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Society Diary: Bongs, drugs and undesirables

05 Jul 2019 Voices

Happy Friday, dear readers. It’s another hot weekend, so set yourself up for a couple of days of barbeques, tennis, ineffective fans, heatstroke, and irritation with this week’s dose of Society Diary.

Impact and measurement say the bells of St Paul's 

Charity sector wonk unit, NPC, is known for one thing above all else: a diehard commitment to impact – its importance, its measurement, its, erm, impact. 

Not once in Diary’s many years of half-heartedly paying attention to the output of the research team has anyone at NPC been able to launch a report, discuss a policy development or even have a casual chat without at some point yelling, “IMPACT”. 

So naturally NPC wanted to make sure the launch of its new strategy made an impact.  

And where could be more impactful than a roof terrace in central London on a glorious summer’s evening with excellent views of St Paul’s Cathedral.  

Alas, for NPC wonk-in-chief, Dan Corry, as soon as he started to get into the detail of what we’re sure is an eminently impactful strategy, time caught up with him as the bongs of nearby St Paul's started, drowning out any discussion of theories of change. 

If it’s any comfort, a lot of the maintenance of said bongs is carried out by the St Paul’s Cathedral Foundation, so at least one charity was making an impact. 

‘Magnet for undesirables’

Fresh from attacking a climate change protestor, suspended Foreign Office minister Mark Field has now turned fire on a homelessness charity.

In an email leaked to the Guardian this week, Field called the Passage charity, based in his Westminster constituency a “magnet for these undesirables to flood into Victoria”.

If only Field could have lent his “magnet for undesirables” to Hillary Clinton to deal with her “basket of deplorables”, we may now have different president of the United States.

The Conservative MP made the remark in response to an email from a local resident who complained about the level of antisocial behaviour linked to homeless people in the area.

Field said in his response that he “would endorse every word” of the email he received, which included a complaint that many of the rough sleepers “are not British”, before criticising the Passage for not taking enough responsibility to address the situation.

Diary is sure that Field, who in 2011 bragged on Twitter about physically intimidating a young girl playing music on her phone, had already tried squaring up to the charity himself.

In any case, it is encouraging to see that he has not been publicly shamed into stopping his brave fight against the most powerful in our society.

Rob Wilson on drugs

No politician reaches the dizzy heights of civil society minister without an eye for the unexpected.

Mims Davies, current occupant of the big chair, is a big fan of rhubarb. Tracey Crouch is still the only MP that Diary has ever seen in Portcullis House holding court while wearing full football kit.

And Rob Wilson has taken to drugs. 

He never had a reputation for the spicier side of political debate, but Wilson’s Twitter feed is suddenly awash with drug reform chat. To decriminalise or not to decriminalise? 

They say it takes ex-MPs a while to acclimatise to life away from parliament, but it seems Wilson has finally found a way to rehash his career. 

It’s got to be worth a crack. After all, he’s no dope. And so on, and so on.

This sudden preoccupation might help to explain some of Wilson’s other recent social media activity, too.

Rob has recently outed himself as a fan of those especially peculiar comedy turns starring Keith Lemon and Patsy Kensit, last seen at the end of the noughties where they belonged. Each to their own and all that, but these always seemed to be best enjoyed with the help of some external enhancement or other.

Kensit, a bit of a hell-raiser herself, is actually best known to Diary for a magnificent duet with the Pet Shop Boys. But then, some writers’ lives are even duller than those of ex-ministers.

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