Little at Large

Boris asks bankers to learn from Scrooge's experience

Mathew Little
Mathew Little

"I pay tribute to the ruthless way you bend us politicians to your will," London Mayor Boris Johnson told London Citizens at the charity's annual assembly last Wednesday.

The gathering, at which faith groups berate the great and the good until they succumb to a list of demands, must be one of the most intimidating audiences our closeted politicians have to face these days. You don't realise just how persuasive nuns can be until you meet them, but Boris still managed some nifty footwork.

While the assembly was calling on financial institutions to take responsibility for the economic crisis, Boris descended into Dickensian homilies. Bankers receiving "stonking" bonuses this Christmas, he intoned, might reflect on the message of A Christmas Carol and mend their ways accordingly.

The thought of Goldman Sachs executives, laden with Christmas turkeys, scouring East End alleyways for disabled children this Yuletide is indeed heart-warming.

* Indignation continues over Angela Smith's unilateral decision to divert the £750,000 Campaign Research Programme into the £16.7m Hardship Fund - a blatant breach of the Compact.

But short of chaining themselves to the Cabinet Office railings, there's not a lot the sector can do. Simon Blake of Compact Voice has written a strongly worded letter to Smith calling for an independent inquiry. An independent inquiry, in other words, launched by Angela Smith into ... er ... Angela Smith. Well, it might work.

- Is it a help or a hindrance for a politician to feature in Richard Kay's Daily Mail gossip column?

Shadow charities minister Nick Hurd was there last week, thanks to his recent divorce and "enchanting new partner" Lady Clare Kerr. The second paragraph mentioned how "handsome Hurd" used to be a model for clothing catalogue Boden: it also managed to mention his charities job, somewhat lower down the story.

* The champagne flowed at last week's Barclays-Third Sector drinks reception for contributors and contacts.

At other banks, a more Spartan regime has taken root. Those present at the recent Charity Finance Directors' Group AGM at the Royal Bank of Scotland HQ were shocked when their participation was rewarded only by copious amounts of orange juice.

No alcohol, they were informed, because the bank is now state-owned. So that's why Barclays spurned the Government bail-out.

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

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