from the EU post Brexit are maintained or strengthened. 

UKIP: Britain Together

UKIP’s Manifesto focuses heavily on farm animal welfare, an area that falls outside of IFAW’s scope. Within the Manifesto, UKIP calls for a ban on live exports for fattening and slaughter, CCTV in abattoirs, the banning of kosher and halal slaughter by unqualified individuals in unregulated premises and meat labelling to identify the method of slaughter. The also make a call to ‘tightly regulate animal testing, and continually challenge companies concerned regarding its necessity’ and to ‘triple the maximum jail sentences for animal cruelty’, with lifetime bans on owning and/or looking after animals on any individual or company convicted of animal cruelty. They also pledge to keep the ban on animal testing for cosmetics. IFAW supports any strengthening of legislation or sentencing for animal cruelty. Our work to drive awareness of the hidden horrors of the puppy trade highlights the fact that many puppy breeders and traders put animal welfare far behind profit. 

All of the manifestos touch on many of our key campaigns. As an organisation whose sole purpose exists to protect animals and wildlife, we’re naturally disappointed when promises aren’t as explicit as they could be, or if manifesto pledges contradict our campaign asks. But, after many years we are very pragmatic - we will work with any elected government to ensure that animals get the best possible outcome!


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Jimmiel Mandima at IFAW
Deputy Vice President of Conservation
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime