DID YOU see a fascinating piece in the Guardian’s From the Archive section? It reported on an incident I must admit I’d never heard about.
It came from February 1939, the time of the last post-war Cruft’s show, the only one run by Emma Cruft following the death of her husband Charles, the show’s founder. Of course there were no Cruft’s shows during the second world war and during that period she sold the rights to the name to the Kennel Club. Venue for the show at that period was the Royal Agricultural Hall at Ingliston which, by the way, still exists.
According to the Guardian report, six members of the National Unemployed Workers Movement paraded in the ring at the show: “A large number of extra police were called and after the men had mingled among the crowd carrying placards they were escorted from the building.”
They had paid for admission but then produced their placards whose messages read “The dogs are O.K.: judge our condition”; “Luxury for dogs: poverty for humans – give us work”; and “You breed dogs – unemployment assistance breeds misery.” I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you of the often terrible economic conditions which existed in parts of Britain during that turbulent decade.
They walked into the ring – presumably the main ring – during the judging and managed to stay there for a few moments until police ordered them to leave the halls.
The Guardian says that one of the men later told a reporter he had been unemployed for 12 months: “We staged the demonstration because we felt that it was not right for dogs to be pampered and for 2,000,000 unemployed to exist under appalling conditions.”
Apparently the reporter too was seized by uniformed men and forcibly ejected. When he returned to the entrance, an official told him the uniformed men were auxiliary policemen on loan for the duration of the show. They had also blocked the view of photographers who had tried to report the incident.
I was interested to know what DOG WORLD had made of this incident so looked up the coverage of Crufts 1939. Well, one thing I can safely say is that our news reporting has improved considerably in the intervening decades! I couldn’t find any mention whatsoever of the protest, but then again I couldn’t find any reference to who won best in show! Our editor Phyllis Robson, as so often, was staying in the US and there is a big picture of her going deep sea fishing with a catch of barracudas, kingfish, groupers, mackerel, bonitos and a rare African ribbon fish! Beat that, Damian!
As we know, and as Geraldine Cove-Print mentioned in her column a couple of weeks ago, in more recent years there have been occasional incidents during the Crufts group judging, some simply silly, some attempting to get across a message.
None has disrupted things for more than a few seconds and thankfully no dogs have been put off. As a result there is the increased security presence around the arena which we see today.