Animal rights require less bluster

Animal Activists (Letters, 23 April) will serve their cause neither by remaining in denial about missed opportunities nor by parading their supposed moral superiority to meat-eaters. In the past, it was the actions of extremists that set back the cause of respect for animals. Now, the inaction of moderates is having the same effect.

The apparent indifference to The Cull displayed by so many animal activists has fuelled the impression that many of them are callous opportunists, using pretended concern for the suffering of animals to justify the persecution of humans whom they happen to hate. My dealings with them for my NS article of 16 April convinced me that this view is (for the most part) mistaken. However, if they are to prevail, they will need to work harder to empathise with those who do not already share their outlook.

To suggest that our mighty pro-animal movement lacks the means to capitalise on The Cull is disingenuous. A mistake has been made. Activists should be learning the lessons, rather than blustering.

David Cox
London SW11

This article first appeared in the 30 April 2001 issue of the New Statesman, How new Labour wrestled with a world it never made