Friday 30 July 2010

Nat Wei and NATO

Well that was interesting. The meeting with Nat Wei that is! I admit I had been wary, given some of what I had read and heard, but it turned into an energetic and lively discussion. Clearly someone who likes ideas and wants to drive forward the sector. So we are on the same page there.

However some of the ideas need grounding if they are to work. They need to be developed with the sector and not in isolation. So I see my task in particular to see if I can help do this. And it is clear this is someone who likes ideas and will respond well to them; and if there is something ACEVO excels in its ideas!

We had a great discussion around the need for commercial banks to get lending to the sector and what the barriers that stop this. We both agreed that there is a real potential market for banks and they are currently ignoring it ; so there is a potential alliance between Government and sector in pursuing this (almost a classic Blairite triangulation strategy!)

I expressed my concerns over the community organisers idea and how this could be better grounded in some of the exiting infrastructures that are there. I was so energised by the meeting I already have thoughts on how we might do this. It needs to be moved from the slightly wacky Trot thing it appears at present to a real boost to capacity building in the sector. Not of course that Hurd or Wei are Trots (unless the entryist strategy was really clever!)
So productive; as Mrs Thatcher said of Gorbachev, "this is a man I can do business with".

It was rather an awayday at the Cabinet Office as I also has a meeting with Francis Maude, a politician of the first rank and someone I have got to know well over the last five years. We were there to talk about commissioning and the need for change. I was reporting to him on some of the conclusions arising out of the Admiralty House Group that ACEVO and PWC have been organising; a Group of private, third and public sector commissioning experts. The Cabinet Office are looking for change; to secure greater efficiency and to democratise the process so citizens and communities are more in control.

Again a productive meeting. It's interesting that when I can talk through the ideas and underpinning philosophy it becomes much clearer how this can be a powerful advance for our sector. But the communication of it, and the failure to yet fully engage the sector establishment in delivery, is a problem.

But as I have said before we are Big Society so let's start telling them how to do it better. And ACEVO will take the lead in doing just that.

After a heavy but extremely useful Board then my meetings at Cabinet Office I was fair whacked. So another visit to the Proms was a real treat. Last time it was Beethoven 1st piano concerto. Last night was the 2nd. Beautiful. And then the glorious rolling majesty of Dvorak's" from the New World" symphony. Isn't it time for a third Sector symphony? Ill get my Policy team onto it!

Now I'm off to a meeting with NATO. I have to admit that in my time at ACEVO I have meet with some interesting groups and organisations: but NATO is something else. How ACEVO has grown - can't imagine many third sector organisations doing that can you?

They are interested in the work that Euclid, our dynamic European third sector leaders body, is doing in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Clearly NATO have a strong interest in a more stable democracy and so see a vibrant civil society as a key component to achieving that. So our work in developing civil society leaders in the Balkans and Eastern Europe is increasingly of great interest. Indeed it has now been written up in articles for the World Bank and for the UN. We are global players these days!! Get that Symphony sorted guys !

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