Why is the Queen lending the monarchy’s good name to a hard-left animal rights organisation which is now apparently more interested in harrying pet owners, persecuting fox hunters and criticising meat eaters than it is in its traditional role of saving stray cats and lost dogs and worn-out seaside donkeys?
I’m referring, of course, to the Royal Society For the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals (RSPCA) which – like so many charitable institutions in the fields of the environment or animal welfare – appears to have been taken over by extremists.
Further evidence of this emerged at the RSPCA’s recent annual meeting in which grassroot members voted overwhelmingly for it to take a more militant stance.
Thanks to minutes leaked to the Times, we know that a motion demanding that the RSPCA’s “new radical impetus must not be allowed to falter in the face of forces inimical to change within and outside the society” was passed by 59 votes to 4.
Among the radicals’ targets was the RSPCA’s Freedom Food accreditation scheme, which is designed to improve the welfare of livestock. Affiliates of the scheme include McDonalds which, in Britain, now uses only pork which is Freedom Food certified.
Irene Barker, the proposer, singled out Freedom Food as a blot on the charity’s record. “The RSPCA has no business sanitising death on this industrial scale,” she said. “If society tolerates this slaughter so they can eat meat, that is a choice that society makes . . . but let’s not in the name of compassion and logic deodorise the business by claiming that Freedom Food in any way changes that dark truth. It is essential that the society examines with a clear eye its weakness and is ready to change.”
Peta Watson-Smith, seconding the motion, said 38 million male chicks were condemned to be gassed and macerated live each year, while every 12 seconds a pig has its throat cut in a British abattoir. She said: “Regrettably the RSPCA cannot claim it protects farm animals while it condones slaughter through its ownership of Freedom Food, a company that assures lives that ended in slaughter.”She urged the charity to sell Freedom Food and divert the cash into prosecuting more “farm and slaughterhouse owners, managers and workers”.
And it’s not as though the RSPCA wasn’t pretty extreme already. Last year it was investigated by the Charity Commission over its bullying tactics, including, allegedly, its harrassment of a barrister and a vet who had appeared for the defence in several of the numerous prosecutions brought by the RSPCA, and of one of its former inspectors who was driven to suicide (tweeting before she died that the RSPCA had “ruined” her life).
As Melissa Kite reported in the Spectator last year, it’s as if – under its (now retired) activist chief executive Gavin Grant – the once well-loved national treasure of an institution had been taken over by J Edgar Hoover.
Dozens of ordinary householders have been convicted, fined and even tagged for offences such as killing squirrels in their gardens, or not arranging adequate veterinary care for a sick pet. Those animal owners who fall foul of the RSPCA include the elderly, sick, bewildered or poor. Some of the prosecutions have been little short of farcical. Householders who kill garden pests have been convicted on the basis that the only humane way to dispatch a squirrel is to take it to the vets for a £70 lethal injection. Worse, there is a growing suspicion that not all RSPCA evidence of cruelty is what it seems. The grisly pictures of dead sheep allegedly put out of their misery at the port of Ramsgate last September have led some veterinary experts to question how the RSPCA and Defra agents managed to get blood spattered up walls when destroying the animals by captive bolt gun which should not have produced much blood at all.
A separate investigation by BBC Radio 4’s Face The Facts found that only the Crown Prosecution Service takes more cases to court than the RSPCA. It also emerged that the RSPCA has somehow managed to gain itself access to the Police National Computer, despite being a private charity and not – contrary to its aggressive prosecution policy – a branch of the state.
The pity is that the Queen has no power to remove the “Royal” from the RSPCA’s title. The Royal Charter was granted it by Queen Victoria and it can only be rescinded by an act of parliament.
You do wonder, though, whether the time hasn’t come for the Queen to consider her position as this repellant organisation’s patron. Royal duty is one thing – and yes the Queen, like most of the nation, is an animal lover. But there’s a big difference between liking animals and endorsing the animal-rights fascism which the RSPCA increasingly seems to embody.
The RSPCA campaigns to ban the Grand National which the Queen, as a racing nut, adores.
It campaigns against fox-hunting which was the favourite weekend activity of half the royal family till Tony Blair went and made it illegal.
It’s now turning its sights on meat which most normal people – including, so far as I’m aware, all members of the royal family up to the Queen – recognise is delicious, life-enhancing and one of the main reasons we humans were capable of evolving into the superior species we are today rather than languishing on the plains with the rest of the dumb herbivores waiting to be eaten by fanged predators.
Not only is the RSPCA out of control, but with an annual war chest in excess of £132 million (none of it which goes on the design of its rebarbatively tacky website, clearly) to spend on harassing ordinary people for “crimes” like squirrel abuse and magpie murder it is dangerously out of control.
At the very least it ought to be stamped with a health warning, so that no more innocent, kitten-loving old dears are gulled into boosting its bloated coffers with their legacies. “RSPCA” the warning should say. “No longer for people who love animals; just for people who hate humans.”