One of the things I experienced during the general election campaign was that in the week or two before polling day I found myself strangely inhibited from expressing cergain views on this blog. It was in part due the need for the representative of a charity to remain politically neutral. I did not want to damage my relationship with those who might be elected into positions of influence for the next four or five years.
There was also the Lobbying Act.
Remaining politically neutral is something that I understand and respect. Being inhibited from speaking because of the Lobbying Act is something I have strongly resented. How dare politicians try to inhibit charities from speaking about the impact policies might have on their beneficiaries. It isn’t as if all politicians are measured and reasonable, objective and rational. In the election campaign some promises were being made that looked plain desperate.
Of course we should never be party political, but there is a million miles between being party political and expressing doubts on, perhaps even outright condemnation of, a particular policy that would have on clients who are homeless, in housing need or living in poverty.
During the election campaign I was asked to host events or to endorse events organised by all three main parties in Brighton and Hove. Of course I declined all such requests, not because of the Lobbying Act but because it wouldn’t have been right to do otherwise.
I was amused by this cartoon, mindful as I was that many a true word is spoken in jest.
Trying to silence critics says more about the inadequacies and insecurities of the political establishment than it does about the critics themselves.
The next four or five years are going to be tough regardless of the election rhetoric. Mature and confident politicians value and even welcome constructive feedback. It might just help them govern better.
(My apologies to Fran and the publishers of this cartoon. I have mislaid my source. Please let me know who I should credit and I will gladly do so).