From a purely animal rights point of view there really are not many political parties in the UK worth bothering with. There's only really the Green Party and the Animal Welfare Party (AWP) who are active and have even semi-decent animal rights policies. You can take a look at the Green Party's animal rights policies here: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ar . Both the AWP and the Green Party are standing in the European Parliament elections next May hoping to gain seats. The AWP (under their former name Animals Count) only stood in the Eastern region in the 2009 European election and received 13,201 votes (around 0.8% of the vote). This time round they are committed to standing in the London region, but will not stand in other regions unless they can get hold of enough funding/donations. They say they need 140,000 votes in London to get an MEP elected claiming that there are around 500,000 vegetarians/vegans in London and therefore they only need a small percentage of their votes. It is very unrealistic that they will achieve that quota given that the Green Party only managed to achieve 190,589 votes at the last European election and UKIP only managed 188,440 votes at the last election. The AWP does not have the national, regional or local presence and has not built it's name up enough to achieve that level of success. They need improve their vote by more than 10 times the amount they received in 2009, yet their profile has not significantly grown at all since 2009 and they still no not have a single person elected at any level.
The Green Party's MEPs (Member of European Parliament) have an excellent record when it comes to animals. Every few months the Green MEPs publish a newsletter on the work that they and the Green group in the parliament have been doing to improve things for animals (latest issue can be read here: http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Final-Making-Tracks-Compressed.pdf ). Keith Taylor, MEP for the South East for example worked hard to keep the EU wide ban on the sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals to 2013 when the industry was putting on pressure to delay the ban. Green MEPs worked hard to ensure the ban on battery hens was achieved. The Green group has worked hard to tighten up regulations on fishing so that fishing trawlers do not destroy our oceans. These achievements wouldn't be possible without Green MEPs. Voting for the AWP in London could prevent the Green Party's animal spokesperson Caroline Allen from being elected as she is second on the Green Party list. Being very generous, if the AWP get around 30,000 votes that could be the difference that the Green Party need to getting Caroline Allen elected. In many parts of the country the Greens were just less than 2% away from getting someone elected. In the North West where I am a candidate they were 0.3% away from defeating Nick Griffin.
If more animal advocates voted for the Greens next May it might be that extra amount we need to get a handful of extra MEPs. Since the last Euro elections in 2009 the Greens have grown tremendously, in 2010 Caroline Lucas was elected as the first ever Green MP. In 2011 Brighton & Hove City Council became the first Green-led council ever, which has led to vegan options becoming available in council owned canteens and other places where the council has influence. This year Jenny Jones became the first Green Party politician to be appointed to the House of Lords. We have never had such a great opportunity to make so many gains nationally. Good results in the European elections will do wonders for our chances in the General Election in 2015 when Caroline Lucas is up for re-election as an MP. Caroline Lucas does a lot of great things for animals in parliament. She has fought against the badger cull and has fought for the ban of wild animals being used in circuses amongst other things. If she did not get re-elected it would be a great loss for British politics at a time when people have very little faith in politicians. Well the Greens are something different. We care about the common good. We care about creating a society that benefits the planet and all beings living here, including animals.The very realistic alternative if people don't vote Green is that we will get more UKIP and Labour MEPs and they will not champion animal issues.
Further reading on Green Party animal rights campaigns, especially regarding the European parliament:
- Caroline Allen - Green Party animals spokesperson and 2nd on London European election list: carolineallengreenlondon.blogspot.co.uk
- Greens for Animal Protection: https://www.facebook.com/GreensForAnimalProtection
- Making Tracks - the Green MEPs animal welfare publication Autumn 2013 edition: http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Final-Making-Tracks-Compressed.pdf
- Jean Lambert MEP animal protection page: http://www.jeanlambertmep.org.uk/issue_detail.php?id=2
- Keith Taylor (Green MEP for South East) animal rights page: http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/category/animal-rights/
- Keith Taylor celebrating the EU-wide ban on sale of cosmetic products tested on animals: http://www.greens-efa.eu/stopping-experiments-on-animals-for-cosmetics-9492.html
- The Greens/EFA (the Green group in the European Parliament) animal welfare campaigns: http://www.greens-efa.eu/animal-welfare-44.html