Thursday 6 May 2010


Up early; I love voting! There was a large queue at the Atkins Primary school in Brixton; just opposite the Hand in Hand pub made famous by Polly Toynbee in her Guardian article this week when she wrote about the Clapham Park Estate and why people should vote Labour.

This is the first election I have not been out actively campaigning but if you lead a charity its better not to upset the dear old Charity Commission; they probably have their spies out checking if I'm running around with placards saying "Vote for Big Society" !

Last election night I was at the victory party in the National Portrait Gallery and was one of the first people to congratulate my old friend Tony Blair (how we miss him) on his incredible and historic 3rd election victory. Why, I was even spotted there by one of my members watching Sky TV in his hotel in Nairobi! But not tonight. I'll be at an election night Party at the Institute of Government. Less glamorous but the networking will be cool.

It's always a thrill when you pick up that pencil to mark the ballot. This election every vote is important. And tomorrow we will need to get cracking to support whoever wins No: 10 to ensure the third sector thrives and prospers.

It's been a busy few days. Tuesday I was "lunched" out: lunch with Chris Banks, formerly of Coca-Cola and recently Chair of the UK's largest quango, the LSC. He has been on the Board of the Social Investment Business and Jonathan and I were taking him out to pick his brains on the future. A superb restaurant, The Hibiscus, just behind St George's Hanover Square. A fabulous chef and the smoked fudge was to die for. Then dinner at that great Indian restaurant Benares, in Berkeley Square, with a Permanent Secretary. Discretion gets the better of me as I agree not to blog who it is! But an agreeable meal which will result in another fantastic ACEVO taskforce ... watch this space!

Coffee yesterday with Philip Blond, that famous "Red Tory" and head of ResPublica was fun. We are talking about what work we might do together; he has been hugely influential in the Tory "Big Society" idea and has been an advocate of mutuals and co-operatives, though as I said to him, simply changing the name over the door of a public service may not make them less bureaucratic or producer dominated. Do we really want a Haringey Social Work Collective? I think not!

Lunch with my Chair was slightly less glamorous yesterday. Salmon salad in her office. Not that I'm complaining! We were meeting with Volunteering England. Sukhvinder Stubbs is their glamorous and dynamic Chair. I've known her for centuries and always liked her considerable style. Justin Davis Smith is their able CEO and obviously an ACEVO member. Both political parties have great plans for more volunteering but seem oblivious to the need for a professional approach which ensures charities and other third sector bodies can actually run good volunteer programmes. We are going to work together on a number of initiatives; ACEVO's members know the importance of a professional approach to volunteer management.

So today a quiet day in the office. Many staff are out there doing their bit to support the cause (whatever that might be!). Tomorrow is another day.

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