Wednesday, 25 March 2015
The Social Leaders debate
A great Hustings last night at Church House with the 5 parties (the 3 main plus UKIP and the Greens) delivering their Party's view of the sector.
All very civilised; but then we are charity leaders, so we are polite. Indeed even UKIP got a fair hearing (though a few titters at some of the more "interesting" remarks). Nothing much of a revelation in terms of policies. Good questions from the floor. An obvious one on the mystery of the missing £40m sustainability fund. Rob Wilson failed to reveal (said they were still working on it). An interesting response on the issue of bank accounts for Muslim charities from UKIP who indicated the State should intervene.
The hated Lobbying Act was a clear focus. The Greens and Labour pledging to repeal.
I had asked at the beginning what the Parties intended in terms of a " long term social plan". We have heard a lot about the economics from all the parties but so far no coherent outline or vision of how they see society and how they intend to improve our well being as citizens and communities beyond the economy. I didn't come away with many answers.
And the polling during the events was telling. We asked the audience to vote on how optimistic or pessimistic they were about the opportunities for charities after the election. The pessimists won. It hovered around 70% very or slightly pessimistic during the event. I'm not surprised. The Parties need to be more coherent about the offer they have for an essential part of national life. Whether its building social cohesion or delivering better services, giving voice to the unrepresented or supporting those most in need, we must have a vibrant charity and social enterprises. If we are all pessimistic that's hardly a good sign.
But in terms of the event itself, the CAF and ACEVO teams did a brilliant job. Church House was a great venue and the podiums and lighting looked and felt highly professional; as befits the charity leaders network.