Will our vote make a difference for wildlife? Yes.

The General Election will take place on 4 July. Over the years, the Tories have effectively declared war on Britain’s wildlife. But are the other parties any better? Protect the Wild takes a look at their manifestos, and whether they pledge to defend animals.

The latest polls give Labour a clear lead, with the Conservatives still on the downwards trajectory started after the disastrous mini-budget of the Liz Truss ‘government’. Meanwhile, Nigel Farage’s Reform Party seems set to gain a significant number of votes that would have previously gone to the Tories (though without that translating into MPs in Parliament in the UK’s ‘first past the post’ electoral system). The Liberal Democrats appear to be gaining votes from the Tories slightly (just as they did in May’s local elections), while the Green Party, Scotland’s SNP and Wales’ Plaid Cymru appear set to receive their usual amount of support (though tactical voting may come in to play in some areas).

When it comes to the welfare of wild animals, each parties’ manifesto is vague. Unsurprisingly, the Green Party’s pledges are the strongest, while Labour has made some crucial promises, which we will outline.

One thing is certain – that in order to protect animals, we need to get the Tories out. It goes without saying that if voters switch their vote from the Tories to Reform it will make little difference to the welfare of animals (though that is probably an issue of almost no interest to such voters anyway).

Below is a brief outline of where parties stand on key topics that Protect the Wild campaigns on.


fox hunting

Hunting with dogs

Unsurprisingly, the Tories have stated that they will make no changes to the Hunting Act 2004, stating that they will “always seek to preserve and enhance the rural way of life.” We know that the Hunting Act was deliberately weakened with numerous loopholes – such as so-called trail hunting – to allow hunting foxes, deer, hare, mink and otters to continue as usual. With the legislation working in favour of hunts, it’s little wonder that the Tories are content with it.

The Green Party’s manifesto has a section called Protecting Animals. Its stance on hunting is brief but clear: Green MPs will push for “a ban on all blood sports, including trail hunting.” Like Scottish politicians, who passed the Hunting With Dogs (Scotland) Act in 2023, the Greens are paying attention – recognising that to truly ban the hunting of foxes and other animals, we need to close all loopholes by making them illegal too.

Labour, too, is very brief on hunting, but clearly states: “We will ban trail hunting…” The party had previously announced back in February that it would ban hunting with dogs and close all loopholes. The hunting industry has been doing its best to lobby Labour candidates, trying to convince them that the party shouldn’t touch the Hunting Act. Its attempt to hoodwink Labour that trail hunting is harmless, legitimate fun must be challenged at every step.

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto is weak – and doesn’t even mention hunting with dogs.

Nigel Farage has always supported fox hunting so unsurprisingly Reform has vowed to “protect country sports” in the Agriculture section of its frankly bonkers “Contract with You“, which allegedly sets out the reforms that “Britain needs in the first 100 days following a general election”.


The badger cull

Labour previously stated that it would end the badger cull, and, positively, its manifesto also says as much. It states:

we will work with farmers and scientists on measures to eradicate Bovine TB, protecting livelihoods, so that we can end the ineffective badger cull.”

The key word here is “ineffective”, as Protect the Wild explained in a previous article. The party will not be able to issue cull licences if it gets into power, having publically acknowledged that killing badgers to control bTB doesn’t actually work.

The Conservative Party has decimated England’s badger population through its ten-year cull. If it were to stay in power, it would likely oversee the killing of 100% of the mammals at a targeted, local level indefinitely. On 29 May, Defra stated that it would leave “a decision on this policy to the incoming government after the election.” It is highly likely that if elected, the Tories would continue to appease the NFU at the expense of badgers’ lives.

The Green Party, meanwhile, has stated that its MPs will push for “an end to badger culling.” The party has always been vocal about wanting to stop the cull, stating:

Badger culling doesn’t work. Thousands upon thousands of badgers are being killed for no reason whatsoever.”

While not specifically mentioning whether it would put a stop to the Tories’ culling of badgers, the Lib Dems has stated that it will develop “safe, effective, humane, and evidence-based ways of controlling bovine tuberculosis, including by investing to produce workable vaccines.” It hasn’t stated what “evidence-based” means – after all, the Tories also state that its mass murder of badgers is ‘evidence-based’ when it is actually based on bad science.

The Reform Party says nothing in its manifesto about the badger cull or bovine tuberculosis.

Dead pheasants hung from a railing


The Green Party has stated in its manifesto that it will push to end all bloodsports, which would include grouse, pheasant and partridge shooting. The party has previously been very vocal about grouse shooting, with Scottish Greens’ rural affairs minister, Ariane Burgess MSP, saying in 2023:

There is nothing glorious or humane about the 12th of August. It is a festival of violence. Far too much of our land is given to this cruel and outdated hobby.”

She continued:

“The intensive burning and degradation of our landscapes to try and improve the habitat for red grouse so that there are more of them to be shot is unnecessary, and damages the local environment and our climate.”

A common practice of the grouse shooting industry is to burn peat moors in order for fresh heather – food for grouse – to grow. The Lib Dems have stated that it will restore our damaged peatlands as a carbon store, while banning the “routine burning of heather on peatlands.”

Labour says nothing in its manifesto about the shooting industry (though as shooting lobbyists BASC proudly crowed the Party gave a clear endorsement of “sustainable shooting conducted according to the law” in October 2023) or about the burning of peat moors for grouse killing, and nor do the Conservatives. Presumably the mass slaughter of birds for fun would fall under Reform’s support for ‘country sports’.



Snare-laying is the shooting industry’s gruesome tactic to rid its shooting estates of wild animals such as foxes. Wales has already banned snare use, as has Scotland. Labour has stated in its manifesto that it will end the use of snare traps in England – great news for wildlife.

Unsurprisingly, the Tories say nothing in their 80-page manifesto about banning snares, nor do the Lib Dems or Reform. Surprisingly, the Green Party doesn’t mention snares either. But when Scotland’s ban on snares was passed, the Scottish Greens’ Ariane Burgess stated:

“This vote is a huge step forward for Scotland’s iconic wildlife and a massive victory for the animal rights campaigners who have long called for it.”


Vote the Tories out

The Green Party is far ahead of the other parties when it comes to animal protection, and it has even pledged to ban factory farming. Labour has pledged to ban hunting with dogs, as well as the use of snares by the shooting industry, and it has also stated that the badger cull is ineffective.

  • With news headlines stating that even the far-right Reform – which ignores animal welfare policies and wants to turn over the countryside to landowners and ‘sportsmen’ – is now overtaking the Tories in the polls, it is tempting to prematurely celebrate that wildlife might finally be getting a break. Labour seems certain to win, and if it keeps its promises, we might finally see the implementation of laws that actually address animal suffering – but we will need to be just as relentless in our campaigning after the election as we were before it…