Opinion: Giving Gordon B the benefit of my doubts

As you know, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been trawling Third Sector's columnists to fill his government of all the talents. Much I cannot say, but someone else will be in this space next week.

Nick Cater
Nick Cater
Meanwhile, do pay attention at the back, because there will be a test later about what has featured here since, gosh, April 2005, from voloscepticism to flatlining fundraising. But before that, we should consider the advice that someone needs to offer dour-is-the-new-Brown.

The first point might be that we all enjoyed the joke in finding our faith rewarded with the previously unremarkable Phil Hope as minister for charity.

Perhaps one day a politician can be found who does not treat the charity portfolio as a bus stop against which to lean while they wait for better things to come by. Talking of ministers, surely twice-resigned David Blunkett is the wrong person to coordinate the voluntary sector dimension of Labour's next manifesto? Leaving aside his relentless plugging of Community Service Volunteers - no surprise as he is best of friends with CSV boss Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, as is Lord Levy - his politically-inspired pressure on lottery grant distributors over asylum charities should rule him out.

Incidentally, if you can review plans for a gambling den in Manchester, you can take a long, hard look at the Camelot Casino under millionaire chief executive Dianne Thompson, and stop the Olympic lottery looting.

Finally, Brown ought by now to have too much on his plate to continue his Budget-day trick of lobbing last-minute grenades into the charity arena - Year of the Volunteer comes to mind, for one. He should be warned that between the public benefit test, a widening voluntary sector wealth gap, Compact woes and more, no new initiatives of any kind are required.

Indeed, since charity is often ill-served by today's endlessly churning political environment, the message might be summed up as "don't just do something, stand there". Or even "a rest is far, far better than a change".

PS: No, I am not about to join any government. But I have very much appreciated receiving the stream of your ideas for this space by email or personally at events where I have been speaking - thank you - so suggestions are welcomed for both a new media-resources-and-more column and for suitable interview candidates to face Third Sector's third degree.

- Nick Cater is a consultant, speaker and writer: catercharity@yahoo.co.uk

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