Longrider has commented on this development a couple of times this week, most recently by referencing an article by Crristina Odone in the Telegraph. His comments are spot on.
We can but hope.I may or may not support pro-choice legislation in Ireland, or protests against “cuts” in government spending. But that is political campaigning, not the charity’s business. I detect a sleight of hand: the nabobs of the charity industry raise money for good works, but spend it on the enjoyable business of lobbying.Precisely. There is charity and there is political lobbying and the two should not mix. We are now in a position where political lobby groups such as CASH, ASH and Alcohol Concern are masquerading as charities, yet if they had to live by public donation alone, they would disappear overnight. They are not charities, they are thinly disguised front organisations for the temperance movement, intent on lobbying the state to interfere in our lifestyle choices and the Charity Commission should do the right thing and remove their charitable status and the state should do the right thing and withdraw all funding for charities.
There is more than that when it comes to the likes of ASH and Alcohol Concern, though. You see, these are not just charities which have, or still do, rely on state funding. Both were also created by the state in the first place.
ASH was formed by the government in 1971 because - and I kid you not - our MPs thought that there wasn't a decent anti-smoking organisation in operation. It didn't matter to them that the reason behind that was that the people they serve didn't really care whether someone smoked or didn't, they just threw some money around and formed a 'charity' which now spends its time (and taxpayers' money) 'denormalising' 21% of the population and badgering for more laws with which to do so.
Alcohol Concern was similarly created by the Thatcher government of 1985, again because there was no will whatsoever for the public to throw money into a bucket for some hectoring tosspot to tell us all what to do with our private lives and choices.
If all that state cash were to dry up tomorrow, ASH would survive mostly on the back of pharma funding. The invention of the nicotine patch as a competitor to tobacco has facilitated that, and could arguably have been behind the formation of ASH in the first place. Alcohol Concern have recently lost their Department of Health funding but still receive other state income, while such piddling amounts of voluntary donations are sent their way that they can't really be properly termed a 'charity' at all.
So it's great that this state misuse of our taxes is being recognised at parliamentary level, but it doesn't go far enough. What the Charity Commission should also forbid is the shifting of funds from one charity to another whose activities are materially different to those which persuaded donors to hand over their cash.
If you give your money to a cancer or children's charity, for example, you should be confident that it is being spent on what you identify that charity with. What should never happen is that they take that money off you ... and then forward it to state-created lobbying organisations like ASH and Alcohol Concern (which happens now).
Odone has rightly pointed out that charities like to use their donations to lobby - which is wrong in many circumstances - but it also needs to be highlighted that most large charities also give public donations to other charities, including many fake ones which most of us would disagree very strongly with.
The whole charity sector needs to be swept of all its corrupt practices, and the sharing of money with organisations the general public don't give a rat's arse about is utterly shameful, and harmful to the very concept of charity giving.
Now that state funding of charities is rightly in the radar as something quite distasteful, so too should be the redistribution of donations from charities with which a donor agrees ... to ones which they don't.
It's, ahem, the next logical step in controlling the fake charity menace.