Brooks Newmark “knits” himself a noose

 Brooks Newmark the minister for civil society

Brooks Newmark the minister for civil society has landed himself in hot water with charitable organisations after it was alleged he suggested they stay out of political affairs and stick to their knitting.

The controversial statement came about during a London conference where attendees questioned Newmark on whether he sympathised with the charity commission board’s efforts, to which he responded “[Charities] should stick to their knitting.”

Unsurprisingly, the minister’s patronising answer was met with outrage, in particular by Frances Cook of the crime-prevention Howard League for Penal Reform charity, who took to social media to accuse Newmark of serious discrimination, posting:

 “Incredibly insulting for charities minister to tell civil society to ‘stick to its knitting’, and I think sexist too.”

Newmark’s interpretation of how charities should conduct themselves suggested he was reluctant for philanthropic businesses’  to leverage political affairs in order to further their cause. Newmark attempted to reassert his support for charities, whilst inhibiting their political voice, saying:

 “Charities, with all their expertise, have an important role to play in helping to shape government policy, while they have the right to campaign, they should stay out of the realm of party politics.”

Despite Newmark’s comments many have been quick to reaffirm the important role charities play in broader political agendas. Shadow secretary of civil society Lisa Nandy defended charities, saying:

 “Telling charities to stick to their knitting is patronising and deeply offensive, especially at a time when they are picking up the pieces from this government’s unfair policies.”

On the other hand there are some who have defended Newmark suggesting that his comments were only offensive when taken out of context.

Sir Stephen Bubb, head of the charity chief executives body Acevo supported Newmark, saying:

 “He is not attacking our right to campaign, and we can take his words as encouragement to keep speaking truth to power.”


Words: Daniel Pearce


Source: Third Sector

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