The relationship between government and civil society has not been good for some years. We have been through fair amounts of conflict and betrayal, and neither party is entirely blameless. Reconciliation is desperately needed, so can we find a way forward? The new Civil Society Strategy seems like a well-timed intervention.
Sue TibballsIs this strategy really just an act of seduction?
The scale and ubiquity of mass and social media have boomed over the past 30 years. We can connect with like-minded people on the other side of the planet, share our personal stories with millions and break a global news story from our phones. Yet civil society hasn’t really cracked a way in which to pursue social change in this arena.
Sue TibballsIt’s time to hand more power to the people
At a recent forum of civil society and business, Matthew Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, told charities “I want to see civil society recover its confidence to speak into our public life, you have the right to campaign, to persuade the public, and to press for change in the systems which affect the life of this country.”
Sue TibballsIs the Lobbying Act working against people’s democratic participation?
In my last column I wrote about Oxfam being described by a former charity minister as a ‘front group for Corbynistas’ and what seemed to me to be a deliberate and dangerous obfuscation of the difference between being ‘political’ and ‘partisan’.
Sue TibballsOxfam reveals vulnerability of charity sector: we must all look to our mission
The former charities minister, Rob Wilson, hasn’t pulled his punches since losing his seat last year. In a recent Daily Telegraph column, he accused Oxfam of disappearing up its own “morally righteous posterior” for issuing a tweet that said “we have an extreme form of capitalism that only works for those at the top”.
Sue TibballsSo Rob Wilson, just who is being partisan here?
On the face of it, the second annual Sheila McKechnie Foundation Campaigner Survey does not make for happy reading. Clearly, charity campaigning is still in the midst of something of a crisis. Yet, dig beneath the headlines and a more complex picture emerges, one that requires us to reflect on ourselves as well as the rest of the world.
If you look back at any significant example of social change, popular culture is very likely to have played a part. Think of that first pre-watershed lesbian kiss on Brookside 20 years ago and the part it will have played in paving the way for equal marriage. The huge impact of Cathy Come Home 50 years ago shifted public attitudes towards those without homes. I grew up with Rock Against Racism and the first LiveAid concert. Sometimes today I tune in to The Archers, which always seems to be tackling another tough social issue.
Sue TibballsWe need better partnerships with the arts
So the government has announced it will not be making any amendments to the lobbying act. It is to go against the advice of its own review, conducted by Lord Hodgson, against the advice of the House of Lords and despite the significant body of evidence showing the damage this ill-conceived and badly drawn legislation has inflicted on the voluntary sector. Brexit is understood to be the primary reason for not making the amendments.
Sue TibballsYes, it matters that the government is ignoring Hodgson