Park your political views in order to lobby effectively, minister tells charities

Nigel Huddleston also promises he is 'open to anyone coming to us with good ideas'

Nigel Huddleston
Nigel Huddleston

The minister for civil society today urged charity leaders to “park” their political views if they want to lobby the government effectively.

Nigel Huddleston, who has been minister for sport, tourism, heritage and civil society since October, said that the rules on campaigning were “relatively simple”, and that people in the sector who could not put their party political views to one side when lobbying should not be surprised if they “get into a bit of trouble”.

Speaking at an event hosted by the think tank Pro Bono Economics, Huddleston responded to claims that campaigning rules were “controversial” by saying: “I think it is pretty simple and straightforward here.

"You should not be involved in party political campaigning, and it is perfectly fine to campaign on policy areas so long as it is aligned with your objectives as a charity.” 

He added: “Quite frankly, we have all got our own party political views and opinions, but also we are all professionals. 

“Sometimes, when you are conducting your job, you have to park that partisan thing at the door and come in and do a professional job. 

“I expect people to do that. And if they don’t, then don’t be surprised if you get into a bit of trouble, or people complain.”

Huddleston said that in the past he had searched the social media feeds of charity leaders to find they have “very, very, very strong party political views, on both sides of the political spectrum”, but who lobby him “in a perfectly objective way” once they were together.

The minister told the event that the relationship between government and the voluntary sector was “in a good state, but it could be a lot better”. 

Reminding attendees that he needed to persuade officials at the Treasury about any new policies, Huddleston said: “It is all about data. It is all about information. It is all about the evidence. It is all about building a case. 

“Opinions are interesting and nice but you need to back it up.”

In relation to potential government interventions that could help charities, including changes to tax reliefs, Huddleston said: “Personally, I am open to everything there”.

He said: “I make this commitment to the sector. I am open to anyone coming to us with good ideas.”

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