Friday, 30 November 2012

The scandal of political lobbying by charities we pay for - good luck to party-pooper William Shawcross

Potential Hero of the Right
I wonder how many introductions to TV news reports begin with something along the lines of: "The charity, Compassionate People Doing Lovely Things With Your Money, has called on the government to execute all bankers/spend billions more pounds we don't have on the NHS/erect wind turbines in every garden/stop sending murderers to prison/pay social workers a minum £100K a year/deny voting rights to all UKIP supporters/nationalise every newspaper etc." I found myself writing this sort of tosh regularly two decades ago, and it's only got worse over the years.

Not, of course, that there's anything wrong with a charity energetically riding its hobby-horse - but treating spurious, slanted "findings" based on dodgy research as gospel truth represents a shameful dereliction of journalistic duty. And when these peremptory demands issue from "charities" paid for by our taxes, well, it's V-signs and raspberries all round.

This year saw the end of lefty Quango Queen “Dame” Suzi Leather - the scourge of private education - as “chair” of the Charity Commission. During her reign, thousands of left-wing lobbying groups have been allowed to pursue political objectives funded by our taxes while masquerading as charities: so lavish is this funding that many of them no longer bother tapping the public for money – which, let’s face it, is a bit of a bore – preferring to pluck it straight off the public sector money tree. This means that politicians are free to use our money to pay a third party to pursue political objectives they're too cowardly or too lazy to pursue themselves.

The Institute for Fiscal Affairs reported earlier this year that some 27,000 charities were now reliant on government grants, while, as the Telegraph puts it, “actively lobbying for politicians’ pet causes”. In other words, you and I are paying for almost 30,000 extra government agencies, without anyone bothering to ask whether that’s okay with us or not. Worst of all, we’re paying for hundreds of thousands of pseudo-charity staff to swan around feeling morally superior to the rest of us – as if there weren’t enough smug do-gooders in the public sector already.

Well, at last, someone seems prepared to do something about this scandalous misuse of our money. In his first major speech yesterday, Ms Leather’s replacement, Old Etonian writer William Shawcross, had this to say:
“Charities should not become the junior partner in the welfare state; whether or not they provide services funded by Government or indeed receive grants from Government, they must remain independent and focused on their mission. My personal view is that some charities have become dependent on the state. And I think that most members of the public, when asked, would say a charity is an organisation funded from private donations, not public funds.”

Naturally, Shawcross’s nomination was opposed by Labour and Lib Dem MPs because, while he has voted Labour in the past, he came out with this little bombshell ahead of the 2010 general election:
"The disaster we face now is thanks uniquely to Gordon Brown and the Labour Party’s postmodern authoritarianism. A vote for the Lib Dems helps Brown: it could even keep him in power. Only a vote for the Conservatives offers any hope of drawing back from the abyss."
Boo! Hiss!

Let’s hope Shawcross actually manages to do something about it and that this doesn’t turn into another “Bonfire of the Quangoes” – i.e. little more than a soundbite. While he’s at it, he should think about de-registering mainstream charities who pay their top people vast salaries, and who, hiding behind a smiley-face mask of compassion, fool donors into paying for their modish obsessions with, for instance, promoting the Taliban, “clean” energy and the gospel of climate change, while attacking Israel, free-trade, capitalism and fox-hunting.

Quite enough of my taxes are already spent by people whose political views I don't share,  on causes I strongly object to. The nefarious, unaccountable Gramscian activities of cultural leftists are the greatest menace facing this country - let's hope William Shawcross can halt them in this one area, at least. Individuals should be allowed to decide which causes to support with their hard-earned money - we don't need yet another cadre of left-wing social engineers making yet more of our decisions for us.

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