CAF’s Campaigns team has spent the week at Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, and on Tuesday night we launched The Blue Book of the Voluntary Sector – a collection of essays from Conservative MPs and thinkers looking at issues facing the charity sector and their thoughts on action government can take to help charities and voluntary groups in the years ahead.
Our fringe, in partnership with ACEVO, took place in a packed hall 6A in the ICC, and interest in the publication and the ideas contained within was high across the whole of conference. The event began with the ACEVO Chief Executive Sir Stephen Bubb providing introductory comments, including welcoming the new Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson MP, who had kindly agreed to come along and speak just a few days after stepping into his new role.
Chairing the event, CAF’s Chief Executive John Low asked Mr Wilson to speak first, who used the platform to introduce himself to the number of charity representatives in the room and convey his interest in his new brief. Next to speak was Dominic Raab MP, whose contribution in the collection focused on payment by results, whilst also drawing inspiration from his experience with the charity Fight for Peace which, he explained, helps to develop young people by getting them to participate in martial arts.
Communities and Local Government Penny Mordaunt MP followed, praising the work of community leaders and setting out her vision for the relationship between charities and local authorities based upon her experiences, both as an MP and a minister. Next up was Chris White, and the author of the Social Value Act praised the way it has been implemented whilst acknowledging that there is potential for further strengthening of the legislation. Finally John Glen MP spoke of the need to create a ‘robust society,’ with particular praise for the work of religious institutions in creating a charitable environment.
Following the speakers, the Chair presided over an interesting question and answer session, covering a range of topics including the success of the National Citizen Service, ways of engaging more young people in giving and social action, and the impact of the Lobbying Act on the ability of charities to campaign. All MPs were also asked to give one manifesto commitment they’d like to see their party commit to – some ideas for David Cameron and his team to consider! The essays in the collection focus on a range of interesting topics, and the Blue Book is definitely worth a read for those with an interest in the future of the sector in the years ahead.
We’ve now published both the Red Book and the Blue Book (which you can download by clicking on the links), and next week we’ll be launching the Yellow Book in Glasgow. Featuring a foreword from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and contributions from popular Liberal Democrat MPs such as Norman Lamb and Julian Huppert, it provides an idea of the policies that the Conservative’s coalition partners would seek to implement if handed the keys to No 10 next year. We’ll then be watching with interest to see how the ideas contained within each are received by each party’s policy teams, and which suggestions make it into manifestos. Stay tuned for updates…