The Munchkins Need Feeding
Charities have become hungry monsters, needing ever more of our money to feed their own, not always charitable ambitions. Many registered charities claim that almost 90p in every pound donated is spent on ‘charitable activities’, but spend at least half their income on management, strategy development, campaigning and fundraising – not what most of us would consider ‘good causes’.
About 27,000 British charities are dependent on the Government for three quarters or more of their funding. Without Government cash, many would collapse. Nevertheless they spend much of their time and money lobbying the Government rather than doing what most people would consider ‘charitable work’.
Many of these charities were, “stuffed to the gunwales with Labour placemen” by Prime Minister Gordon Brown before he left office. Some used to work directly for Gordon Brown, while other third sector bosses worked in the last Labour government, or remain members of the party.
Save the Children
In 2010 Justin Forsyth and Brendan Cox were appointed to the board of Save the Children Newly appointed (Chief Executive Forsyth), was the former Director of Strategic Communications for Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Before that he was a Special Advisor on environmental and international developments for former Prime Minister Tony Blair. His ex Labour government colleague, Brendan Cox (appointed Director of Policy) was previously a special advisor in Gordon Brown's cabinet team.
In 2012, Save The Children, was an organisation in trouble, lacking funds it was forced to conduct its first ever public fund-raising campaign in Britain. Tory MPs claimed its charity work was politically motivated.
Forsyth left Save the Children to take up the post of Deputy Executive Director at Unicef.
He was forced to resign from his post following media revelations about his own past workplace behaviour and mishandling of a former subordinate’s sexual misconduct.
It was revealed that when Chief Executive of Save the Children he faced three complaints of inappropriate behaviour towards female staff . The complaints included sending inappropriate texts and commenting on what young female staff were wearing. He was also accused of mishandling allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against his close ally and subordinate at Save the Children, Director of Policy, Brendan Cox, in 2015.
Save the Children said the complaints against Cox were investigated in accordance with its procedures and confirmed that Cox was suspended and a disciplinary process began but he resigned before it was completed.
Cox has since quit the two charities he set up in memory of his late wife Labour MP Jo Cox. More here:
Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (Cafod)
Labour Government spin-doctor Damian McBride resigned his position after it emerged on a political blog that he and another prominent Labour Party supporter, blogger Derek Draper, had exchanged emails discussing the possibility of disseminating rumours McBride had fabricated about the private lives of some Conservative Party politicians and their spouses.
Cafod appointed McBride as their Head of Media. He worked there until June 2014. He returned to the Labour Party as Head of Political Strategy for the Shadow Foreign Secretary, The Rt. Hon Emily Thornberry MP.
The high profile Trust runs a national network of food banks. Chris Mould joined the Trust in 2003 and was later appointed Chairman. He left in January 2018 to concentrate on his work with the Foundation for Social Change and Inclusion which operates in The Balkans as well as in Bulgaria.
But there is more to the Trussell Trust and Mould than meets the eye. Full story here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/well-trousered-philanthropists-tory-party-chums-and-food-parcels-for-poor/
Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Aveco)
Head of the charity bosses’ trade body, the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, Sir Stephen Bubb was a Labour Party member of Lambeth Borough Council for Clapham Town ward from 1982. He was chairman when the Labour group protested against rate capping by refusing to set a rate and was among 32 Lambeth councillors who were surcharged for causing the council a financial loss by wilful misconduct. The action disqualified him from being a councillor for five years from the end of March 1986.
He came under scrutiny in August 2013 after it was reported that his 60th birthday bash in the House of Commons had been partly financed by his own charity, ACEVO. And this despite the charity paying him a salary in excess of £100,000, he still felt it was acceptable for the charity to cover some of the costs, stating “seemed just right to celebrate my 60th with a tea party in the House of Lords on Monday!”
National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
Peter Watt Director of the NSPCC, was previously Labour’s General Secretary. He resigned following the revelation that a property developer had made donations to the Party through third parties. David Abrahams, gave almost £600,000 to the Party over four years. Watt admitted to officers of Labour’s National Executive Committee that he had known about the arrangement. Under the law, those making donations on behalf of others must give details of who is providing the money.
Royal Society of the Arts ( RSA)
Between 1998 and 2003, Matthew Taylor was the Director of the left of centre think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research, In 2003 Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed him head of the Number 10 Policy Unit and gave him the task of drawing up the Labour Party’s manifesto for the May 2005 General Election.
