Little at large

Let's hear it for volunteering as Richard Curtis comes under fire

- "V doesn't shout loud enough about what it does," third sector minister Angela Smith told the volunteering 'hustings' last week. I'm not sure how loud is loud enough, but the youth volunteering charity doesn't come across as a shrinking violet.

It employs PR agency Shine, for a start, which boasts Evian, Cadbury and Vodafone among its recent clients. It has attempted to break the record for the world's biggest back massage, reclaimed the 'hoodie' and installed a robot in the House of Commons (frequently mistaken for Geoff Hoon), which has an arm that writes out messages to MPs. So you do get quite a lot of noise already for that £150m.

- Civil society, hitherto an abstract notion debated by academics, may belatedly have acquired some real-world meaning with the Robin Hood tax campaign.

The backers, spanning charities from Barnardo's and the Salvation Army to the RSPB, are probably the most eclectic bunch of voluntary organisations ever brought together under one roof. "There must be more robins and blue tits banking with HSBC than we've realised," says polemical journalist Stephen Pollard in a lengthy rant against the campaign in The Spectator. But the principal target of his animosity is the architect of the Robin Hood tax big tent, campaigner and film-maker Richard Curtis.

And it's true that Curtis has an unerring ability to turn political issues into uncontroversial topics that don't scare the horses in Tunbridge Wells - or the trustees of bird charities. The tax formerly known as Tobin was once, after all, the province of more radical charities such as War on Want. He also made the cancellation of third world debt universally acceptable. The process probably deserves its own word - Curtisisation.

- David Wright MP, a Government whip, recently excused an abusive tweet about the Conservatives by saying he'd been a victim of hacking.

But he isn't the only one. Navca's Kevin Curley had to reassure followers last week after some errant tweets in his name. And the Commission for the Compact last week sent out a missive recommending a particular website for better sex.

Presumably, its account had also been hacked into - unless Viagra has become the last, desperate attempt to reinvigorate the increasingly flaccid Compact.

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

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