Wednesday 8 July 2009

Talking with Tories.

Tuesday was a day with Conservatives. We had an ACEVO "Learning with Leaders Lunch" at CCLA (top purveyors of finance and asset management to the sector) in the City. David Willetts MP was our guest. And an amusing and insightful lunch it turned out to be. He has a huge intellect and was thought provoking in his analysis of attitudes to youth and intergenerational links (he is writing a book on the later). He believes one of our problems as a country is that there are few vertical links just horizontal; so youth have no ability to learn from other generations. It was Chatham House so I will not be induced to repeat the curtain twitching comments! I knew David at Oxford and it has been good to keep in touch over the years. He is a real asset to the Conservatives and a good friend of the Sector.

Someone in my office( since kicked) had suggested we might do this lunch without wine! This naturally caused consternation at CCLA who wondered if I'd become a Calvinist, but I'm delighted to say prompt action by their CEO Michael Quicke saved the day with a delightful Puilly Fuisse which Willetts and Bubb greatly enjoyed.

Then it was off to The Commons to meet Edward Garnier MP and Dominic Grieve MP, who have the Home Office and Justice briefs for the Tories. Again it is clear they see a big role for the sector in delivery and we had an interesting exchange on Private- Third Sector partnerships. I suspect there is huge, but as yet unexplored potential in partnerships to run prisons and probation services. The two big charities NACRO and Catch 22, both run by great CEOs, are up for that. ACEVO is planning more work here to explore potential and research what is there now. There is a real energy and determination behind Conservative plan for prisons and it is exciting to contrast it with the "keep a lid on" day to day crisis management of the current Justice Ministry team. Now is the time for radical reform but there is little strategic thinking going on in Government on crime. The Make Justice Work Campaign, on which I've blogged, shows the potential for radical change. It's a shame Jack Straw MP is not jumping at that. So let's see if the Conservatives will grasp this nettle?

And to round off the day I meet another Tory candidate who has been doing various bits of consultancy in the sector and work for Michael Gove MP. He wants to come and do some work with ACEVO so I've signed him up after an interview at the Red Lion Pub (he's Cambridge unnaturally).

On my return back to Brixton, the Heavens opened and the wind rushed through my inadequate Brolly (how good it is to be always armed with an umbrella as my friend Robin Bogg would have it). I was soaked to the skin. Was this God's disapproval for excessive intercourse with the Tories?

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