Labour has announced that any future government led by Jeremy Corbyn would give housing tenants the right to keep a pet, help poorer families with their vet bills and ban live exports of animals for slaughter.
The measures, contained in a 50-point commitment released on Wednesday, are said to aim at proving that Labour is the real “party of animal welfare”.
Other commitments included trengthening the Hunting Act, ending the badger cull, a total ban on foie gras imports, microchipping of cats and enshrining the principle of animal ‘sentience’ in law.
Among the other plans in the policy document, ‘Animal Welfare For The Many, Not The Few’, are:
- mandatory labelling of meat, revealing method of production and slaughter
- an independent zoo inspectorate to draw up revised standards of animal welfare
- requiring motorists to report accidents where an animal has been injured
- compulsory CCTV in all slaughterhouses and a new Animal Welfare Commissioner
- post-Brexit farm subsidies changed to move away from intensive factory farming
- tackling puppy smuggling by reintroducing rabies testing before entry into the UK
- a review of all animal testing with a view to improving practice, limiting animal suffering and increasing transparency
- an end to the use of ‘cages’ on all British farms
- extending the definition of ‘animal’ to include lobsters and squid, requiring stunning rather than boiling in restaurants
Two of the most widely publicised policies appear to be aimed at low-income voters, and pet owners in the rental property market.
Organisations such as the PDSA already provide veterinary assistance to pet owners drawing income support benefits, but Labour now says it will “explore how access to affordable vet care can be expanded”.
With regards tenants who wish to get a pet, under Labour’s plans, which it says it wants to discuss with landlords and tenant bodies, landlords would need to have evidence that an animal was a nuisance for permission to be refused.
Before praising the Labour party as the saviour of pets and the animal kingdom, it’s worth thinking about these policies a little. Having learned their lesson with the fake promise to delete student debts, they’re not going to make the mistake of promising free veterinary care for low-income workers (even if they are electoral targets). It simply wouldn’t be affordable. No, they’ll just talk about it for a while in the hope that you’ll remember the ‘good with animals’ tag and forget to check for details.
Unless the labour party also intends to introduce a law that prevents landlords from ending rental agreements at the end of their 12-month term, allowing tenants a default right to get or keep a pet will only guarantee that anybody getting a pet against their landlord’s wishes will see their tenancy terminated at the first opportunity, with hefty cleaning bills to boot.
We’re pretty sure there are more important things the opposition could be devoting their time to. It’s such a shame that labour now dedicates all its time to thinking up empty slogans, making retractible promises and organising rentamob demonstrations. A good UK government needs a good opposition party, not a permanently electioneering protest party.