Just how much became apparent when Lord Phillips of Sudbury, one of the party's own peers, tried to enter without a pass. Tired of arguing with the gorillas, he made a dash for it, but three of them dragged him to the floor and detained him for 10 minutes until six police officers arrived and he was finally let in.
The eminent charity lawyer told his captors that this was the way the fascists and communists behaved in the bad old days, and one of them reluctantly agreed with him. "It was a storm in a teacup, but a very significant teacup," he tells At Large. "We're slipping into a culture driven by mistrust and fear, which leads to the lunatic rigidity of the security arrangements at Liverpool."
Impatience with jobsworths and a penchant for direct action are among the qualities that brought Phillips the Third Sector Lifetime Achievement Award last year.
- Lindsay Boswell, departing chief of the Institute of Fundraising, got the usual backhanded compliments at his leaving do. His chair, Paul Amadi, said he was "a delight to work with, but makes lousy tea" and "5ft 6in, but a sector giant". Apparently Boswell, meeting Amadi for lunch between a Treasury appointment and a board meeting, found time to ring and check if he wanted mayo in his sandwich. Now that's how to keep your chair onside.
- Same syndrome at the jolly for Andrew Hind's departure from the Charity Commission. His chair, Dame Suzi Leather, called him "utterly unflamboyant", which was no doubt intended as a compliment. Sir Stuart Etherington of the NCVO thanked him for "always being there when I've been upset, usually late at night". We'll draw a veil over the details.
- Sign of the times at the cash-strapped commission: the latest open board meeting was told that senior staff are to be trained in "delivering bad news".
- Jackie Ballard, chief executive of the RNID, says a crucial factor in the decision to change the name was the ignorance of some members of a focus group. Asked what the charity did, they said: "Isn't it something to do with lifeboats?"
Mathew Little is away. Contact Third Sector at firstname.lastname@example.org