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. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/09/04/uk-charity-politics-labour-links_n_5763986.html
Here Are a few, (all on six figure salaries) Labour-Linked Officials;
* Justin Forsyth: Save The Children
Has been chief executive of Save the Children since 2010. He was previously director of strategic communications in Number 10 under Gordon Brown. He was also an adviser to Tony Blair, when he was Prime Minister, on environmental and international developments in the Number 10 policy unit. In 2012 Save The Children was forced to defend its first ever fund-raising campaign to alleviate poverty in Britain after Tory MPs claimed it reflected a “political agenda”.
* Brendan Cox: Save The Children
Save the Children’s Director of Policy, also worked for Gordon Brown.
* Damian McBride: Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (Cafod)
Cafod hired controversial Labour spin-doctor Damian McBride in 2011 as their Head of Media, who worked there until June 2014. On 11 April 2009 he 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. The emails from McBride had been sent from his No 10 Downing Street email account.
* Chris Mould: Trussell Trust
Chairman of the Trussell Trust, which runs a national network of food banks, is a Labour party member. Mould’s charity incurred the wrath of Iain Duncan Smith, who accused it of “political messaging of your organisation.. despite claiming to be non-partisan.”
* Matthew Frost: Tearfund
Chief executive of Tearfund since October 2005. He previously worked as Head of Strategy at the Department for Education and Skills (as a civil servant) under Labour from 2004 and 2005, after a five year spell as a consultant at McKinsey.
* Sir Stephen Bubb: Acevo
Head of the charity bosses’ trade body, the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, used to be a Labour councillor in Lambeth.
* Peter Watt: NSPCC
Director at the NSPCC, was previously Labour’s General Secretary.
* Matthew Taylor: RSA
Chief executive of the Royal Society of the Arts, previously served as head of the No 10 Policy Unit under Tony Blair.
* Geoff Mulgan: Nesta
Chief Executive of the Nesta innovation charity, (distributing the Government’s £250 million endowment for science and technology) was once chief adviser to Gordon Brown.
* David Miliband: International Rescue charity
President and Chief Executive, cost the International Rescue charity in New York around £1million in his first year, taking into account his own £300,000 salary and relocation and other costs, together with the costs of his imported sidekicks, Ravi Gurumurthy and Ollie Money, respectively his former political strategist and PR man. The International Rescue charity, based in New York is generously supported by Miliband’s old friend George Soros. Still, 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.
* Tony Blair: Africa Governance Initiative (AGI)
Recently expanded his empire to 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. The deal between AGI and South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir was put formally in place last month. Miliband, who was asked to go by Mr Blair, attended a seminar with South Sudan’s vice-president and ministers in the finance and oil and mining ministries on May 30 in the capital Juba, at which Chinese involvement in the country was discussed. Miliband was accompanied by David Brown, who worked for five years in the prime minister’s strategy unit under Mr Blair, and now heads up AGI’s South Sudan operation. In a briefing document, Mr Miliband was listed as a participant representing the Tony Blair Initiative for Africa. More disturbing reading – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/tony-blair/9400155/Tony-Blair-expands-empire-to-oil-rich-South-Sudan.html
Various Labour Connected Persons: Oxfam
* Oxfam were reported to the Charity Commission earlier this year because of their highly politicised poster, blaming Tory policy for poverty. Regardless of whether people agree with what they claim, or not, it is still against their obligations under their charitable status. It may be worth considering that Jo Cox, the former head of policy at Oxfam, was an adviser to Sarah Brown and used to work for Baroness Kinnock, whose husband Neil was the 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 the party’s finance director from 1997 to 1999.
25 Oct 2012; Gordon Brown’s secret army could defeat the Coalition’s welfare and education reforms
Only now, long after the election, do we begin to realise how clever Gordon Brown really was. After the crash, 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 could carry on the fight through charities, quangos and think tanks. At one stage, Brown had a team in Downing Street devoted to appointments in public bodies, carefully building what would become a kind of government-in-exile. And if the Tories tried anything radical – like welfare reform – then Labour’s new fifth columnists would strike.
Recently Iain Duncan Smith trailed a speech about welfare and poverty. A now familiar welcoming committee rose up early to greet him:
* The Child Poverty Action Group declared that there are no jobs to be had, so why punish those on welfare?
* A revered charity, Save the Children, identified government cuts as a major threat to British children.
* Even the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children warned that the “most vulnerable” children are “bearing the brunt” of Cameron’s cuts.
And hearing them all, who would your average listener believe: a politician, or a charity worker? But these charities are not the kindly tin-rattlers they were.
In 2008, Brown changed the rules so charities could join political campaigns. In theory, they could support any party – but as Brown knew, not many would use these powers to demand smaller taxes. It was a masterstroke. The charities sharpened their claws by hiring former Labour apparatchiks. Britain’s charities are nurturing a colourful, talented and efficient anti-Tory alliance.
25 October 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 election, Tory ministers were surprised to see trade union officials with security passes entering government departments. It slowly dawned that, from the NHS to the MoD, civil servants were being paid by the Government to work for the trade unions.