Following the re-election of the Labour government he became Chief Adviser on Strategy to the Prime Minister and was involved in several initiatives engaging the public with the political process. He also had a key role in developing the Labour Party’s “Big Conversation” discussion forums.
In 2006 he was appointed Chief Executive of the charity, the RSA, an enlightenment, apolitical organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to social challenges.
National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA)
Geoff Mulgan was a special adviser to Gordon Brown from 1990 to 1992 when he was shadow Trade and Industry secretary. Mulgan described himself as ‘the Clinton campaign’s link to Labour, which involved lots of telephone calls with the Americans’. Mulgan was part of a 1995 ‘secret committee’ led by Peter Mandelson ‘to examine policy changes, that were central to the modernisation of the Labour Party. The group, set up just before Blair flew to meet Rupert Murdoch in 1995, was officially described as outside experts ‘helping to write sections of speeches and background papers’ for the Labour leader. But some senior MPs noticed that the committee was actually an exclusive policy-making forum
Mulgan discharged a number of key roles in the Labour Government between 1997 and 2004 including director of the Government’s Strategy Unit and head of policy in the Prime Minister Tony Blairs’s office.
NESTA was conceived in part thanks to the vision of Oscar-winning director David Puttnam, who recognised the UK’s failure to capitalise on its globally recognised talent for innovation and invention. The country was, in short, bad at turning inventions into marketable applications.
In an effort to reverse this, the UK’s first ever publicly supported national endowment was created with £250 million of National Lottery funding (later supplemented, in 2006, with a further £75 million of Lottery funding drawn down over five years). The idea was that a secure income source would enable greater risks to be taken with UK-based innovations, which could be backed over the long term without being at the behest of government funding cycles and shifts in the political wind.
In 2010, Mulgan was appointed Chief Executive of Nesta the body responsible for distributing the Labour Government’s £250 million endowment for science and technology.
Under his leadership it became an independent charity in April 2012 and its focus shifted towards innovation for public benefit as it concentrated its policies on tackling social problems in the public and voluntary sectors.
He was awarded a knighthood in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours in recognition of his work to advance social innovation.
International Rescue is based in New York and is financially supported by the UK, US and other governments and billionaire, & political manipulator, George Soros.
David Milliband, from 2010 the President and Chief Executive of “International Rescue” based in New York, cost the charity £1million in his first year (taking into account his £300,000 salary, relocation fees and other costs, together with the costs of importing his sidekicks, Ravi Gurumurthy and Ollie Money, (his former political strategist and PR man).
Miliband has never come cheap: in one year as the MP for South Shields in South Tyneside, he grossed £288,000 in outside earnings on top of his parliamentary salary of £65,000.
2018: International Rescue fronted by David Miliband hushed up 37 sex abuse, fraud and bribery allegations. The Department for International Development cut off funding “based on claims of “fraud, bribery and sexual misconduct” among groups awarded funds. A total of £5.4million of taxpayer cash was eventually released. Investigations are ongoing.
Tony Blair expanded his empire to include oil-rich South Sudan. His charity, now has offices in presidential departments across five African countries. His reach in Africa stretches into Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Liberia, Guinea and now the world’s newest country.
David Brown, who worked for five years in the Prime Minister’s strategy unit under Blair heads up AGI’s South Sudan operation.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is facing questions over his role as adviser to Malawi President Joyce Banda following a corruption scandal dubbed as ‘cashgate’ which forced Britain and other Western donors to withhold budgetary aid. Blair and his charity the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) has been working closely with President Banda since August last year. Conservative MPs and campaigners in Malawi are now demanding to know whether Blair and his team were aware of the corruption allegations. It said they want to know whether Blair was warned about corruption, and if so what he did about it. If his team was ignorant, then it raises potentially embarrassing questions about what AGI’s “governance” programme meant to achieve.
Oxfam was reported to the Charity Commission by the Tory Party in 2014, for publishing a faux film poster, headed “Lifting the lid on austerity, Britain reveals a perfect storm and it’s forcing more and more people into poverty.” Showing a broiling sea under clouds titled: The Perfect Storm. Added were the words ‘starring zero hours contracts, high prices, benefit cuts, unemployment, childcare costs’. And a post on Twitter which invited readers to hear how Oxfam “investigated the reasons why so many people were turning to food banks in Britain 2014.”
Worthy of consideration is that the late Jo Cox, who was head of policy at Oxfam, was previously an advisor to Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah and also worked for Baroness Kinnock, whose husband Neil was leader of the Labour party between 1983 and 1992.
