There I was, Saturday night, trying to find something to take my mind off the travesty that is Eurovision, when I came upon this tweet from Clive Chamberlain
I’ve achieved something on Twitter! Blocked by Policy Exchange for continuing to ask who funds them 👍🏼 pic.twitter.com/5OwkNwaOkX
— Clive Chamberlain (@MrCliveC) May 23, 2015
BLOCKED? By Policy Exchange for asking a perfectly valid question? That’s just not cricket. It reminded me that I had previously written a post about Policy Exchange which I knew included where SOME of its funds come from, so I sent him the link. That inspired a series of tweets with various people joining in, and some quite useful information coming out of them. It also made me realise that it was in 2012 that I last had a prod at them. Time for an update methinks. It also got me very wound up about the ethics of Policy Exchange, and those who associate with them, but going back to who funds them; I took another, up to date, look at their website, who funds them, and what do they do? “Policy Exchange is the UK’s leading think tank. As an educational charity our mission is to develop and promote new policy ideas which deliver better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy. The authority and credibility of our research is our greatest asset. Our research is independent and evidence-based and we share our ideas with policy makers from all sides of the political spectrum. Our research is strictly empirical and we do not take commissions. This allows us to be completely independent and make workable policy recommendations. There are numerous examples of where our policy ideas have been taken forward by government. Below are just a few examples
Directly elected police commissioners [I shall be returning to this later in my post]
The pupil premium
Our research predominantly falls under three main themes
Jobs and Growth
Poverty and Social Mobility
So, not much has changed from their website 2 years ago; Charity, Independent, Don’t Take Commissions, blah blah blah. Another part of their website allows access to their official accounts, the most recent posted being 2012-2013. Under income it identifies three types of income; Unrestricted Income, Designated Income and Restricted Income.
Unrestricted Funds – these are available for use at the discretion of the Trustees in the furtherance of the charitable objectives of the Charity.
Designated Funds. – If part of an Unrestricted Fund is earmarked for a particular project it may be designated as a separate fund …….blah blah blah
Restricted Funds – are funds subject to specific restricted conditions imposed by donors of those funds, such as donations given to the charity for specific research programmes and/or projects.
Am I being thick here, or does the definition of Restricted Funds mean the same as Taking A Commission, which they state they don’t do? Any explanations gratefully received. Much has been said about their charitable status, I for one don’t think it’s apropriate, and I’m by no means alone in that.
And their declared income for the year 2012-13?
Unrestricted Funds – £367,982
Designated Funds – £126,000
Restricted Funds – £1,490,473
So unless I’m very much mistaken the vast majority of their income is in the form of Restricted Funds, but they don’t do Commissions. How does that work? Am I wrong? Please correct me if I am.
Peter Kirkham played a blinder recently with this one.
The full quotation is “However, a charity cannot exist for a political purpose, which is any purpose directed at furthering the interests of any political party, or securing or opposing a change in the law, policy or decisions either in this country or abroad”
What the hell else does Policy Exchange exist for except to influence government policy? Even if you call that ‘advice’ it’s still a political purpose, is it not? So why on earth is it allowed the benefits of Charitable Status’? Their accounts contain the following stated ‘Object Of The Charity’ “The non-partisan advancement of education in the economic, social and political sciences and their effect on public policy and the policy making process in the UK and the promotion and publication of objective research”
The next thing to irk me came out of that. With Charitable Status comes immunity to Freedom of Information Act requests. If Think Takes like Policy Exchange (other Think Tanks are available sadly) have immunity from FOI (a piece of legislation that Cameron doesn’t really like any way, and the Home Office’s attitude towards it is dire, woeful) why oh why is Mrs May pushing for it to be extended to cover the Police Federation. Us mortals have had to come to terms with the FOI over the last 15 years, and as a piece of legislation it’s not too bad, it’s the way it’s implemented by various authorities that stinks.
