Thursday, 14 November 2013

Our Voice!

Well done to Victor Adebowale for his comments on the Lobbying Bill. He deserves wide support. Of course I'm hopeful we can get meaningful change, but the worst effect of the Bill could be self-censorship. 

So what did he say?

“The not-for-profit sector is at a crucial point; we can either lead or be led, be silenced or speak out."

The recent convergence of not-for-profits, including the forming of some very unlikely alliances in response to the lobbying bill, is a good example of the latter happening. I’m as concerned, hopefully, as any one of you about its chilling impact on free speech in this country.

I think the bill sends the wrong signal about how we value such concerns. In the past it would have meant the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the Suffragettes, suddenly when it came to an election, would have said, ‘hang on, we need to pull back here people, we’re worried, we might get fined’. Is that acceptable? No. That’s not how society changes. 

Society changes at those pivotal points when the public are interested in who is going to lead them. That’s when we should step up our campaigning. I for one will not be stopped from speaking out by the lobbying bill, and after the Commission on Civil Society achieved a short pause in the Bill last week the last thing we should do is roll over and capitulate to government with a short shopping-list of technical amendments. We have every reason to continue to be bold.

“We should all be prepared to do and say what needs to be said, to reflect the needs of those that we serve.  Do we want to keep society civil? I hope we’re prepared to fight for it … because we’re going to have to fight for what we believe in.”

So spot on Victor. And I shall urge all CEOs to be firm on this even if trustees get cold feet.

And talking of cold feet, I'm just back from Iceland. To celebrate my birthday; makes a change from the more infamous event of my 60th! What a superb place. I stood on a glacier (or rather fell over on one), went out in a boat to see icebergs, watched geysers erupting and went to a farm under the erupting 2011 volcano. I even ate some exotic food, but my vegetarian sister will not want me repeating what! But my, was it cold! Had to buy a stunning woolly hat and jumper. 

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