Tory-led charity guilty of being party political


2:27 pm - July 26th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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A major Conservative-MPs-led charity has been found guilty today by the Charity Commission of not being sufficiently independent from party politics.

The Atlantic Bridge charity was led by leading Tory luminaries such as Liam Fox and William Hague.

It was reported to the Charity Commission by blogger Stephen Newton for party political activity.

The Charity Commission reported today:

The Commission concluded that, although Atlantic Bridge is a charity with exclusively charitable purposes and is capable of operating for the public benefit, its educational objects have not been advanced by its activities because of the way in which it has promoted the ‘Special Relationship’ between the US and the UK.

The promotion of the Special Relationship is not the purpose of the charity and nor can it be. Although it is legitimate for a charity to study, research or educate the public about the ‘Special Relationship’, it is not permissible for a charity to promote a particular pre-determined point of view.

This is a huge victory for one blogger who has been researching and reporting on the charity’s work for months.

He wrote about how Atlantic Bridge’s activities included promoting a book by William Hague, subsidising a dinner for Tory MPs with a Fox News film reviewer in LA and sponsoring trips by Tory MPs to neo-Conservative think tanks in Washington DC.

The Charity Commission has not shut down Atlantic Bridge but has given it 12 months to change.

The charity’s website now says, ‘it is being updated’.

But Stephen Newton is not satisfied. “In no other arena would such a blatant disregard for the law go unpunished,” he says.

Read the Charity Commission’s report here.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


“In no other arena would such a blatant disregard for the law go unpunished,”

Not quite true, but I know what Newton means. The disregard for the law by Fox and Hague in this case is blatant, and there is no justification for them being allowed twelve months to put things right.

FFS. I hate all this ‘special relationship’ bullshit. What’s so special about bending over, spread-eagled, every time old Uncle Sam asks?

[insert your own punchline here]

@3 For Blair, I think it was special in the sense of a “daddy thinks I’m special” way.

Check out this comment piece from Bunting in the Guardian today about DfID under the Coalition government:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/25/tough-defend-aid-budget-backlash

Britain has an opportunity to re-invent itself from a nation of imperial warmongering descent to the planet’s doctor, sending tons of aid that really makes a difference to the most needy.

Who is up for this massive change in direction? I know I am. We’d have our own distinctive identity, and something we could all be proud of. (I think we should tackle domestic poverty too, as a priority)

Looks like a boiler-plate ‘political neutrality’ ruling by the Charities Commission. Your headline is, for example, much stronger than the ruling itself.

The Commission also concluded that the charity’s activities may lead members of the public to call into question its independence from party politics

This is not quite the same as ‘guilty of being party political’, and is what the CC tends to fall back in rather than come to a stronger conclusion – see recent rulings on the LACS or, at risk of whataboutery, the Smith Institute.

It’s nice to see the Charity Commission taking some, even though rather lame, action, for once:

order-order.com/tag/sith/

Smith Institute anyone?

I’m not clear – having read the report – that the CC specifically found party political activity, more than a risk of public perception of that. Given the key finding was that the charity was pursuing a specific goal which was not charitable, you can see how the Atlantic Bridge could easily tweak (I use the word advisably) its activities to ensure compliance. The eye catching bits Newton latched on to – the book launch, for example, could easily come within its charitable activity.

6 – I’d have thought that they could tweak their object to ‘Educating and informing the public about the history of the Special Relationship’. I doubt there would even need to be a major change in output.

@3

“For Blair, I think it was special in the sense of a “daddy thinks I’m special” way.”

I think it had more to do with knowing how much of a killing John Major made by supporting Bush The Elder (his quid pro quo – being made MD of Carlyle Europe – made him many millions). Blair always had a thing for very rich men, in Bush The Younger he saw a way to join their ranks.

Taxpayers Alliance, anyone?

Why the Eisenhower pic? I doubt he would have been happy with the state of modern US. Of course, he looks a bit like Hague.