Lest we forget Inspector Raymond Fowler reminded us all of this
— Raymond Fowler (@InspRayFowler) May 24, 2015
Finally, you’ll be pleased to hear, I got to scrutinising the Met’s Hospitality Registers. You must bear in mind that I did only look at the Met’s registers, it would take me a week to look at them all, but the entries I found will no doubt be repeated in a Constabulary near you.
In January 2014 Inspector Cranmer, bless him, head of the Taser Unit, turned down the offer of a lunch with a Cruise company, but did declare that he had accepted a cup of coffee and ONE biscuit.
In March 2014 Sir Bernie Hogan-Who declared a working lunch with Sir John Major
In June 2014 BHH declared that he had accepted a dinner invitation with Wiliam Hague as a Networking opportunity to end sexual violence in conflict zones.
In June 2014 Betsy Stanko, Assistant Director Corporate Development, declared that she had accepted a dinner invitation from Policy Exchange, in order to meet some visitors from USA and Nick Herbert.
In July 2014 BHH declared that he had accepted a dinner invitation from Lord Wasserman [I shall return to this in a minute]
In October 2014 BHH declined a dinner invitation from the Centre For social Justice due to previous diary commitments.
In November 2014 BHH declared that he accepted a Working Lunch with Lord Mandelson.
In November 2014 BHH declined an invitation from Policy Exchange to the Colin Crampton Memorial Awards Event due to Diary Commitments.
In November 2014 AC was invited by Dean Godson, Director, Policy Exchange, to attend the Colin Crampton Memorial Awards Event. He declined the invitation to the event but accepted the invitation to dinner.
In December 2014 AC Rowley declared that he had declined an invitation from Dean Godson, Policy Exchange as he was ‘Unable to Attend’.
In January 2015 BHH declined an invitation from Reform to attend the International Crime and Policing Conference, reason not shown.
I also noted that at least one senior member of Police Staff is declining ALL invitations from the Chemistry Club, no idea what the story is there but good on him.
Reform Think Tank continue to show just how independent they can be with these two tweets last week
Reactionary of the week: Steve White for responding to the Home Secretary’s speech with “the only thing you get with less is less.”
— Reform (@reformthinktank) May 22, 2015
Reformer of the week: Theresa May for continuing to reform the police force to improve outcomes and ensure value for money
— Reform (@reformthinktank) May 22, 2015
Returning to Police and Crime Commissioners and Lord Wasserman as I promised to, Policy Exchange claim to have come up with the idea of them. The BBC gives Lord Wasserman the credit for being the mastermind. They can’t both be right. Was Lord Wasserman connected with Policy Exchange in some way at some time? If so what is Bernard Hogan-Who doing having dinner with him? I was always told that politics and Policing should not mix, but BHH seems to manage it.
Finally, a quick look at the some of the Trustees of this Charity;
The current trustees are a mixture of right-wing journalists and wealthy businessmen. Theodore Agnew, Richard Briance, George Robinson, Edward Sells and Simon Wolfson are all British businessmen who have donated to the Conservative Party. Robert Rosenkranz, an American multi-millionaire financier would be precluded from donating as a foreigner but has provided funding to Policy Exchange and Localis (and the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute[)
Those trustees who are not drawn from the world of business or finance are all affiliated to Britain’s conservative press. Camilla Cavendish is a columnist and leader writer for The Times. Virginia Fraser is the widow of Frank Johnson, a former deputy editor of the The Sunday Telegraph (1995-99) and editor of The Spectator. Alice Thomson is a comment writer at The Times and a former associate editor of the Daily Telegraph and Charles Moore, Policy Exchange’s Chairman, is a former editor of the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, and The Spectator.
Additionally Edward Heathcoat Amory is/was a journalist for the Daily Mail, and at least one if not more is a non-executive director at Dept of Education.
Charitable Status? And all that means. It’s about time someone with enough resources challenged that status, it gives charities a bad name.