Cultural Playing Field

NCVO Members’ Assembly meeting by Robin Simpson
May 21, 2010, 1:35 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , ,

On Thursday I was in London to take part in a meeting of the NCVO Members’ Assembly. The meeting explored the implications of the result of the general election for NCVO, its member organisations and civil society. Three guest speakers provided a fascinating overview of the new political and financial environment. Nick Seddon, Deputy Director of Reform, described the national deficit as a “herd of elephants in the room”. Politically he told us to expect to see continuity rather than change in the Government’s approach to the Third Sector/Civil Society. Dame Clare Tickell, Chief Executive of Action for Children, said there is “a lot of white noise around at the moment” and that we need to “wait until the white noise crystallises”. She thought that anything that involved consensus-building was genuinely progressive. Neil Jameson, Executive Director of Citizens UK, said this is “a great time for civil society” but was not sure it would be so good for the voluntary sector – and didn’t think these were the same thing. He felt that “politics has never been more exciting” but reminded everyone that Government is a servant of the people. We then broke into groups to discuss the current opportunities and threats both to our own organisations and to NCVO. It was a really interesting day and we covered a lot of ground. One of the key points that stood out for me was the need for NCVO to consider its potential conflict of interest in trying to represent its member organisations at the same time as trying to support civil society as a whole – which is as much about “people just doing stuff” (as Nick Seddon described it) as organisations. Interesting and challenging times ahead …

Robin Simpson.

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