Little at Large: Unusually, the Lords stay awake to thwart sleepwalking protest

Timing is everything in campaigning - something of which Amnesty International was no doubt aware when it decided to organise a Don't Sleepwalk Your Way Into 42 Days' Detention protest in Leeds last Monday to coincide with the House of Lords debate on the issue.

Upstaged: Amnesty's sleepwalking campaign
Upstaged: Amnesty's sleepwalking campaign

The mass sleepwalkers began their somnambulistic parade at 7.15pm. The only problem was that the Lords had already thrown out the Government's 42-day plans by 6.30pm. Still, they say it's wise not to wake sleepwalkers.

It's ironic that even as real charities are rocked by Icelandic bank collapses and plunging donations, the sacred charity appeal has been spoofed. Online payment system Paypal has launched an I'm Not a Charity advertising campaign aimed at the FHM, Nuts and Zoo generation. At a special microsite, people can design their own charity appeal emails, on a tasteful homelessness chic background of torn-up cardboard, in order to broach the delicate subject of asking friends to give back the money they owe. "£10 means nothing to you, but it could mean the world to little John", runs a suggested text. Offended charities might contemplate hitting back with their own I Am a Bleedin' Charity, So Cough Up campaign.

The introduction of the charitable incorporated organisation has been a long, drawn-out affair. A consultation on the regulations was supposed to have been ready in spring, but finally got out of the blocks last week. A launch event was held at the London School of Economics. Symbolically, it didn't all go to plan as the refreshments got stuck in the lift.

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

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