The Resolution Foundation, the welfare reform focused think tank which has charitable status, hosted an event this morning at its Westminster offices on the subject of “British politics beyond Brexit: Where are Labour heading?”
According to their website
“Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Jon Trickett will set out his vision for tackling Britain’s big political economy challenges. He will be joined by leading Labour thinkers, including Bridget Phillipson MP, Ayesha Hazarika and Stephen Bush, to discuss what the priorities should be as they prepare for the next general election, whenever that may be.”
Speakers for the event were all Labour supporters, MPs or former staffers; Jon Trickett, Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, Bridget Phillipson, Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, Ayesha Hazarika, former Labour Party special adviser, Stephen Bush, the Labour supporting New Statesman’s political editor, Torsten Bell, Director of the Resolution Foundation and former Ed Miliband adviser when he was leader of the Labour Party. Torsten came up with the “Ed Stone”.
They all obviously advocate voting for the Labour Party. Which is fair enough and Guido has no issue with a think tank examining the Labour Party’s policy options. However given the regulatory warning recently issued to the Institute of Economic Affairs, which said it had breached regulations stipulating that it is unacceptable if “at events, the audience is only addressed by people with the same views on a topic”. Guido put this point to Torsten this morning…
Torsten’s response was that balance can be “judged across sections of things, not in one given event.” That’s not what the Charity Commission’s guidance says…
The official guidance says that charities “must ensure that the charity’s outputs (research reports, articles, seminars and so on) are balanced and neutral” and that “activity would not be permissible if… its purpose is (in essence) political, party political or propagandist.”
Today’s Resolution Foundation event was clearly political and not clearly related to to their charitable objectives “to improve outcomes for people on low and modest incomes. We do this by undertaking original research and economic analysis to understand the challenges they face.” Guido has contacted the Charity Commission to see if they will be warning Torsten likewise in an even-handed* way…
*The Charity Commission’s duty to act consistently and fairly is one of their principles.
“People should be treated fairly and consistently, so that those in similar circumstances are dealt with in a similar way. Any difference in treatment should be justified by the individual circumstances of the case.”