Society Diary: Will charities have to start liking Gina Miller?

21 Apr 2017 Voices

The charity sector: pro-Europe, pro-Remain, pro-Gina Miller?

It’s Friday again, dear reader and, yeah, how was your week? It was probably going along just fine until around about 11:15 am on Tuesday. And then, like some horrible bolt from out the blue, Theresa May only went and called a snap election, didn’t she? Cheers for that, Theresa.  

So, in the spirit of what’s been another trying old week in the ongoing cyclical soap opera that we must all collectively refer to as ‘life’, Society Diary is mostly going to be talking politics this week. Politics, and why 8 June is going to be a truly momentous day for all of the UK.  

We need to talk about Gina

Can you remember, dear reader, what life was like in December 2015? Life was so much simpler then, free of the plodding, daily grind of uncertainty, pain and fear that is Brexit and Trump and Marine Le Pen and… ah, forget it.

It was also easier back then to know what to think of businesswoman, philanthropist and all round litigious malcontent Gina Miller, particularly if you worked in the charity sector. Just prior to Christmas 2015, Miller’s True and Fair Foundation released a report about charity spending helpfully entitled The Hornet’s Nest.

The report basically said that all large charities didn’t spend enough money on charitable activities and anti-charity papers, including the Telegraph, took up the report to cudgel the sector. In response, NCVO, the Charity Commission and just about every other charitable membership body, umbrella organisation and regulator decried the report as deeply flawed, prejudicial and just downright wrong.

However, the binary idea that existed in the sector all that time ago (i.e. Gina Miller = bad) has rather shifted in the last few months. And, like just about every other deeply confusing and frankly annoying thing that has happened in the world since, it’s all down to Brexit.

Yes, Gina Miller has become one of the UK’s most high-profile and effective pro-EU campaigners. She’s been doing a far more competent and demonstrable job of stopping the Tories from driving this country off the fiscal cliff of hard Brexit than either Jeremy Corbyn or Tim Farron has.

First she challenged (and defeated) the government in the High Court over allowing parliament a final vote on the issue and now she’s taken to crowdfunding to raise money to launch a “tactical voting initiative against hard Brexit”.

Diary is now stuck in the position of loving Miller for her Bremaineering, while still having a few suspicions about the report. This column is effectively both unable to like and unable not to like her, at the same time.

It's a bit like quantum mechanics - that bit where an electron passes through two places at the same time. Diary's uncertainty about how to proceed is not just normal uncertainty, but Heisenberg level uncertainty. And it will continue to be that way until we leave the EU, and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle has to be rebranded because it's too foreign, and it becomes Nigel's Uncertainty Principle instead.

The day the votes came in

On June 8, we will see the outcome of a rigorous selection process - one which identifies the best and brightest of our leaders, those seen by the people as most inspirational, who will serve as the future of our country.

People from right across the United Kingdom will come together, their fingernails bitten down to the quick and dressed in their best finery, eagerly awaiting the tallying of the votes that will shape and mould the future of the British Isles for the foreseeable future.

That’s right. It’s our annual Charity Awards!

Also on that day, Theresa May will be returned to government in a landslide, but who cares about that?

It's safe to say that there wasn't universal joy in Society Towers when the Prime Minister called a snap election on the day of our annual awards ceremony, not least because editorial staff tend normally to have quite a light day afterwards, and that might be tricky if there's just been an election.

Although on the plus side, it does mean we get to watch the election at our awards night, on one of the world's biggest tellies.

The choice of date for the snap election also perhaps gives a telling insight into what the PM really means when she says she’s working for a 'shared society' – i.e. a world where we have to share the date of our annual knees up with her party’s quest for total, electoral domination.

We had the date booked first!


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