Add it all up (as the TaxPayers’ Alliance has) and a staggering 3,000 union officials are being funded by the taxpayer. This is, in effect, a subsidy of about £86 million to the unions, which then donate to the Labour Party. It is a rather ingenious scam, and Brown bet that Cameron would not bother to dismantle it.
To be sure, the Prime Minister has been strikingly relaxed about all this. His allies say that he has been too much of a gentleman to play Labour’s game and start stuffing quangos with Tory placemen. So the Labour Party, to its amazement and delight, has found that it has entered a new golden era of preferment.
Figures recently released show that 77 per cent of politically active quango appointees last year were Labour supporters. Not even Gordon Brown dared top up his government-in-exile at such a rate. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/9633379/Gordon-Browns-secret-army-could-defeat-the-Coalitions-welfare-and-education-reforms.html
3 September 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 are allowed to spend during the 12 months before an election on work which might have political impact has been 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 the reduced budget will now have to cover a lot more.
The hugely increased bureaucratic burden, particularly onerous for small, local campaign groups, and the bewildering lack of clarity on which aspects of which activities count as electoral, have led the Electoral Commission to describe the changes as unworkable.
The restrictions are not just applied to explicit party endorsements. When Help for Heroes lobby for better prosthetic limbs for military veterans, that could be an implicit criticism of the current government, and were they to publicise a big improvement in this area, that could be an implicit endorsement.
Whether something is electoral is judged by whether it could potentially affect the election, not whether it is intended to. If you’re campaigning for a new hospital in your constituency, 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, then what you’re doing is electioneering, and the government wants you to do a lot less of it.
How will all of this affect corporate lobbyists? Not very much. Big companies don’t generally rely on elections and public opinion to sway politicians. They tend to get better 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 they’re not affected at all. So long as we lack a properly thought through lobbying transparency bill, the best hope the public has of discovering who is influencing their elected representatives is the 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 could drop further as companies avoid scrutiny by taking their lobbying in-house.
The bill privileges undemocratic, behind-the-scenes influence over open, public debate. The Tory party has 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. http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/how-lobbying-bill-became-charity-gagging-bill-20130903
January 24 2014; The Office of Sarah and Gordon Brown
The Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown is not a registered charity, it is a private limited company. 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 since the company was set up by Sarah Brown.
Brown has declared to parliament that the total amount paid to the company since 2010 is £3,605,197. According to a recent announcement on the company’s website, only £912,702 has so far been given to charity after three years. Leaving 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 £550,000-a-year for expenses to meet salaries, accommodation costs and staff expenses.
Gordon can be paid as much as $100,000 for a single speech in America to investors at finance conferences. By funnelling his speaker fees through the company he does not have to pay tax on the income, even though it covers the £10,000-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/
28 January 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. Mr Steerpike only mentions this because Brown’s philanthropist wife Sarah has 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 of Mr S’s acquaintance 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.
That 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.http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/steerpike/2014/01/sarah-browns-unpatriotic-office/
* Why if it is a charity would it need to be in a tax haven ?
* I think you will find that 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. Delaware is even dodgier that the Dutch Antillies or Panama for funny money.
11 Jun 2014; Tory MP reports Oxfam to Commission for being too political
Oxfam recently published a report and in association with Church Action on Poverty and the Trussell Trust, launched a 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”.
Burns said the campaign was “overtly political and aimed at the policies of the current government” and later added “Many people who support Oxfam will be shocked and saddened by this highly political campaigning in domestic British politics. “Most of us operated under the illusion that Oxfam’s focus was on the relief of poverty and famine overseas. “I cannot see how using funds donated to charity to campaign politically can be in accord with Oxfam’s charitable status.
15 August 2014; Half of Gordon Brown’s ‘spads’ work for charities lobbying the Con/Dem Coalition, as Tories condemn ‘revolving door’
Half of Gordon Brown’s special advisers in the last Labour Government now work for charities or left of centre think tanks, many of which now spend their time lobbying the Coalition.
Figures show that 11 out of the 25 special advisers who worked directly for Mr Brown in 2009 now work for supposedly neutral thinktanks 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 thinktank – is being informally investigated by the charity watchdog for its close links to the Labour party.
There is increasing concern among Conservatives that charities and thinktanks are being used as vehicles for a pro-Labour agenda. Tory MPs said they were evidence of a “revolving door” between Labour and charities.
Chris Grayling, the Justice secretary, said he was concerned that supposedly neutral charities and thinktanks 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.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11037088/Half-of-Gordon-Browns-spads-work-for-charities-lobbying-Coalition-as-Tories-condemn-revolving-door.html
3 October 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.” http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/oct/03/george-osborne-charities-business-chancellor
4 December 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. http://wnolondon.net/2014/12/04/are-ex-labour-spads-campaigning-against-the-government-via-charities/
6 January 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; http://thirdforcenews.org.uk/tfn-news/blogs/charities-wont-be-silenced-by-lobbying-act
12 February 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.http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/lisa-nandy/2015-election-labour-party_b_6314032.html