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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Another crass Tory

Just when we thought that the Tory backwoodsmen has all defected to UKIP up pops a conservative minister to prove us wrong.

The Guardian reports that David Cameron's new minister for civil society, Brooks Newmark has been branded patronising and dismissive after he told charities to "stick to their knitting" and keep out of politics:

In his first major speech since he took on the role, Newmark used the opportunity to criticise charities who "stray" out of their remit of helping people.

Asked about the ability of charities to campaign, he said: "We really want to try and keep charities and voluntary groups out of the realms of politics. Some 99.9% do exactly that. When they stray into the realm of politics that is not what they are about and that is not why people give them money."

In comments first reported on Civil Society, he added: "The important thing charities should be doing is sticking to their knitting and doing the best they can to promote their agenda, which should be about helping others."

What the Minister does not seem to understand is that the process of helping others is inextricably linked with the political process and with government decisions and policies. Surely that understanding is a basic qualification for being a minister.
However, there is evidence that Labour (in particular) is using the third sector as an adjunct to party political activity. http://order-order.com/2014/06/15/third-sector-mafia-tantrum/ probably overstates the case, but I do feel that the Charity Commission should take a tough line on those charities where their stated aims come second to political advancement.

If you look at the charitable sector in Wales it does seem to be well represented by Labour members and MPs, councillors, AMs pending. Not so much by Tories perhaps there also lies a story that contributes to this one!
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