Little at Large: Ripping yarn of the Compact stuns Honourable Members

Who said the Compact was boring? If you believe Greg Clark, the Tory voluntary sector spokesman, there's some quite racy stuff going on.

Mathew Little
Mathew Little

Government rhetoric is all about the gradual spread of the Compact and how 99 per cent of local authorities are covered by it. According to Clark, the reality is more startling. In the Commons last week, he said: "One chief executive of a charity told me that a major public service commissioner had torn up the Compact in front of her to illustrate the degree of respect he had for it." Time to bring on the Compact Advocacy Programme (and some Sellotape)?

In the same debate, Clark and Francis Maude, the Tories' shadow Cabinet Office minister, gave the Government a hard time over its vacillating position on charities and political campaigning. The Tories accused Labour of orchestrating a campaign to politicise the sector by allowing charities to devote all their resources to political activities. But while Clark and Maude were lambasting the Government, a thick white book was resting on their dispatch box - Breakthrough Britain, the report produced by the Social Policy Group, part of the Centre for Social Justice, the self-defined "centre-right think tank" founded by Tory MPs Iain Duncan Smith, David Willetts and Oliver Letwin. That's the same think tank that applied for charitable status last year. No politicisation there, then.

The sector's fetish for initials has got to the stage where abbreviations are almost as long as the alphabet. The BMEVCO is the latest. One reader suggests using "truth abbreviations" that reveal the reality behind charities, not just their functions. For example, SCED could be Small Charity Egotistical Director, or BCTMCS could be Bloated Charity with Too Much Cash to Spare.

- Mathew Little is a freelance writer. mathew.little@haymarket.com 

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