Polling reveals millions of Brits put ‘protecting animals from cruelty’ amongst top three most important policies that will influence their votes

Campaigners at party conferences urge politicians to give animal welfare the level of priority the British public expect

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Gabriela Penela/We Animals Media

LONDONOver two-thirds (67%) of the British public think that a political party planning to pass more laws to improve animal welfare and protect animals from cruelty would have ‘the right priorities’, and 71% feel that such policies would reflect their values, according to new constituency-level polling by Focaldata commissioned by animal protection organisations Animal Aid, Compassion In World Farming, FOUR PAWS UK, Humane Society International/UK and the RSPCA. 

Underscoring the strength of support for strong animal welfare legislation amongst the public, the polling reveals that 71% believe that passing good animal welfare laws shows compassion and concern for those who don’t have the power to protect themselves, and almost one in ten (8.6%)  rank ‘whether or not a party will protect animals from cruelty’ as one of the top three most important policies that will influence which party they vote for.

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affiairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “Despite MPs often stating that they typically hear from their constituents about animal welfare issues more than any other issue, we are not yet seeing animal protection being given the priority it so clearly deserves by any of the main political parties. When politicians underestimate the importance many people attach to stopping animal cruelty, it easily becomes a problem for candidates on many doorsteps. There are millions of animals without a voice or vote on the policies that parties offer in their manifestos for the next election, but this poll makes clear that strong commitments towards a more compassionate society will be something that millions of voters are looking for from party leaders.”  

The Government pledged eight specific animal welfare commitments in its 2019 manifesto and has so far delivered on only three. Pledges to ban live exports, prohibit the importation of hunting trophies from endangered species and tackle cruel puppy smuggling are all yet to be passed into new laws. The Government’s 2021 Action Plan for Animal Welfare committed to consider action on a range of other issues including the UK fur trade, the use of cages and crates on farms and mandatory animal welfare food labelling, but progress in all of these areas has stalled during the current parliamentary session. 

Despite the Labour Party publishing a comprehensive—and well supported—animal welfare manifesto in 2019, its newly published National Policy Forum contains only a brief indication of the Party’s ambition to advance new protections for animals, including strengthening the Hunting Act and banning the importation of hunting trophies.   

At its conference last week the Liberal Democrats passed a motion on food and farming which incorporates pledges to benefit animal welfare including ensuring that in international trade deals imports “meet UK environmental, climate and animal welfare standards”. Campaigners at the conference heard that a detailed animal welfare policy paper is planned and may be debated at the Party’s spring conference. 

The polling also reveals: 

  • Answering questions on specific issues of farming and trade: 
    • 63% of respondents feel the Government should bring in legislation to phase out intensive farming to protect the environment and animals;  
    • 77% of respondents agree with the statement ‘when we ban a type of farming in the UK for being too cruel, we should also ban imports of products produced the same way overseas’ while less than a quarter of people (23%) agree with the statement ‘we should not let our trading relationship with other countries be limited by animal welfare concerns.’ 
  • One in ten (10%) of the British public place animal welfare issues in the top five most important issues facing the country at this time, compared to 30% of people placing ‘crime’ in the top five issues, and 42% of people placing ‘climate change’ in the top five. 79% of respondents place ‘the NHS’ in the top five issues. 
  • Almost one in ten (8.6%) people rank ‘whether or not a party will protect animals from cruelty’ as one of the top three most important policies that will influence which party they vote for. 


Notes to editors:

Media contact: Sally Ivens, HSI/UK: sivens@hsi.org 

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