In the small print of Brown’s Commons Statement yesterday:
Right of charities to campaign
168. …it is important to ensure that the regulatory framework for the third sector, together with the Government’s consultation mechanisms and investments in strengthening the organisational capacity of the sector, help it to foster and harness community voices on important issues of public policy. The Government will therefore work with the Charity Commission, Capacitybuilders and sector leaders to explore the options for enabling charities and other sector organisations to better campaign on issues that are likely to advance the cause of the purposes for which they have been established. As part of this process, the Government will consider the recommendations of the recent report of the independent Advisory Group on Campaigning and the Voluntary Sector, chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC (23 May 2007).
The review was far from independent and was cobbled together by the Treasury last February to report in April – unusually timely and speedily. (Wonder why?) The great and the good on the committee chaired by Helena Kennedy recommended that “Charities should be able to engage in political campaigning in furtherance of their charitable purposes as long as they do not support political parties.”
It might surprise you to learn that Guido supports this move, then again Guido has never seen a tax cut he hasn’t liked. This move might save the Smith Institute’s charitable status, but if campaigning becomes tax-deductible Brown is going to get an awful shock. Right-of-centre pressure groups and campaigns will raise and spend more money than his supporters ever will. It will give political organisations outside the party structures a huge warchest. A lot of people will be far more inclined to give to their causes if it comes off their tax bill…