Five Electoral Commission staff attended a meeting on Tuesday at ACEVO Towers organised hosted by Bond, ACEVO and others involved with the Commission on Civil Society. It was attended by 120 charities and campaigners. There were some heated exchanges between the Commission and the attendees as the regulator tried and failed to clarify guidance that was intended to make things clear! They are to be commended on their willingness to engage with the sector - indeed some of the Commission have a background working in the third sector. But there is still a long way before we come close to fully understanding every part of the guidance.
I note also my letter in February from the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who wrote to me to reassure us that the majority of charities and campaigners would not be affected by the new Act.
We were told that government wanted more transparency and not to limit charities’ ability to speak out in public. Ultimately the proof of what exactly the Act really does affect will come after its regulatory period starts next month. But for now we’ll continue to campaign for clarity about its regulations and to replace it after the election with a workable and fair arrangement for non-party campaigners.
And finally; you might ask what happened to me and Newsnight yesterday. Well, I was bumped in favour of Jacob Rees-Mogg of all people. Hardly the stuff of in-depth analysis. On a happier note I can report that Radio 4 is doing an analysis programme to go out next Thursday evening which does examine Big Society - what happened? Worth listening to. I did an interview for them today.