Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

LETTERS: Animal suffering versus human homelessness

From Mr Alan Clark Sir: When people characterise an activity of which they disapprove as "juvenile", it is usually a sign that their own outlook has atrophied. Are Polly Toynbee's matronly strictures ("A spasm masquerading as a movement", 25 January) against those who demonstrate in the cause of animal welfare tainted with envy - at the level of commitment, and achievement, which she herself, over a lifetime of cosy bourgeois dissent, has never approached?

When Tony Banks MP (an inveterate political opponent of mine) and I combined with Mark Glover of Respect for Animals to launch this campaign last July, our stated intention (which Ms Toynbee apparently finds so objectionable) was that it should actually draw strength by having "little to do with conventional Left/Right divisions". Since then all the major ferry companies have suspended the trade; most of the superstores no longer stock "white" veal; two airports and two small marine outlets have effectively been shut down. This is hardly a "spasm".

Ms Toynbee states (on what authority? Owning a villa in Tuscany?) that it is "making us a laughing stock in Europe". Were she to peruse the minutes of this week's EU Agriculture Council she would learn that there is now a majority for the abolition of veal crates.

Of course you can always raise a cheap laugh by mocking vegetarians. But these convictions are based on indignation at the interplay of cruelty and profit - whether in the meat trade or the "testing" laboratory.

Yours faithfully, ALAN CLARK Saltwood Castle Kent 26 January