Nick Hurd began his interview with Third Sector last week with a reference to sailing in difficult winds, and went on to claim "some good runs on the board". We were perhaps lucky to be spared the Eton Boating Song - "swing, swing together, steady from stroke to bow". In the interests of diversification of sporting metaphors, we'd like our next chat with the charities minister to contain references to touching down, hoisting a Garryowen, playing to the whistle, serving an ace, being on the ropes, taking the chequered flag or - best and perhaps most obscure of all - zig-zagging to the onion bag. The clue's in the picture.
- Any suggestion that there's some devilish plan being hatched in Whitehall for the Charity Commission is firmly denied - or should we say kicked into touch? - by the minister. Its chair, Dame Suzi Leather, will be leaving, or heading for the tunnel, at the end of July, and the search for a successor has not yet begun. Hurd insists that "a proper process of recruitment" for this "very demanding brief" will be starting very soon. But At Large is prepared to wager a small sum on a destabilising interregnum for the rather battered regulator.
- The minister plays a dead bat on whether he'll also be moving on soon: "Delighted to stay as long as Dave wants me" etc. He complained in opposition about Labour's revolving door, through which seven ministers passed in eight years, and we're already way beyond the point where they could throw that back at him. He's strolled past Ed Miliband (14 months), Phil Hope (15 months), Alun Michael (17 months) and Fiona Mactaggart (23 months) and the only one left to beat is the daddy of them all, Paul Boateng (a mind-boggling 33 months). We're not betting either way on this one.
- It's a bit ominous that Hurd's representations on the tax relief cap have mainly been to David Gauke, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, who's acquiring the reputation as George Osborne's 'no' man. One meeting last week reportedly consisted of rants from sector luminaries followed by the simple 'n' word from Gauke. One frustrated delegate suggests that he could conserve energy by just sitting there holding a notice emblazoned with the single syllable he uses most.