Little at Large: Ring, ring: charity fines prompt MPs to switch off

Greg Mulholland MP hit on what might have been a nice little earner for the sector.

Observing culture secretary Andy Burnham repeatedly interrupted by Tory John Whittingdale's Blackberry in the Commons, the Lib Dem member for Leeds North West proposed that when an MP's mobile rings in the chamber they should make a donation to charity. In Mulholland's home city, councillors whose mobiles ring in meetings are fined and the proceeds go to brain tumour charity Andrea's Gift. Sadly, the thought of coughing up for charity has concentrated MPs' minds - only £20 has been raised so far this year.

- Don't bite the hand that feeds you, they say. In the US, you're advised to publicly stroke it - particularly if it belongs to billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the 'philanthro-capitalist' and mayor of New York. Determined to stand again for mayor, Bloomberg needed the city council to change the law to permit a third term. And who better to make the case than some of the charities that benefit from his philanthropic largesse? Several non-profit leaders were requested by Bloomberg's aides to testify at public hearings and appeal to council members, which helped swing the vote in his favour.

- Third Sector columnist Craig Dearden-Phillips spoke at the London Voluntary Service Council conference last week, but the audience wasn't exactly to his taste. "It was a bit like a fringe meeting at a Labour Party conference, circa 1982," he wrote on his blog. Which is a bit hard on Elizabeth Balgobin, chief executive of the LVSC, who has never reminded anyone of Michael Foot.

- A sense of humour seems to be one of the attributes of Kevin Brennan, new third sector minister - assuming that his Sarah Palin mug is a joke.

 - Mathew Little is a freelance writer

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