Editorial: Time to close the revolving door

The Labour Party should halt its relatively rapid turnover of shadow charities ministers and allow Lisa Nandy a good run, writes Stephen Cook

Lisa Nandy 'gets' the voluntary sector in a way that most politicians don't, writes Stephen Cook
Lisa Nandy 'gets' the voluntary sector in a way that most politicians don't, writes Stephen Cook

The charities minister, Nick Hurd, pointed out in his recent interview with Third Sector that Labour shadow ministers seemed to come and go rapidly through a "revolving door". It didn't make for informed or effective opposition, he implied.

There is something in what he says, particularly in the context of his own attachment to the sector of more than five years, in government and opposition. Labour is now on its third shadow minister of this four-year-old parliament, and there was also a fairly rapid turnover when the party was in power.

Some Labour incumbents have, inevitably, been more interested in their brief than others, and in one or two cases their minds seemed to be mostly elsewhere. This could hardly be said of the current shadow minister, Lisa Nandy, interviewed in Third Sector this week.

Nandy used to work for Centrepoint and the Children's Society, and her main political interests are children and the voluntary sector. She used to be the shadow minister for children and a member of the Education Select Committee; and last October she was moved to cover the sector.

This was a good appointment by the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, who was (fairly briefly) the minister for the third sector when the post was created eight years ago. The anecdotal feedback from Nandy's early forays among the sector is that she "gets it" - to use the current lingo - in a way that most politicians don't.

Her interview with this magazine indicates that she has a strong grasp of the details of sector policy and a healthy commitment to localism. But an extra ingredient is her awareness, no doubt derived from experience, of the importance of people who work in the sector, who are often taken for granted and whose morale has suffered from recent attacks on the sector.

The next election is fast approaching and strong, well-informed voices are needed for the inevitable debate on the role of the sector in society. Labour would do well to wedge that revolving door closed for the foreseeable future.

- Read Third Sector's interview with Lisa Nandy

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