The Charity Commission seems to be following the Government agenda. Its head is William Shawcross, hagiographer of the Queen Mother and defender of neocon wars, torture and Guantanamo Bay. He has been known to attack Amnesty International, human rights lawyers and activists. Under his leadership, all Muslim charities are being tested and scrutinised to the limit and many non-Muslim organisations feel they are suspected of being left wing and insubordinate.
His appointment was extended this year despite severe criticisms of the Commission’s financial management by the National Audit office. This man of the establishment is the right man in the right place for an ideologically driven right-wing government. The board he has put together reflects those values. Lesley-Anne Alexander, CEO of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, speaks for many who remain silent: “The Commission aren’t cherishing the sector or the sector’s independence, they are fettering it.”
The UK has more than 160,000 charities. Some have failed to deliver, but most are crucial to the well being of millions and remarkably effective. Once a counterforce to state control, now most are being pressured by the state into becoming apolitical, compliant, low cost providers of services.
A “civil society” is defined as “the aggregate of NGOs and institutions that manifest the interests and will of citizens and individuals, independent of government”. We once were a civil society. Not any more. Soon there will be no such thing as a society. And Margaret Thatcher’s revolution will be complete.