During the London elections of May 1st, 2008, the Animal Welfare Party (AWP) (then ‘Animals Count’) became the first political party for the animals to contest a UK election. Launched in 2006 by London-based animal welfare scientist and educator Jasmijn de Boo, the AWP was established to raise the status of animal issues within UK politics. It grew from the successful Dutch Party for the Animals, which was the fastest growing political party in Europe.
The AWP aims to set the standard as the political party advocating most strongly for animals within the UK, whilst also supporting other socially and environmentally responsible policies. It seeks to demonstrate by example, that comprehensive, well-reasoned policies on animal issues are not only possible, but desirable, and can enhance the manifestos of political parties. It has had some success at encouraging the adoption of animal-friendly policies by other parties with a far greater command of political power. Indeed, the potential to positively influence much larger parties offers the greatest potential benefits. Accordingly, the AWP has met various MPs to advocate animal-friendly policies. Additionally, it aims to demonstrate that voters care about animal issues, by directly contesting elections.
Andrew Knight has stood for election as an AWP candidate in four national and European elections. In this presentation he reviews political parties and actions for animals within Europe and abroad; describes the development of the AWP; outlines its main policies; and its strategies for raising the status of animal issues within UK politics.
See also: Animal Welfare Party.