Last year the Baring Foundation, after careful consideration, chose the most worthy recipients for their largesse. They decided to spend a whopping £130,757 on an outfit called Civil Exchange to pay for a "Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector." (I suppose at least it meant they are not pouring even more money into Law Centres to go round suing people as a form of agitprop.)
What did they come up with this lavish budget? They have produced a report which repeats the cliche "speak truth to power" five times. It concludes that charities should get more state funding and they should spend more money lobbying and campaigning.
This lobbying is not likely to be for less regulation or state spending. The state funds charities that then lobby for a bigger state. They become sock puppets. That cosy arrangement is the real threat to independence and to genuine charitable interests. It is a scandal that we have charities doing little or nothing to provide practical benefit but instead sending most or all of their money on campaigning.
But the Panel say charities devoting more money to politics would be welcome:
Going forward, a greater focus in the voluntary sector on how to build a stronger voice on policy as well as funding issues is needed.
Concerns about the inappropriateness of charities’ campaigning role have recently started to surface in central government. In December 2012, the Department for Communities and Local Government issued guidance to local authorities advising them to stop funding what it
calls ‘fake charities’ that ‘lobby and call for more state regulation and more state funding’ and referring specifically to the report by the Institute of Economic Affairs.
This has set their alarm bells ringing:
Calls to remove charitable status from charities that receive most of their funding from the state should be resisted, as mission not money is key, but it is vital that charities act like charities if they enjoy that status, including exercising their independent voice.
The Government should actively defend the right of voluntary organisations to campaign, even where they receive government money. One positive development is the rise of highly independent campaigning voluntary sector organisations which use social media to garner public support and deploy it to challenge entrenched power. 38 degrees is one example which has secured changes in policy and practice through such techniques.
Ah yes 38 Degrees. That "progressive" outfit that swamps MPs by mobilising its supporters to just click a mouse. So the Inboxes of our elected representatives are clogged 38 Degrees campaign messages – demands for higher tax, defending the BBC, attacking Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump, attacking cuts to legal aid, supporting wind farms, attacking privatisation…well you get the idea.
The "Independence Panel" doubtless regards these campaigns as simply telling "truth to power." For example, the campaign from Christian Aid claiming that free trade is the cause of poverty is probably regarded as legitimate on the same grounds.
But just how independent is the Independence Panel?
Its members include Dame Anne Owers of Christian Aid, Nicholas Deakin a "professor of social policy", Julia Unwin from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation….
No further questions m'lud!
The Baring Foundation really didn't need to spend £130,757 to find out what this bunch would think.
Isn't i astonishing the arrogance and presumption of the Left that they not only expect the rest of us to accept their misguided assertions as "truth" but to fund them from our taxes to allow them to campaign full time for Socialism without the distraction of getting proper jobs?