Monday 8 February 2016

Fake Charities, From Blog To Statute

What with the joyous news of both the imminent shutdown of Smokefree South West and the government's new rules on 'government lobbying government', it's been a marvellous few days, hasn't it?

On the latter, here's a bit of history for you that many might not be aware of. Back in 2008 I started writing here and the blogosphere was completely different. Iain Dale was not a publisher and presenter on LBC but instead one of the pioneers of political blogging (he was arguably instrumental in raising blogging to a level where many now rival or even eclipse the MSM). His enthusiasm for the platform was infectious and his Daley Dozen - literally a dozen blog articles every day - would promote left of centre blogs as much as he would his preferred Tory ones.

One of the best and most visited blogs of the time - and therefore featuring regularly in Dale's round-ups - was the magnificent Devil's Kitchen, a site which carried some of the best libertarian writing you could ever hope to read. Fiercely splenetic, unapologetically sweary and containing fantasy violence, it took no prisoners but could still make you laugh out loud over your monitor of a weekday lunchtime.

Despite this, the blog author, Chris Mounsey, was (and still is) an incredibly astute and knowledgeable observer of politics. It was he, back in 2008, who first noticed the proliferation of state-funded groups which would use their tax-leeched funding to lobby for new laws. The term 'government lobbying government' arguably began on his blog and he coined the description "Fake Charities" which still applies to lobbying organisations like ASH Scotland (85% state funding and whose sole function is to demand new laws) to this day.

The brilliant news of government clamping down on the abuse of 'charities' abusing taxpayer grants to further their own ends was brought to prominence by the IEA but it was DK who kicked it all off with a quite inspired website.
That was the date and time that your humble Devil first registered the domain—19th January 2009. I built the first site that night, using a simple Open Source CMS called WebsiteBaker. 
I then populated this simple site with a few organisations that I, and Kitchen contributor the Filthy Smoker, had identified as being particularly egregious specimens of the type we called "fake charities"
A few days ago, and a mere seven years later (!), the work of that night—and the efforts of many grassroots and blogosphere contributors—became a significant victory.
You will hear a lot of bluster from the charities who have been caught with their hands in the nation's till over this; they will try to blame corporations, or perhaps those nasty think tanks and their shadowy funders. But it is incontestable that this egregious abuse of taxes was first discovered by a guy who just enjoyed recreational political writing; was never paid for his work; did it in his spare time; and just knows a wrong 'un when he sees it.

It was a victory for the blogosphere and was a grass roots campaign which has gone from a corner of the internet to the upper echelons of the state, resulting in a rule which is - as we speak - prompting 'charity' meetings up and down the country to formulate plans as to how to keep their noses in the trough.

Congratulations, DK, you done good. And I say this as someone who never did get awarded a Bloody Devil you tight bastard!

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