Posts Tagged ‘charities’

Despite a “concession” the lobbying bill is still a shambles

10/09/2013, 12:45:14 PM

by Wayne David

This afternoon, the house of commons is considering in committee the second part of the so-called lobbying bill. This is the part which puts restraints on the campaigning ability of charities and third sector organisations to campaign in the run-up to general elections.

The government is seeking to get this bill on the statute book as quickly as possible and with as little debate as they can get away with. Their aim is get this restrictive legislative agreed in time for the 2015 General Election.

Even though the bill was only published just before the summer recess, charities and campaigning organisations – from the WI and Oxfam, to the British Legion and Friends of the Earth – responded quickly to the threat which they faced. MPs were inundated with emails from concerned charities and even the impartial Electoral Commission came out strongly and criticised the poorly drafted legislation.

At second reading the government had a ‘bloody nose’ with many Conservatives as well as Labour MPs attacking the Bill. The leader of the house, Andrew Lansley, has indicated that the government will make a ‘concession’ to try to placate the groundswell of opposition. He has said that the government will not now seek to redefine what already exists in legislation with regard to what can be “reasonably” regarded as intended to promote or procure electoral success.

This move is welcome, but it only loosens the stranglehold that charities are facing. The concession does not go nearly far enough because the bill is fundamentally flawed and requires a whole host of changes before it can even begin to be considered as acceptable. In short, it is still a shambles. The Electoral Commission has made the very good point that the government should open up an immediate dialogue with all those affected by the bill “before putting amendments before Parliament”.


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Volunteering’s a means, not an end. Charities should get elected or get stuffed.

15/02/2011, 09:13:48 AM

by Dan Hodges

Private Eye editor, Ian Hislop, was once asked for his view on  an upcoming libel case involving Mohammad Al Fayed and Neil Hamilton. “I hope they both lose”, was his response. I’ve got the same feeling about the unfolding debate about the “big society”.

There are times at the moment when attempting to analyse  British politics feels a bit like analysing the Mad Hatter’s tea party:

“’Have some wine’, the March Hare said in an encouraging tone. Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. ‘I don’t see any wine’, she remarked. ‘There isn’t any’, said the March Hare. ‘Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it’, said Alice angrily”.

Or, with apologies to Lewis Carroll:

“The prime minister announced, with a flourish, his ‘big idea’. ‘Our purse is empty. But do not worry. The voluntary sector will shoulder the burden’. The volunteers looked up with a start. ‘But we can’t. You’ve taken all our money as well’, they cried. ‘Taken your money’? replied the prime minister, ‘But I thought you were volunteers’? ‘We are’, they responded, ‘and we expect to be well paid for it’”.

Perhaps my analogy is a touch harsh. Our nation’s voluntary and charitable sectors are not the equivalent of Mohammed Al Fayed. And no one is the equivalent of Neil Hamilton. (more…)

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