Society Diary: Fat cats, Commission coincidence, and the future of charity

02 Oct 2020 Voices

Pictured is Patrick the cat. His human is the speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

Its been a long old week, so Diary has decided to get the political stuff out of the way first. But if readers are wanting to skip the present and embrace a thrilling future instead, then we also have something for you on the agenda today.

Solidarity with an unknown vox-popper

When Diary sees a vox pop we shudder.

Oh the terror of our first steps in journalism: dispatched to hang out near some traffic lights with a notepad and a cheap camera, waving down pedestrians like a maniac, trying to find someone, anyone willing to talk to us.

In light of this, the Charity Commission annual meeting should have come with a trigger warning. It started with a full two and a half minutes of ordinary folk being vox-popped to find out what they thought about charities.

We didn’t get to see the interviewer behind the camera, but rest assured invisible friend: Diary has been there, we feel your pain.

As for what the vox-popees actually had to say, it was all, well, curiously familiar.

In summary: Charities do good work, and society is better for having lots of charities around; but maybe too much money goes on admin costs, and those big fat salaries are worrying; if only charities was a bit more transparent about all that spending…

Weirdly enough, this is not a million miles from the regulator’s central messaging over the last three years. Coincidence is a funny thing, eh?

Regardless, the vox pops finally ended, Diary finished hyperventilating, and the video threw over to the chair of the regulator, who proceeded to repeat what the public had just said, but with posher words and loads more references to Captain Tom.

Fat cats pet cats battle it out 

As readers will know, Diary always tries to stay politically neutral. But on this occasion we’ve had to break the rules to let readers in on what is probably the most important democratic election in recent history. 

The question we’re all asking – who is to be the next Purr Minister? Fat cats? Aristocats? We’ve had them all.

Battersea has revealed a shortlist of “pawlitical” cats (their pun not Diary’s) vying for votes to be elected the new “Purr Minister” (theirs too, honest). 

While some may not consider it the most important political event of the year, the charity hopes it will bring some light-hearted relief, while “giving cats the recognition they deserve for being such brilliant companions”. Dog lovers can argue over that one as much as they please.

Ten cats belonging to MPs and peers will now fight it out to be named top cat of Westminster. 

This year’s pawssible winners include: the majestic Patrick, owned by the speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle; a rescue tortoiseshell named Collar which belongs to the MP for Lewes, Maria Caulfield; and Scottish MP John Nicolson’s mischievous cat Rojo, who went viral this summer for interrupting a committee hearing over Zoom.

Each cat has a “Manifursto” (Diary might be done out of a job here) outlining why they should be elected and what their policies would be should they win. 

Voting is open until 22 October and the winner will be announced on 27 October. All voting is done online.

The incumbent Purr Minister, Alfie, who is owned by former Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd, is expected to commit to a peaceful transferral of power when the votes come in.

Back to the charity future

Now for some charity news that could have easily been lifted out of 1990s sci-fi film.

Charities are often accused of being behind the times when it comes to technology, but not the Great North Air Ambulance Service, which has been playing with, sorry, testing for serious charity purposes, jet suits.

The suits mean rescuers can FLY to casualties much quicker than trekking up a mountain (it is also “well cool”, as the kids might say).

Diary can’t help but wonder what is next? Could it be time travel? If your charity gained access to the ability to go forwards, or backwards, in time, where would you go? And what would you do?

There are so many possibilities, but don’t forget that charity trustees cannot derive an private benefit from their activity so care should be taken when messing with the timeline, lest the Charity Commission comes knocking.

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