This blog promises to reveal the inside track of a third sector leader influencing in Whitehall, championing professionalism and causing a stir.
Sir Stephen Bubb is director of Charity Futures, which promotes better charity governance and leadership. He was formerly Chief Executive of ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) until 2016.
His blog is part of the British Library’s national blog archive.
Tuesday, 3 September 2013
Lobbying: The Times!
As the debate starts today on the Bill its good to see how opinion is
developing against this bad piece of legislation. Countless charities have highlighted
its chilling effects, as have the electoral commission in their briefing here
It is crucial to us that we overturn what one paper described as the
"charity gagging clauses".
A good Editorial
in the Guardian and I contributed an opinion piece in "The
Thunderer" in today's Times: "This
Bill Rewards Rich Lobbyists and Penalises Charities".
For those who don't read The Times I thought I'd reproduce the piece here:
Lobbying Bill in Parliament today was meant to restore trust in politics, but
it has achieved the unlikely feat of bringing together corporate lobbyists and
charities in loud condemnation. Astonishingly, it makes lobbying even less
transparent and clamps down on charities’ ability to campaign. The Bill must be
rewritten to acknowledge that “big money”, not charity campaigning, dents the
public’s trust in politics.
2010 political parties spent £31 million on their campaigns before the general
election. Charities and civil society spent a mere £3 million. Yet a reader of
today’s Bill would be forgiven for assuming that charities spend more during
elections than political parties, since the Bill makes no attempt to regulate
private donations to party coffers, or company lobbying.
YouGov poll released today for ACEVO, the charity leaders’ association, shows
that trust in charities is high. A mere 8 per cent of the public trusted
private lobbyists to influence policy for public good, compared with 49 per
cent trusting charities. Only 19 per cent thought charities had significant
influence, while 63 per cent thought private lobbyists did. The Lobbying Bill
will worsen this situation.
Bill flies in the face of public opinion by halving the amount that charities
can spend campaigning in election years. More insidiously, the Bill regulates
not just campaigns that intend to help a political party but also those that
could affect its chances, whatever they aimed to do.
Cancer Research UK complained before the general election about the Government
dropping plain cigarette packaging, they might be punished for unwittingly
helping the Opposition. But if tobacco companies privately lobbied for policies
that increased their profits, under this Bill the public would not even be
applaud the Government’s intention to keep “big, opaque and unaccountable
money” out of politics, as the MP Tom Brake stated last week. Curbing charity
campaigning, though, will have the opposite, absurd effect. It will silence the
voices of charities such as Scope and Barnado’s, which speak for society’s most
disadvantaged and vulnerable people. It will also reduce the quality of our
laws. Charities must work for public benefit, not private profit, and be
non-party-political. They speak from the experience of their members and
is clear that today’s Lobbying Bill must be redrafted. Passing it in its
current form will punish charities for the problems caused by private business
lobbying. That is certainly not for the public good."