Society Diary: Terrible cat puns and poor poppy hot takes

09 Nov 2018 Voices

It was this pawticular cat wot got the cream

Happy Friday everybody. The nights are fast closing in now, and the supermarkets have rolled out their “festive” selections of meal deal sandwiches, so it’s fair to say that the end (of the year) is nigh!

This week in charity sector satire: Battersea announces the winner of the much anticipated Purr Minister 2018 title; The Girl Scouts of America are suing the Boy Scouts of America; another November, another Poppygate and the Football Association goes after Wayne Rooney’s charitable foundation. 

Paw the many, not fur the few

First this week, to Westminster, and Battersea’s announcement that Alfie - a cat owned By Ann Clwyd, Labour MP for Cynon Valley – has won the coveted title of Purr Minister 2018, which is a charity-run competition to find the best cat in parliament.

It was Clwyd’s moxy moggie who swept the field, picking up 34 per cent of the popular vote for this year’s title ahead of seven other MP’s furtive felines. It’s good to see that, in Battersea’s idea of a democracy anyway, that the popular vote still counts for something. 

This story is obviously of interest to Society Diary for a number of reasons. The predominant one being that, as happens every year, the winning MP gives a statement as part of the press release and, obviously, the statement is riddled with awful cat puns. 

This year is, needless to say, no different.

Over to you Ann:

“I’m so happy that Alfie’s dedication to the campaign has paid off. I know that he’ll get straight to work on his manifursto – what’s impawtant to his voters is what’s impawtant to him. We want to say thank you to everyone who voted to elect him Battersea’s Purr Minister 2018 and he promises not to let anyone down.”

‘Manifursto’. ‘Impawtant’. Seriously, hook this kind of content directly to Diary’s veins. 

Speaking of Alfie’s ‘manifursto’, it’s worth having a look at, because it’s got some great… pawlicies. As per the press release: “Alfie persuaded his peers with his ‘Manifursto’ which promised purrtection for cats by making it compulsory to report cat deaths on roads, purrmoting Lucy’s Law for cats and dogs – particularly in Wales - and a purrmanent amnesty for mice, squirrels and birds on Sundays.”

Rob Young, head of catteries at Battersea, said: “Massive congratulations to the newly elected Purr Minister, Alfie. This whiskered winner did a meow-vellous job campaigning for greater cat pawlicies. We look forward to seeing him represent moggies across the country. We think he’s going to be purrfect.”

So. Many. Bad. Cat. Puns. 

Scout’s honour

To the USA briefly now, and the news that the Girl Scouts of America have just filed a lawsuit again the Boy Scouts of America over apparent copyright infringement. 

Yes this Brownie-related brouhaha has been bubbling away since last October, when the Boy Scouts announced it would be allowing girls to join. The decision was “strongly decried” by the Girl Scouts, and its president Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, who accused the Boy Scouts’ president at the time, Randall Stephenson, of carrying out a “covert campaign” to recruit girls.

Surely it’s not covert if you tell 300 million people what you're doing, but that’s neither here nor there. 

Anyway, as with most matters legal, there's actually quite a long and complicated story here. It seems a Boy Scouts decision to use the word ‘Scout’ in a recent campaign without gendering it has finally prompted the lawsuit. 

Diary wonders if the Girl Scouts were hoping to catch the Boy Scouts on the hop. But no. It seems they were prepared. I guess for the Girl Scouts, that's just the way the cookie crumbles.

Galaxy Brain Bastani

So, it’s November in the UK and, you all know what that means; if you haven't plastered giant poppies over everything you own, some tool will come out of the woodwork and accuse you of being a pinko traitor quisling.

Seriously, Waterloo Station, take a look at yourselves. There's no need to attach a poppy to a hawk. 

Anyway, while Diary doesn’t entirely understand the annual outbreak of poppy-related hysteria which seems to grip much of the media and the country every November, it can at least understand that at its heart, the Poppy Appeal is one of the UK’s most historically successful fundraising campaigns. When one leaves aside the politics, it’s really just a charity trying to help its beneficiaries, and we can all get behind that. 

Well, everyone it would seem, except a chap called Aaron Bastani. 

Now, Bastani is the co-founder of Novara Media, which describes itself as “new media for a different politics”. And that different politics is quite often the Corbynista wing of the Labour Party. 

Anyway, long story short, your boy Bastani took to Twitter the other day to air his personal take on the Poppy Appeal. 

Yep, he basically called for the Royal British Legion to be disbanded and the millions and millions of pounds worth of income be given directly to the “13,000 homeless veterans” in the UK – a figure he seems to have arrived at after a - shall we say - somewhat heroic calculation by a small charity.

Bastani has since been dogpiled by just about everybody on Twitter; from policy officers from sector umbrella bodies; membership groups and trade journalists, all the way to Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party. 

Ow, that’s got to hurt. Watson’s gone through the back of Bastani something fierce there. He’s picked him up and popped him in his breast pocket. It's possible he gets to keep him.

To be fair to Aaron Bastani, he certainly hasn’t backed down. Over the last few days he’s since said that “no major problem is solved by charity”, before quoting Clement Attlee that charity is "a cold grey loveless thing".

Now, it may be true that charity - the act of giving money away - has never contributed to solving a major problem. But charities, on the other hand? Diary doesn't know. Universal education? Universal healthcare? The abolition of slavery?

Bastani's not going to let that get in the way, though. He's doubled down again just recently. He's just tweeted that he has a problem with the fact that only two of the nine current RBL executives are veterans themselves.

As one commentator said, let's see how furious he is when he spots who's leading the RSPCA. Spoiler alert, it's not an animal. 

Wayne's World

England’s greatest goal scorer Wayne Rooney faced a backlash from football fans this week after it was announced that a special international match was being arranged for the striker’s charity.

The outrage centred on the fact that it is usually the manager, the world’s-sexiest-waistcoat-wearer Gareth Southgate, who chooses the England squad, not a retired striker who fancies winning another cap (and raising money for the newly-formed Wayne Rooney Foundation).

In the short time since Rooney retired from international football in August last year, the national team has gone on to bigger and better things – recording its best result at a World Cup finals since 1990 while Harry Kane has already surpassed Rooney’s goal-scoring tally at the tournament.

Diary is therefore impressed by Rooney’s inventive method to get back in the team without losing face – by effectively appointing himself as manager and picking himself. All he needs to do is give himself another six caps after the match against the United States on 15 November and he will overtake Peter Shilton to become the country’s record appearances holder.

Diary is less impressed, however, with the Football Association, which has said that the Wayne Rooney Foundation will not actually received any of the gate receipts for the match. Punters will instead be encouraged to donate to the charity on top of their ticket price.


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