Saturday, 2 October 2010

Now it's Birmingham

So now off to the Conservative Conference.

I was interested in the Polly Toynbee article in the Guardian on Saturday. She wrote of her worry that people are not being prepared to stand up against damaging cuts. She writes,

" but the self interest of those professionals in charities,academe,institute and public sector who are not speaking out is the real problem. Weasel words like " we agree with the general direction but..."simply don't sound sufficient alarm. You should hear these people blow off in private - but only off the record, of course. Their fear of putting their head above the parapet does no service to the government ot country."

I am afraid there is much truth about this criticism of our own sector. It was one reason I warned in my recent Lecture we need to remember our core task to speak truth to power. I have been surprised at the general silence around the sector. I know that there are those who have decided not to speak out. They let their members down in doing so. I know from journalists that they are finding that the only
organization prepared to voice criticism is Acevo.

But the argument is more nuanced than Polly allows. As I was arguing in my recent lecture , our sector has a dual role in working with the State as well as campaigning on behalf of beneficiaries. So Acevo will work closely with government departments to ensure delivery plans are sound and sensible and put forward our ideas for delivery through the sector, for capitalisation and capacity building. It is the message I will be pushing in Birmingham. Criticism must be critical not oppositional. It must be geared to improving not destroying. And you must advance an alternative.

Team Acevo will arrive in time for our fringe with Ippr north. I shall be speaking with Nat Wei. I shall blog the highlights.

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