It is also worth noting that David Pitt-Watson, Oxfam’s honorary treasurer, was also a special advisor (SPAD) for over 20 years and was Assistant General Secretary of the Labour Party from 1997 to 1999.
Oct 2012; Gordon Brown’s secret army could defeat the Tory/Libdem Coalition welfare and education reforms
Long after the 2010 General Election election defeat came the realization that Gordon Brown really was a clever planner. In his last two years in office, he started preparing for a new kind of opposition. Labour might be turfed out of government, but it would carry on the fight through charities, quangos and think tanks. At one time Brown had a team in Downing Street devoted to appointments in public bodies, carefully building what would become a kind of government-in-exile. If the Tories tried anything radical – like welfare reform – then Labour’s new fifth columnists would strike.
The foregoing was evidenced when Iain Duncan Smith trailed a speech about reforming welfare and poverty and a now familiar welcoming committee rose to greet him:
The Child Poverty Action Group declared that there are no jobs to be had, so why punish those on welfare?
Save the Children, said government cuts were a major threat to British children.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children warned that the “most vulnerable” children are “bearing the brunt” of Cameron’s cuts.
Faced with these quotes who would the average listener believe? A politician, or a charity worker.
In 2008, Brown also changed the rules so charities could join political campaigns. In theory, they could support any party but as Brown knew, very few charities would use the new powers to demand smaller taxes. It was a masterstroke. The charities then sharpened their claws by hiring former Labour apparatchiks. Britain’s charities were nurturing a colourful, talented and efficient anti-Tory alliance.
Oct 2012: Gordon Brown’s secret army of 5th columnists could defeat the Coalition’s welfare and education reforms
Perhaps Brown’s cleverest move was his deal with the unions. After the 2010 General Election Tory ministers were surprised to see trade union officials armed with security passes entering government departments. It slowly dawned on them that from the NHS to the MoD, civil servants were effectively being paid by the Government to work for the trade unions.
It added up to (revealed by the Tax Payers’ Alliance) a staggering 3,000 union officials being funded by the taxpayer. It was in effect a subsidy of around £86m to the unions, which they donated to the Labour Party. An ingenious scam.
Brown took side bets that Cameron would not bother to dismantle the scheme and he was right Cameron, said his supporters was too much of a gentleman to play Brown’s games. So the Labour Party entered a new golden era of preferment. But the Tory Party would hit back.
Sep 2013: The charity gagging bill
The Tory Party’s controversial lobbying bill, otherwise known as the “charity gagging bill” was rushed through parliament with unseemly haste. The intention is to limit the ability of non-profit charities and similar groups to campaign on issues of public interest. Specifically, the amount charities, unions and campaign groups will be permitted to spend on work which might have political impact in the 12 months prior to an election will be cut by over 60%. At the same time the definition of electoral expenses has been broadened from the cost of election related leaflets and posters to include many other costs such as staff wages and other overheads, so a reduced budget will need to cover a whole lot more. The hugely increased bureaucratic burden will be particularly onerous for small, local campaign groups, and the accompanying lack of clarity on which aspects of which activities will count as electoral have led the Electoral Commission to describe the changes as unworkable. And the restrictions are not just to be applied to explicit party endorsements. When “Help for Heroes” lobby for better prosthetic limbs for military veterans, that could be taken as an implicit criticism of the government, and were they to publicise a big improvement in this area, that could be an implicit endorsement. Something electoral is not judged by whether it could potentially affect the election or whether it is intended to. Campaigning for a new hospital or against one being closed, for or against a new bypass, free school or bird sanctuary, or any issue on which politicians or their parties have expressed a view, is electioneering, and the government intends the electorate will be doing a lot less of it. And what about the corporate lobbyists? Largely unaffected. Large companies are not reliant on elections and public opinion to sway politicians. They gain results from informal one-to-one chats in corporate hospitality boxes, fact-finding missions to exotic locations, and the occasional quiet country supper. But that doesn’t mean that they are not adversely affected. So long as there is an absence of a lobbying transparency bill the best hope the public has of discovering who is influencing their elected representatives is a constant questioning and probing from charities and campaign groups. And the best hope for causes which might be opposed by big money interests is those same charities and campaign groups. And so the charity gagging bill removes the single biggest restriction on the power of corporate lobbyists and replaces it with a register covering less than 20% of the industry a percentage which will drop further as companies avoid scrutiny by taking their lobbying in-house. The bill privileges undemocratic, behind the scenes influence over open, public debate. Cameron and the Tory Party have delivered the next great political scandal. A piece of legislation intended as a watchdog for corporate lobbyists, stopping them from hijacking legislation has apparently been hijacked by corporate lobbyists who have pulled all of its teeth and trained it to bark at the postman and play dead for burglars. Full story here:
Jan 2014; The Office of Sarah and Gordon Brown
Investigation revealed, by piecing together some 133 declarations made in Gordon Brown’s parliamentary register of interests, a picture of the until now private accounts of the company, the “Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown” is not a registered charity, it is a private limited company.
