Thursday, February 15, 2007

Just thinking might be a start

There's a post over at Comment is Free by Will Hutton in defence of the Smith Institute (the entirely non-politically aligned think tank that has met in no.11 Downing Street some 211 times, meanwhile tiding Ed Balls over between the Civil Service and the House of Commons) which manages to miss the point entirely.

Politics and politicians do not deserve to be relegated to pariah status, unable to claim the financial advantages of charitable status because how they learn or inform themselves is regarded as somehow less honourable than straightforward good work.

Well, Will Hutton may not like it, but the law as it stands holds that political purposes are inherently non-charitable. He also complains that even

If some strictly out-of-order remarks were made at a seminar (Bob Shrum, a Democrat campaigner, is alleged to have said that David Cameron was "an empty opportunist who would do anything to win"), a full-blooded investigation attracting high-profile media interest is to break a butterfly upon a wheel. Thinktanks will have values, and that will lead to political orientations. Nothing could be more natural, or more proper.

Well, allow me to advert him to the paragraph 23 of the 1995 guidance for the Charities Act that states: the charity may influence government and public opinion, though it should only do so through accurate, well founded and reasoned argument based upon research or experience, and then only upon a matter directly related to the charity's purpose or the charitable sector as a whole.

It is, as ever, the commentators who take the breath away, with an astonishing array of non-sequitors and general missing the pointness. Take 'altrui' - a reliably ignorant leftist of the old school:

The appalling double standards of the Tories over this is [sic] pathetic. Thatcher and Joseph had their own think-tank, The Centre for Policy Studies (a limited company). Which is worse, allowing a charity or a company use government offices?

It's the tax status - how can this point not be seen?

Next for a real humdinger it's 'frog2':

Not long ago the BBC regularly interviewed Niall Ferguson of the US Heritage Foundation, and surprisingly(!) his views were from the American Right. But the Beeb introduced him as one would an academic. Dare I say, a 'real' academic ?

That would be Niall Ferguson, Lawrence Tisch Professor at Harvard? Lately of Jesus College Oxford? Author of innumerable peer-reviewed articles and several significant books (as well as a few television programmes but sh!). Do only Professors of Peace Studies at South Bank University qualify as academics these days?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The one that took my breath away was from "Tzimisces" the "academic economist". You'd think that academic Marxist economists would keep a low profile after trashing the odd continent, but no...

7:46 pm  

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