Whooping it up in Westminster, Baltimore and sunny Bahrain

Someone like Whoopi Goldberg could lighten the mood at the Institute of Fundraising's national convention
Someone like Whoopi Goldberg could lighten the mood at the Institute of Fundraising's national convention

Political wonks will know that the Labour Party, unlike the Tories, has never had a female leader, although female deputies have become familiar. But this election is highly unpredictable, as is its aftermath. Cut to the recent sector hustings in Westminster organised by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, where Lisa Nandy pointed out that one of her predecessors as shadow charities minister was one Ed Miliband. "Four years later, he was leader of the Labour Party, so watch this space," she joked. It might take a bit more than four years, but who would rule anything out these days?

The star attraction at the annual US bunfight of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Baltimore, Maryland, at the end of March is the zany Hollywood star Whoopi Goldberg. How about someone similar to lighten the mood at the Institute of Fundraising's national convention in July? Jennifer Saunders? Jane Horrocks? Su Pollard? Russell Brand, even?

"The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales." How many times have you read that mantra, designed to confirm that the regulator goes its own way despite being a non-ministerial government department? It's unfortunate, therefore, that gov.uk, the website the commission was obliged to join against its will, manages to convey a different impression. The site evidently requires every item to have a tag from a pre-set list, and several of the watchdog's latest releases are tagged "government response" - including its controversial statement about the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. That's a one-size-fits-all website for you.

Some commission staff have been lucky enough to get away from it all recently with multiple trips to sunny Bahrain, revealed in the list of spending of more than £500 that public bodies now have to reveal. The Foreign Office is funding a programme for it to help the Ministry for Social Development "provide an enabling environment for local NGOs". The commission says: "We have been encouraged to stay at the Sheraton both for security reasons and because it is next door to the British Embassy and not too far from the Ministry." It's a hard life.

Citizens north of the border might find it difficult to get a cigarette paper between the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Scottish National Party - hence the former's sobriquet YesCVO. Now that body is calling for devolution of the self-regulation of fundraising, prompting speculation about whether the Institute of Fundraising Scotland will one day be known as the Och IoF.

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