ASA bans animal charity ad over donations issue

Advert that suggests donations to livestock in Afghanistan ultimately benefit British Troops withdra

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an ad for an animal protection charity working in Afghanistan, as it appeared to suggest that donations to save livestock ultimately benefited British troops.

The advertisement was for the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (Spana), which is in support of saving livestock belonging to farmers in Helmand province. Its headline read, "saving her life means his just got easier", followed by a photo of an Afghan man, a donkey and a British soldier.

It claimed that for many Afghan families, the well-being of their animals can make a difference to their lives, and somebody who loses their livelihood is likely to be drawn into conflict. The ad concluded, "ultimately, our brave British servicemen and women can benefit from the care which you help us provide."

The ASA banned the ad, saying it should not be published in its current form, after receiving two complaints that the claims were offensive and encouraged donations for British troops.

However, Spana said the campaign was part of an initiative to win over local farmers to make them less susceptible to the influence of the Taliban. It believes that its work is beneficial to British troops and added that the Ministry of Defence had approved the ad before it was published.

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.