Little at Large - Don't barrack Obama - he has friends in the voluntary sector

The US presidential campaign draws to a close next Tuesday, and for Neil Jameson, chief executive of London Citizens, the contest has particular significance.

Jameson trained with the Industrial Areas Foundation in Chicago in 1988 - the same organisation that employed Barack Obama as a community organiser. London Citizens has pioneered community organising in the UK, most famously securing a living wage for cleaners in Canary Wharf. Jameson is hoping Obama remembers his roots: "It will be good to have a friend in the White House," he says.

Becoming Minister for the Third Sector is like learning a new language, the latest incumbent, Kevin Brennan, told an NCVO gathering last week - and you have to be careful not to make any howlers.

To illustrate, he related the story of former PM Tony Blair, who decided to address the members of the French National Assembly in their native tongue. That seemed to go well, so Blair determined to repeat the feat at a news conference. "I admire (ex-Prime Minister of France) Lionel Jospin in many different ways," he intended to tell the assembled hacks in French, only to be greeted with gales of laughter. "I desire Lionel Jospin in many different positions," is what he actually said. Is Brennan a bit of a Brownite, then?

The think tank Politeia seems to believe a government-inspired Charity Commission onslaught against private schools is in the offing, judging by a recent lecture it held. In a leaflet for the event, QC and charity law expert Hubert Picarda was keen to scotch any suggestion that private schools were a cause of inequality. The real culprits for poverty and social exclusion were, he said, "uncontrolled immigration, breakdown of family" and the "exploited, distorting benefits culture".

 - Mathew Little is a freelance writer - mathew.little@haymarket.com

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