Brown declared to parliament that the total amount paid to the company since 2010 was £3,605,197. According to a recent announcement on the company’s website £912,702 has so far been given to charity. This leaves over £2 million to be accounted for when according to the latest available records the company had only £160,978 in cash at the bank. You can see an itemised spreadsheet compiled from Guido’s investigations here:
The company admits it budgets £550k-a-year for expenses to meet salaries, accommodation costs and staff expenses.
Brown can be paid as much as $100k for a single speech to investors at finance conferences in the US. And by funnelling his speaker fees through the company he avoids tax on his income, even though it covers the £10k a week expenses for Gordon and Sarah to maintain the jet-set premier lifestyle they were accustomed to when in Downing Street, travelling first class around the world and staying in top five star hotels attended to by flunkies. Something Gordon would not be able to do on his backbench MP’s salary… http://order-order.com/tag/wheres-gordon/page/2/
Jan 2014; Sarah Brown’s (Gordons Wife) unpatriotic office
“The old tax havens have no place in this new world. We now call on all countries to apply international standards,” said Gordon Brown back in 2009 when he was Prime Minister. This is only mentioned because Brown’s philanthropist wife Sarah had made an odd choice of home for her charity.
Sarah Brown is the founder and Executive Chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education – a charitable organisation whose members include heavyweights such as Accenture, Chevron and Tata. The organisation admirably aims to bring ‘the business community together to accelerate progress in delivering quality education for all of the world’s children and youth.’
But the GBCfE is based in one of the most secretive tax jurisdictions in the world – Delaware, a state affectionately known by tax lawyers as “the Cayman Islands of North America”. The charity’s registered office is 1209 North Orange Street, a single story building which is the legal address of 285,000 businesses according to the New York Times.
The New York Times profile said that 1209 North Orange Street is home to “big corporations, small-time businesses, rogues, scoundrels and worse”. What might have drawn Sarah Brown to such an infamous site in so controversial a state? And is there enough desk-space at 1209 to house more than a quarter of a million tenants? Besides, Sarah Brown should be more patriotic and back the British tax system, which treats recognised charities very generously indeed. More here: http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/steerpike/2014/01/sarah-browns-unpatriotic-office/
Q. Why, if it is a charity would it need to be registered in a tax haven ?
A. Perhaps it is not actually registered as a charity – at least not in the UK.
Many celebs register their “charities” in Delaware because their annual filings are kept confidential and there is little or no oversight. So if saving the planet requires travel via private jet, luxury accommodations, staff of well-paid flunkies and so on, no-one’s the wiser.
UK Charities risk having their operations and accounts scrutinised by the Charity Commissioner and Delaware is even dodgier than the Dutch Antilles or Panama for funny money.
Jun 2014: Tory MP reports Oxfam to Commission for being too political
Oxfam recently published a report in association with “Church Action on Poverty” and the “Trussell Trust” launched a similar campaign calling for social security reform, research into food banks, an increase in the minimum wage, and a review of zero-hours contracts. It also published tweets in support of the campaign, including an image called “The Perfect Storm”.
The Tory MP said “the campaign is overtly political and aimed at the policies of the current government. Many people who support Oxfam will be shocked and saddened by this highly political campaigning in domestic British politics. Most of us operate under the illusion that Oxfam’s focus is on the relief of poverty and famine overseas and I cannot see how using funds donated to charity to campaign politically can be in accord with Oxfam’s charitable status”.
