Cultural Playing Field

NCVO Members’ Assembly meeting by Robin Simpson
May 23, 2013, 1:55 pm
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On Thursday I was in Leeds to take part in the NVCO Members’ Assembly meeting. The focus of the meeting was on preparing for the next general election. NCVO Deputy Chief Executive Ben Kernighan explained that NCVO would be consulting its members between June and December 2013, asking what they would want the voluntary sector to be in 2020. Ben spoke about the likelihood of another coalition government after the next election and said this showed the importance of trying to influence all the political parties.

NCVO Chair Martyn Lewis said Prime Ministers love to put their stamp on the voluntary sector by creating some new initiative or agency but he would rather they did something about helping the structures that are there already. NCVO Director of Policy Karl Wilding spoke about the rise of the smaller parties as the vehicle for people’s protest and disaffection with the political system. At the next general election the electorate will be older than it has ever been. This will also be a social media election. It is probably going to be a messy election: the chances of a hung parliament are high.

Judy Robinson, Chief Executive of Involve Yorkshire & Humber, proposed three issues to try to get into the party manifestos: economic policy for the regions; poverty and welfare; and prevention. She suggested that, at this election, the only agenda for the political parties will be the economy and jobs (“it’s the economy, stupid”). Judy also exploded some popular myths about the voluntary sector relating to contracting and procurement, loans, volunteering and IT solutions. She stressed that place matters and spoke about the disproportionate hit on the North, the urban and the poor and the resulting effect on the voluntary sector.

The new NCVO President, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson spoke inspiringly and practically about how to influence the political process. She said it is really important to understand how the smaller parties work and explained the effective role that the House of Lords can play. She also agreed that social media has become very important and explained how jokes fail to come across well in Hansard!

Robin Simpson.

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