U.K. Party Would Ban Horse, Dog Races

If the Green Party of the U.K. and Wales takes power in the upcoming election, it may work to ban all horse and greyhound racing, according to reports. Party leader Natalie Bennett has promised a “complete review” of the sports. Voters will decide in May.

Party calls racing exploitative

The U.K.’s Green Party could ban all horse and greyhound racing if it wins next month’s election, says national party leader Natalie Bennett. The horse racing industry, often referred to as “the sport of kings,” is worth £3.4 billion (US$5 billion) to the economy, according to the Argus and is responsible for some 17,000 full-time jobs.

“What we want to do is a whole range of issues dealing with animal protection,” Bennett said. “I can give you an exclusive preview of our manifesto which says we want a complete review of all horse and greyhound racing. There’s a whole range of broader issues around animal protection here that we really need to talk about.”

The Greens also say they will impose a “high level of compulsory levy” on all betting. Sussex County horse trainer Jim Best called the proposed changes “outrageous.”

“I don’t know what planet Natalie Bennett is on,” he said, “but wherever it is I don’t want a ticket to it. People have been involved in racing for years and years. We love our horses, we take good care of them and we are dedicated to their welfare.”

Newsweek reported that the party has called for a “peaceful political revolution” that also would end university tuition fees, cancel all student debt, and spend £85 billion (US$126 billion) on a public environmental program. The party also wants to raise the minimum wage, in part through a so-called “Robin Hood tax” on financial transactions.

Robin Mounsey of the British Horse Racing Authority said of an estimated 1 million horses in Britain, “racehorses are among the healthiest and best looked after 2 percent of horses in the country” with welfare standards that “by far exceed those of animal welfare legislation.”

Damian McBride, former advisor to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said the Green Party also wants to ban the historic Grand National race. “This is surely proof that they are Maoist infiltrators hell-bent on destroying the British way of life,” he said.