Having served up one of the worst pieces of legislation in living memory, it’s worthwhile reflecting on the efforts made to silence criticism from one of the main victims Lobbying Bill: the charitable sector.
Being published in the July with an almost complete absence of consultation, it took charities a couple of weeks to get to grips with the full horror of the bill. But when Third Sector magazine became the first to publicise concerns on 5 August, charities were immediately hit with days of negative press over executive pay — based on extensive pre-prepared research from the Tories.
The attack was launched in the Telegraph with a level of planning and co-ordination which is no accident during the sleepy Summer recess. Here’s a flavour of the coverage, starring CCHQ proxy Priti Patel:
- 30 charity chiefs paid more than £100,000
- How much charities spend on ‘charitable activities’
- Charities are betraying donors and volunteers
- Three more of UK’s biggest aid charities admit rewarding staff with bonuses
The story was given huge weight by Charity Commission chair William Shawcross, who commented on the first day that high salaries “risk bringing organisations and the wider charitable world into disrepute”. It behooves Scrapbook to speculate on the politics of the Shawcross household: William’s wife and son-in-law are both, errrr, Tory members of the House of Lords.
And similar treatment has been meted out to other non-party actors who criticise the bill — even the electoral regulator, whose concerns were revealed by Scrapbook last month:
Fine for @ElectoralCommUK to comment on lobbying bill, but why NOTHING abt scandal of 5m overseas voters they’ve totally failed to register?
— Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) September 4, 2013
The party of the Big Society now wants to kill it.
UPDATE: Compliant Charity Commission boss William Shawcross’ daughter works for George Osborne. While his father, Hartley Shawcross, was a Labour MP, there is a reason why he was dubbed ‘Shortly Floorcross’ by his red colleagues.