Monday saw Parliamentarians from all parties and members of the animal welfare sector join together to celebrate the launch of the League Against Cruel Sport’s 2015 general election manifesto: “Animals Matter”.
Introducing the Parliamentary reception, the League’s CEO Joe Duckworth, explained the organisation was calling for five main commitments within their manifesto.
These key asks, which include the defence and strengthening of the Hunting Act and an independent inquiry into the commercial shooting industry, would be relatively cheap and easy for the next Government to implement in order to end animal suffering, Duckworth argued.
The League were also calling for a ban on snares, tough action to tackle dog fighting and greater protection for racing greyhounds.
Duckworth went on to detail the next stages in the League’s election activity, which would involve a high street campaign and the questioning of all prospective parliamentary candidates on their position regarding certain animal welfare issues.
Throughout Duckworth’s discourse he stressed the helpless nature of animals and their incredible vulnerability to human activity; a sentiment carried on by the next speaker, Caroline Dinenage MP.
The Conservative member for Gosport detailed the great proportion of constituency queries which were animal welfare focused, ranging from wild animals in circuses to Harvey’s law. These issues, she said, and the way in which MPs approached them, would influence the electorate’s judgement.
As someone who was raised in the countryside, Dinenage opposed the viewpoint that those who were anti-hunting were ‘townies’ who didn’t understand the complexity of the matter. However, whilst not undermining their importance, she also stressed the need to move on from issues such as fox-hunting.
In her closing remarks she focused on the good work the Government had already undertaken, particularly in strengthening legislation around dangerous dogs, wildlife crime and the illegal ivory trade.
Reiterating many of Dinenage’s points, Vice-President of the League and Labour MP for Bristol East, Kerry McCarthy, told the attendees about her volunteer work with the organisation.
She went on to echo previous comments on the importance of animal well-being during the election period, referencing a 2014 YouGov poll which found that 14 per cent of respondents highlighted animal welfare as a defining issue on how they would vote.
It was very easy for people to ridicule those passionate about the sector McCarthy said, but the reality was gruesome and cruel beyond imagination. The topic should not be used as a battleground by party politics she concluded, but instead interest and effective action in animal welfare should be driven by human compassion.
Former head of public affairs at the RSPCA, Baroness Parminter, was the third speaker of the event and began by praising the League for their work in “giving a voice to the voiceless”.
The organisation was crucial in helping politicians to garner evidence and document animal suffering she suggested, thereby enabling them to effect the change in legislation needed.
The Liberal Democrats would only be producing one manifesto the Baroness clarified, but there would be a strong section covering domestic, scientific, farm and wildlife aspects of animal welfare.
Duckworth concluded the speeches by emphasising the League did not regard May 2015 as their work’s horizon, the charity would continue to fight hard during the next parliament as well.