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Liberal Democrats Plot to Oust the BHA in Shocking 2019 Manifesto Pledge

Liberal Democrats LogoAccording to the bookmakers, it’s a 250/1 shot that the Liberal Democrats win the most seats at the UK general election, and 300/1 that they go on to form a majority government.

Highly unlikely? Absolutely. Impossible? Of course not: just ask fans of 5000/1 shots Leicester City when they won the Premier League title in 2015/16.

Whether you think it would be a good idea for the Lib Dems to run the country is up to your personal discretion, but it would certainly have wide-ranging ramifications for a number of industries – not least, according to the party’s manifesto, in horse racing.

They have made the staggering claim that if they got into power they would strip the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) of all responsibility as far as the welfare of horses is concerned.

The party believes it’s a move that would ‘prevent the abuse and avoidable deaths of racehorses’. They have already promised to create and appoint a new independent regulatory body if they were to succeed in the polls on December 12.

In their manifesto, which was released on Wednesday, the Lib Dems asserted their belief that ‘….all possible steps should be taken to promote animal welfare and prevent animal suffering, with better protection for animals, and full regard for animal welfare’.

Naturally, the BHA were rather alarmed to have their integrity questioned, and hit back by claiming that Jo Swinson’s plans would not be able to improve the welfare standards that the group already oversees.

A spokesperson from the BHA said:

“The manifesto proposal from the Liberal Democrats – which is not new and was first adopted by the party at its 2018 conference – would not help to further advance the already high horse welfare standards in place across British racing.

“British racing’s evidence-based approach has already significantly reduced avoidable risk – an approach endorsed by Defra – and we have a clear ambition to reduce this further through our investment in a predictive risk model.

“In addition, the sport’s Horse Welfare Board, independently chaired by the former president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons [Barry Johnson], is developing a comprehensive welfare strategy to further raise welfare standards across the sport and lifetime of the racehorse.”

Liberal….But Only When it Suits

Jo Swinson at Liberal Democrat's Conference
Credit: Jwslubbock, Wikimedia Commons

In a further blow to the industry, they could also be facing a drop in funding from the betting levy if the Liberal Democrats ascend to power.

Amongst many other hot potatoes and talking points in their manifesto, the party has confirmed they would ban punters from betting with their credit cards, in an attempt to curb problem gambling.

That topic has been a controversial one for a number of months since the FOBT stake decreases were brought in, with the Lib Dems confirming that they plan to ‘introduce further measures to protect individuals, their families and communities from problem gambling’.

The measures they are seeking to introduce include a compulsory levy on gambling companies and bookmakers, with the money raised used to fund the research, education and treatment of problem gambling.

They would also look to restrict the amount of betting-related advertising on TV, while introducing a Gambling Ombudsman to oversee the industry and regulate in an even more rigorous fashion.