Aug 2014: Tories condemn the revolving door
Half of Gordon Brown’s special advisors in the last Labour Government now work for charities or left of centre think tanks, many of which now spend their time lobbying the government. Figures show that 11 out of the 25 special advisers who worked directly for Mr Brown in 2009 now work for supposedly neutral think tanks or charities many of which speak out against the Government or lobby ministers to change laws. The Sunday Telegraph disclosed that one such organisation – the Institute of Public Policy Research, once dubbed Tony Blair’s favourite think tank – is being informally investigated by the charity watchdog for its close links to the Labour Party. There is also increasing concern among Conservatives that charities and think tanks are being used as vehicles for a pro-Labour agenda. Tory MPs said there was evidence of a “revolving door” between Labour and charities. Chris Grayling, the Justice secretary, said he was concerned that supposedly neutral charities and think tanks were being used to get Ed Miliband “into Downing Street”. Grayling said: “An extraordinary number, moreover, are drawn from the ranks of the Labour Party. If you read through the CVs of its candidates in 2015, a substantial proportion have worked for pressure groups and as trade union campaigners. “It’s now the career route of choice: they can use that platform to attack this Government and make their name, lining up alongside former special advisers, MPs and councillors to argue for more spending, or to spread scare stories that are often exaggerated or wholly untrue.” He added: “Britain’s professional campaigners are growing in number: sending emails around the country, flocking around Westminster, dominating BBC programmes, and usually articulating a Left-wing vision which is neither affordable nor deliverable – and wholly at odds with the long-term economic plan this Government has worked so hard to put in place.”
Oct 2014; George Osborne faces backlash after branding charities ‘anti-business’
Osborne has been the target of criticism by many charities over the effect of government cuts, most recently by the Child Poverty Action Group, Gingerbread and other groups when he announced a further two-year freeze on working age benefits if the Conservatives win power next year. Many feel the negativity of some Tories towards charities has its roots in the fact that some, such as those who provide food banks, have played a high-profile role in highlighting the effects of welfare cuts. Osborne’s broader suggestion that businesses know better than charities how to bring about prosperity was strongly questioned by John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace. “George Osborne appears to lack a sophisticated understanding of what brings about prosperity and happiness in societies,” he said. “Most league tables show countries that protect the environment and have progressive social policies have more fulfilled, satisfied populations. It’s not anti-capitalist to say clean water, clean air and sustainable growth are good for everyone.”
Dec 2014: Are ex-Labour SPADS campaigning against the government via charities?
Save the Children caused quite a stir after deciding to award former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, with a “Global Legacy” award. An online campaign was started, demanding that they revoke the award, stating that it is inappropriate because of the role he played in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
It was also raised that the Chief Executive of Save the Children, Justin Forsyth, used to be a special adviser (SPAD) to both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Although it appears to be unlikely that he had any say in the decision to give his former boss the award, his charity has been criticised in the past for its support of Oxfam in their highly politicised campaign against the government. Part of the rules that govern which charities are given charitable status, (which include generous tax relief and the ability to claim extra money from the treasury via Gift Aid), is that they remain politically neutral and do not get involved with political campaigning. This raises an interesting question: Can somebody who was so involved with the previous government really put aside their own personal politics and become politically neutral for the sake of their job?Just how many former labour SPADS are now involved with charities or think tanks? We’ll start with the two charities mentioned so far: Oxfam and Save the Children.
Jan 2015: Charities won’t be silenced by Lobbying Act
Charity chiefs have said they will defy rules which could restrict campaigning during the forthcoming Westminster general election campaign.
The UK Lobbying Act, which came into force last year, brought in changes to how non-political organisations can conduct campaigning work in the run up to a general election. However, third sector groups are concerned they could be caught up in these changes in the run up to the general election even if they don’t mention political parties but campaign on general policy – for example the retention of the Human Rights Act and welfare spending cuts.
Groups that actively campaign as part of the general election campaign have to register with the Electoral Commission and adhere to strict new spending limits.
However, the board of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has said the body will not register regardless. SCVO is worried that the new law will effectively muzzle charities and have a chilling effect on legitimate criticism of policy. Read more at;
Feb 2015: Labour Will Put Charities Back at the Heart of Society
Not long ago David Cameron put charities at the heart of his offer to the British public. Just five years later the reality of his Big Society can be found in the lengthening queues at food banks, run by overstretched charities up and down the country dealing with the fallout from his government’s political choices.
The Lobbying Act, supposed to bring more transparency to the lobbying industry and politics instead restricts the ability of charities and campaigners to speak out. Judicial review has been restricted, employment tribunal fees have been hiked and legal aid has been slashed.
Throughout our history charities and other civil society groups have acted as a buffer between the individual and the state and consistently spoken truth to power. In challenging times this is a voice we badly need to hear.
Let’s put charities back at the heart of society, for real this time, and make these changes as part of our promise to listen and learn even when the going gets tough.