Labour MPs are significantly more likely to believe it is acceptable for charities to challenge government policy than their Conservative counterparts, new research shows.
A July survey of 154 MPs by the research consultancy nfpSynergy found that 86 per cent of Labour MPs said they thought it was somewhat or definitely acceptable for charities to challenge government policy, compared with 42 per cent of Conservative respondents.
The gap was even wider for state-funded charities, with only 16 per cent of Conservatives thinking it was acceptable for them to challenge policy, compared with 73 per cent of Labour MPs.
The survey found that 37 per cent of Tory respondents thought it was acceptable for charities to challenge political parties’ policies, compared with 86 per cent of Labour MPs.
Individual responses, which were given anonymously, included one MP who said charities in the overseas aid and international development sector needed to "stick to your work and you will be fine, pay staff less and do not do party political stuff".
Tim Harrison, head of professional audiences at nfpSynergy, who worked on the research, said that the Tories’ role in the coalition government had an effect on the results. "It’s probably a factor that the Conservatives are in government, while the opposition would quite like to see charities campaigning against government policies," he said.
The results have been proportionally weighted by party to be representative of the House of Commons. Liberal Democrat MPs were not included in the breakdown because of the small sample size.