@9
The irony is that Eisenhower would be considered a flaming liberal in terms of foreign policy by the entirety of his party, and probably by some of the more “conservative” Democrats…

God it would be wonderful to have Eisenhower in charge of the republicans again instead of the nutters we have these days.

Taxpayers Alliance, anyone?

Not a charity.

13. Flowerpower

Yet another example of Labour-appointed quangocrats stirring trouble for the coalition. If Dame Suzi Leather thinks this will make her harder to get rid of, I fear she is mistaken.

Interpreting the special relationship as a specifically Tory thing is perverse. Jimmy Carter told Jim Callaghan it was ‘very special’.

*sigh*

Vitually every charity does some political work, and it is inevitable sometimes that work will cause them to implicitly suggest one particular party might be better on issue X than another. Considering the amount of MPs who are trustees of charities its amazing people still think charities are apolitical, and even more amazing that some people think they should be.

All this does is encourage tit for tat reporting by party political morons. You know full well that this success is just going to encourage the bloggertarians to respond by complaining that homeless charities have attacked housing benefit reforms or some similar thing. Then another right wing group will also be attacked and the cycle will continue.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Guilty! Major Tory charity asked to cease work immediately; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/cxZDpE

  2. Jessica Fitch

    RT @libcon: Guilty! Major Tory charity asked to cease work immediately; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/cxZDpE

  3. Palmer 1984

    RT @libcon: Guilty! Major Tory charity asked to cease work immediately; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/cxZDpE

  4. Chaminda Jayanetti

    RT @libcon: Guilty! Major Tory charity asked to cease work immediately; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/cxZDpE

  5. sponso RING

    Guilty! Major Tory charity asked to cease work immediately; blow …: The Commission concluded that, although Atla… http://bit.ly/aBy4jW

  6. Carl

    “@libcon: Guilty! Major Tory charity asked to cease work immediately; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/cxZDpE” < Hurrah!

  7. sunny hundal

    Major Tory charity Atlantic Bridge found guilty of party political work; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/d5gUHS

  8. Vijay Singh Riyait

    RT @sunny_hundal: Major Tory charity Atlantic Bridge found guilty of party political work; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/d5gUHS

  9. Marjory Smith

    RT @sunny_hundal: Major Tory charity Atlantic Bridge found guilty of party political work; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/d5gUHS

  10. Simon Shrimpton

    RT @sunny_hundal: Major Tory charity Atlantic Bridge found guilty of party political work; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/d5gUHS

  11. Derek Bryant

    RT @sunny_hundal Major Tory charity Atlantic Bridge found guilty of party political work; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/d5gUHS

  12. Talog

    RT @sunny_hundal: Major Tory charity Atlantic Bridge found guilty of party political work; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/d5gUHS

  13. Carole Williams

    RT @sunny_hundal: Major Tory charity Atlantic Bridge found guilty of party political work; blow for Hague http://bit.ly/d5gUHS <~ oo er

  14. Steve Wakefield

    RT @libcon: Guilty! Major Tory charity asked to cease work immediately; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/cxZDpE

  15. Rooftop Jaxx

    RT @sunny_hundal: Major Tory charity Atlantic Bridge found guilty of party political work; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/d5gUHS

  16. Syed Choudhury

    RT @sunny_hundal Major Tory charity Atlantic Bridge found guilty of party political work; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/d5gUHS

  17. Penelope Sprouse

    Charity News Tory-led charity guilty of being party political | Liberal Conspiracy: The Commission concluded that,… http://bit.ly/9vHhxn

  18. Robert Thompson

    “@libcon: Guilty! Major Tory charity asked to cease work immediately; blow for William Hague http://bit.ly/cxZDpE”

  19. Charity

    Tory-led charity guilty of being party political | Liberal Conspiracy: The Commission concluded that, although Atl… http://bit.ly/bVNCB1

  20. Revealed: Liam Fox and Werrity’s links to the Tea Party | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] The charity was founded to promote closer ties between senior Conservatives and their US allies, and was found by the Charity Commission of promoting party-political activity. […]





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