Little at large

How did the Tories get wind of community organisers?

Mathew Little
Mathew Little

- The proposal in the Conservatives' civil society manifesto to create 5,000 community organisers in neighbourhoods across the UK is inspired by the unlikely figure of Saul Alinksy, the legendary US campaigner whose Industrial Areas Foundation trained the young Barack Obama. Alinsky isn't the most natural Conservative role model, it has to be said. He made many enemies in campaigns against slum landlords, poverty wages and racial segregation, and once checked into a motel to discover that every other guest had been sent either by a major corporation or the government to keep tabs on him.

He is also the only campaigner in history to argue for the use of flatulence as a political weapon, once proposing the novel tactic of feeding 100 anti-racism campaigners a meal consisting solely of baked beans before they attended a concert by a New York symphony orchestra. Let's hope his progeny over here have the same rebellious spirit.

- Leukaemia charity the Anthony Nolan Trust, meanwhile, is looking to cinema for inspiration. Last week, it proudly announced the launch of the charity sector's first 3D website in an attempt to capitalise on the popularity of the James Cameron blockbuster Avatar. "We felt it was time to try something totally new to help us reach a younger and more technologically savvy audience," said part-time chief executive Lila Froop, who works for the charity one day a year.

- The moveable feast that is the Government's third sector action plan, Real Help for Communities, is again shimmering seductively before our eyes. It was originally trailed as a £42.5m fund, but the Office of the Third Sector admitted it was only £40.5m. Somehow, however, the first figure stuck in Government pronouncements. Now, after a series of questions from the Directory of Social Change, third sector minister Angela Smith says the fund is "up to £42m" - a marvellously elastic phrase that could mean nothing, everything or somewhere in between.

- The Local Government Association's list of words and phrases that the public sector shouldn't use went through its annual refresh (whoops, another one there) recently. Apparently "funding stream" is misleading. From 2011, surely it should be "funding trickle".

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

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