• RSPB taken over by hard-Left activists
• Controversial political intervention via X account
• RSPB Chief Executive unable to explain actions
This week, the RSPB, one of Britain’s largest charities, sparked controversy with a series of social media posts attacking Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove, and Therese Coffey, branding them “LIARS!” The posts, which had the appearance of party-political attack adverts, were circulated by Daniel Carey-Dawes, the charity’s Government Affairs Manager and a self-professed “lifelong Labour voter”.
Carey-Dawes was joined by several other Labour activists in amplifying the tweets, including Alastair Campbell, Caroline Lucas, and Jim McMahon. While the charity issued an apology, Chief Executive Beccy Speight is refusing to take them down, claiming that removal could have drawn more attention to them.
Further investigation reveals that the posts were likely the work of a team of senior designers and writers within the charity, as evidenced by the quick reposting of Jeff Knott, the RSPB’s director of policy and advocacy, and Ghazala Koosar, a hard-Left lawyer on the charity’s board of Trustees. Koosar is a prolific user of social media, often supporting Jeremy Corbyn, attacking the Government, and pushing conspiracy theories.
The controversy has raised questions about the political leanings of the charity, and whether it is allowed to partake in political activism. Charities are prohibited by law from running political campaigns, and must remain non-partisan in the process.
The RSPB’s actions this week have called into question their ability to abide by this requirement.
The controversial political intervention by the RSPB this week via its X account – branding Government Ministers “LIARS!” – is the result of the takeover of the bird charity by a cabal of hard-Left activists, says Guy Adams in the Mail. Here’s an excerpt.
Daniel Carey-Dawes is a 35-year-old Labour activist who has devoted much of his adult life to the cause, spending four years as the party’s constituency secretary in his native Hackney and five years as its research and support officer at London’s City Hall.
He stood, unsuccessfully, as a Labour council candidate in 2010, spent a couple of years as PA to the Corbynist London Assembly member Jennette Arnold and, according to his profile on the social network site LinkedIn, also “developed policy” which “formed part of Sadiq Khan’s manifesto”.
This week, Carey-Dawes, who describes himself as a “lifelong Labour voter”, was found to be helping advance the party’s agenda via his current day job.
On Wednesday he used X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to help his employer circulate a highly controversial series of social media posts calling Rishi Sunak and two senior Tory ministers “LIARS!”
The messages looked, and read, like party-political attack adverts. They featured a sinister black and white image of the Prime Minister alongside his housing secretary Michael Gove and DEFRA supremo Therese Coffey. “LIARS!” was rubber-stamped across it in blood-red text.
“You lie, and you lie, and you lie again. And we’ve had enough,” they proclaimed, before listing, in a further 11 similarly designed tweets, occasions when the trio supposedly told untruths about environmental policy.
Carey-Dawes gleefully re-tweeted this series of posts to his thousand-odd followers at lunchtime on Wednesday, moments after they had been uploaded to his employer’s account. He then added his own commentary, writing: “Sometimes in campaigning, you just have to call a spade a spade.”
The messages, attacking a government proposal to axe EU rules on housebuilding, were also gleefully circulated by, among others, Tony Blair’s former spin-doctor Alastair Campbell, the Green MP Caroline Lucas, and shadow environment secretary Jim McMahon, who reckoned they provided evidence we are in “the dying days of a Government devoid of ideas to make the county better”.
At this point, you may be wondering what division of the Labour Party was paying this young propagandist’s wages. But Carey-Dawes doesn’t work for His Majesty’s Opposition any more. Not officially, at least.
Since May he’s earned his crust as Government Affairs Manager for one of Britain’s largest charities: the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. It was this organisation, rather than his beloved Labour Party, that used Twitter to publish the ad hominem attack on Sunak, Gove and Coffey.
The trouble is that charities, which enjoy tax-free status, are prohibited by law from running political campaigns. While perfectly entitled to comment on matters of public policy – provided they affect a particular charitable remit – these wealthy organisations must remain resolutely non-partisan in the process. What they are not supposed to do is behave like a provisional wing of the Labour Party, abusing ministers to help score points.
The charity soon apologised – but it didn’t delete the tweets.
Amid growing controversy, the RSPB’s chief executive Beccy Speight made an appearance this week on Radio 4’s Today programme. During what many regarded as a car-crash interview, the £190,000-a-year boss appeared to have little grip on her organisation, claiming she hadn’t approved the contentious Twitter thread, saying it “didn’t go through our normal protocols”.
She added: “We do believe the nature of public discourse does matter. We campaign on policy not on people, so the framing of that tweet where we called out individual people we felt was incorrect and inappropriate and we apologise for that.”
Carey-Dawes deleted his “call a spade a spade” tweet but Speight is refusing to take down the RSPB’s original offending posts. She argues — laughably, given that it continues to be viewed by tens of thousands of people every hour — that “removing it could have drawn more attention to it”.
While the Chief Executive seems to have little clue how the RSPB came to call senior ministers “LIARS!” there can be little doubt the posts were the work of a team of senior designers and writers within the charity.
After all, five minutes after the Twitter thread had been posted, the RSPB’s director of policy and advocacy Jeff Knott, a Left-leaning conservationist who had lobbied against Brexit, could be found angrily re-posting his employer’s contentious tweets.
Knott alleged that Sunak, Gove and Coffey were caught up in a tale of “Lies, damn lies and nutrient neutrality” (referring to the issue of whether housing developments ought to be blocked if they add to nitrate levels in local rivers).
Also amplifying the tweets was Ghazala Koosar, a hard-Left lawyer on the charity’s board of Trustees, who reposted within minutes of publication and has yet to delete them from her Twitter feed.
Koosar is a prolific user of the social network, with typical posts including support for Jeremy Corbyn, attacks on the Government’s stewardship of the NHS and conspiracy theories suggesting think-tanks based in Tufton Street, Westminster, have a “malign grip on Sunak’s government”.
Worth reading in full.
Read J. Sorel’s take for the Daily Sceptic here.