Little at large

Three shiny manifestos - but not a lot to sing about

Mathew Little
Mathew Little

- In case you didn't notice, it was manifesto time last week, and all the main parties devoted a section to charities (the Tories also wrote a whole extra letter to the voluntary sector, which sadly didn't begin "Dear voluntary sector..."). So have deep ideological chasms been exposed? Or is it more the case that you can't slip the proverbial Rizla between them? The test is whether you can guess which party's manifesto each of the following five snippets comes from:

1. "We believe society is strengthened by communities coming together and engaging in voluntary activity, which sets people and neighbourhoods free to tackle local problems."

2. "Britain has a proud and long-standing charitable tradition, and we are convinced that the voluntary sector should play a major part in our civic renewal."

3. "We strongly value the independence of the voluntary and community sector, including its campaigning role, and will act to maintain it."

4. "The voluntary sector is a tremendous source of good, but it sometimes lacks resources and influence. So while we back the private and voluntary sectors, they will not achieve a fair and sustainable society on their own."

5. "It is proposed that people should have a free go on the National Lottery when they go and vote."

Answers at the page.

- Angela Smith might not be regarded as much of a Compact Champion after she blatantly breached it by axeing the Campaigning Research Programme. But she did distinguish herself last week by becoming one of the few parliamentary candidates to actually log on to the Compact Voice website and respond to a series of questions about it. Full of typos - but then, she is a busy woman just now. Among the sector-related candidates needing a bit of a prod are Nick Hurd, Jenny Willott, Francis Maude, Greg Clark, Phil Hope...

- Jon Scourse's decision to leave the Fundraising Standards Board to concentrate on singing is, apparently, not that unusual (30 March, Little at Large). According to Maurice Wren, director of Asylum Aid, choral singing is "a significant sub-stratum" of the voluntary and community sector. "I know a good few NGO and charity people who share this extensive hinterland," he says. "Perhaps now is the time for the Third Sector Singers to explode onto the world?" Wren himself belongs to a London chamber choir whose next performance - part of a series on the seven deadly sins - is a musical interpretation of sloth.

Answers: 1 Liberal Democrats 2 Conservatives 3 Labour 4 Green 5 Monster Raving Loony

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

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