Resolution Foundation Flouts Charity Commission’s New Political Ruling

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.”

Small Victory for Guido’s Think Tank Transparency Campaign

Followers of Guido on Twitter will be aware of his long-running campaign against the BBC prefixing introductions that frame the think tank guest for the listener or viewer. It always seems to Guido that centrist think tanks are described as “respected” as in “the respected IFS”, right-of-centre think tanks are described as “right-wing” [boo, hiss], left-wing think tanks tend to get no framing.

So it was this morning as the news presenter on Radio 4 reported on a press release from the think tank run by Ed Miliband’s former policy adviser:

Then as if by magic in the next news bulletin;

 

Victory! They suffixed the Resolution Foundation as “left-leaning”.

The serious point is that this framing by the BBC is uneven. The BBC clearly thinks that viewers and listeners are too stupid to know where guests are coming from politically. Guido thinks they should let the audience judge for themselves and so long as there are guests from across the spectrum, balance will be maintained. If they won’t do that perhaps they should let guests self-identify…

May Speech Summed Up

Torsten Bell sums up the speech:

“So basically Theresa May saying she’ll do as soft a Brexit as she can outside single market and customs union – but will leave a future Prime Minister free to go all hard brexit if they fancy it.”

Ironically Torsten Cheers Chancellor Tearing Up Manifesto Promise


Is Guido the only one who thinks it ironic that it is Torsten Bell, a wonk from the Resolution Foundation, who is touring the news studios applauding the Chancellor for breaking the Tory manifesto promise not to hike NI contributions? He was, when he was an adviser to Ed Miliband, the architect of the Ed Stone, which literally carved Labour’s 2015 manifesto promises into stone. The idea was to convince voters to trust Labour to keep their manifesto promises by putting them into a permanent form…

Miliband Advisor Quizzed About Edstone

Torsten Bell, Ed Miliband’s former policy advisor was on The Daily Politics today, where he was subjected to a few choice questions about the Edstone.

So we’re still none the wiser as to which genius came up with the idea…

Workplace Bullying in Miliband’s Office

Readers will remember Torsten Henricson-Bell, the Miliband adviser who famously misdirected a revealing email about Ed Balls being anightmare to a Tory MP. Things haven’t gone much better for Torsten since fellow Miliband aides discovered a student dalliance he had with the Young Conservatives.

They have affectionately nicknamed him “Tory Bell-end”.

Labour’s Not So New Directors

After a big recruitment campaign, the new £65,000-a-year directors of the Labour Party are set to be unveiled next week, and they seem to have recruited from within. As Guido understands it, the three leading directors are likely to be:

  • Director of Communications: Bob Roberts.
    Currently Ed’s press man, this is a good move sideways and sort of upwards for the former Mirror Political Editor, some confusion as to if he wants to stay in the Norman Shaw building’s leaders office rather than go to the Labour HQ. Also means his career in the party is not over with a change of leader.

  • Director of Strategy: Greg Beales
    Currently Ed’s policy wonk and general consigliere. His other quarter is Katie Myler, the daughter of the former Screws editor Colin. Not much change here. 
  • Director of Policy: Torsten Henricson-Bell
    This former Alistair Darling SpAd was on the inside when they “not only saved the world, but saved the banks too”. He’s been sniffing around for a seat since. He didn’t go far away, and has been advising Ed on economic policy.

There are other less exciting back room roles, but these three will be the significant players. The biggest loser of this reorganisation is the unfortunately titled “Director of Strategy and Communications” Tom Baldwin, who has effectively had his job divided up and handed to other people, in particular Tim Livesey, the former diplomat and adviser to the archbishop. When Tom started, it was made very clear that he was Bob Robert’s boss. It doesn’t really look that way any more…

UPDATE: According to LabourList, who are now catching up with us on this story, Beales will stay in the leader’s office. They also reveal Patrick Heneghan for Field ops and Emilie Oldknow for the dubiously named Governance and Services Director.

UPDATE II: Or not:

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Councillor John Thomas, Keith Vaz’s Leicester East Constituency Labour Party Chairman says…

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