Third Sector at Large: For once, these fat cats deserve charity support and sympathy

Plus: chattering chatterati, Cameron's cold feet on alcohol unit pricing and a conference in Israel

An overweight moggy
An overweight moggy

This month's fat cats, for a change, aren't charity chief executives (calm down – that's a joke) but the real live miaowing variety.

They're among 17 obese animals entered in the annual Pet Fit Club run by the veterinary charity the PDSA. One of the mogs, Boycus, even elbows the family dog off his dinner. There's also a Rottweiler that weighs 13 stone – more than a super middleweight boxer – and a cocker spaniel that has apparently been mistaken for a panda by Chinese tourists. In 10 years of the competition, the PDSA says, pet slimmers have lost the equivalent of 384 bags of sugar or 500 blocks of lard. Ugh.

"The politicos will politic, the chatterati can chat, the media may opine, the knights will joust, but here at the institute we have been rapidly taking forward what will really make a difference." Wow – it's not every day you read such a startling peroration in a news release. It came from Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, in response to the assertion by Sir Stuart Etherington of the NCVO that self-regulation of fundraising isn't working. The unusual lyricism might be explained by the fact that the release was written hours after the convivial NCVO annual dinner. Note the reference to the spiky relationship between Etherington and Sir Stephen Bubb of Acevo.

Another drink-related story at the NCVO conference came from Emily Robinson, deputy chief executive of Alcohol Concern, who said that in 2013 David Cameron had all but agreed to legislate for a minimum unit price for alcohol. Then came the resignation of the Liberal Democrat minister Chris Huhne and the resultant Eastleigh by-election when Ukip (prop. Nigel Farage, partial to a pint) was pushing hard: Cameron got cold feet, said Robinson, and the Lib Dems duly held on. "I blame Chris Huhne," she added.

The recent Herzliya Conference in Israel, a key annual forum for the debate of Middle Eastern issues, listed William Shawcross, chair of the Charity Commission, and commission board member Peter Clarke as speakers at a session on whether Islam and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in Europe represented "a strategic threat". The billing was noticed by some Muslim charities, and others, but the commission made clear both had "politely declined". A programme published shortly before the event shows their names without asterisks that would have indicated they were not confirmed: At Large asked the organisers about this but is still waiting for a call back.

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