Tristan Blythe: Charities cannot stay quiet on political twists and turns

01 Dec 2023 Voices

By nicklivyi, Adobe

If, as former prime minister Harold Wilson is said to have quipped, a week is a long time in politics, then you could be forgiven for thinking that the past month has been a political eternity. There has certainly been plenty of political news, comments and events.

In terms of official announcements, there has been both the king’s speech and the autumn statement. However, much of the political interest stemmed from comments and moments outside of these.

For example, prior to the king’s speech it was widely reported that the then-home secretary Suella Braverman was planning a crackdown on people experiencing homelessness sleeping in tents. She went as far as to call this “a lifestyle choice” and indicated that she wanted to stop charities handing out tents to these individuals.

This plan did not make it into the king’s speech but Braverman did make it back into the headlines when she wrote an article for the Times that openly criticised the Metropolitan Police’s handling of demonstrations, especially in allowing a pro-Palestine demonstration to take place on Armistice Day.

The article had been submitted to the prime minister’s office for approval before publication – but the published piece did not include amendments that number 10 had wanted made, leading to comments that Braverman’s days as home secretary were surely numbered.

And indeed, this turned out to be true as she was sacked as part of a reshuffle shortly after the article appeared.

While Braverman’s departure from government may not have been a surprise, another element of the reshuffle certainly was. Former prime minister David Cameron made a shock return to politics as foreign secretary (facilitated by accepting a seat in the House of Lords).

All of these events (and there is not space to consider the implications of resignations from the shadow cabinet over Labour’s position on calls for a ceasefire in Gaza) have taken up headlines and brought areas close to many charities’ hearts to the fore (homelessness, overseas development, the right to campaign etc).

The past month has clearly demonstrated that charities cannot afford to ignore the political world or stay quiet on contentious issues which affect them.

Tristan Blythe is the editor of Charity Finance

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