A few days ago an organisation published a piece on social media claiming that the new Labour manifesto was proposing a change to abortion regulations that went way beyond any current provision. The problem with their claim was that it did not appear to be consistent with the context or even of the words of the manifesto. However what seems equally concerning was that the organisation is a charity and this sort of activity could risk being seen to have fallen outside of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill that was passed in early 2014. That said I and many other people are strongly opposed to that law.
Along with the comments made above by Angela Watkinson from 22nd January 2014, Jacob Rees-Mogg spoke very clearly on the 3rd of September 2013 about the value of the Bill: “Charities are not allowed to campaign in general elections, and quite rightly so. Political parties fight hard to raise their money, whether it comes from unions, business or individuals. Why should they not have charitable status, when charities may intervene in elections using the tax they have reclaimed—the extra funds and the status they have as charities—but without standing for election fully? And they cannot: the law does not allow charities to be directly involved in general elections”
It would clearly be helpful for this charity to have focused a bit more carefully on the Labour Manifesto before making the statements it has made even though the charity which is relatively small and probably hasn’t exceeded the £20,000 level in its campaign does not have any full time staff. However one of its Trustees is a Conservative Councillor and they do have a significant number of Patrons (31 in total) all of whom could offer it advice at this time in our General Election Campaign. That is particularly true as some of their patrons are MPs or ex-MPs. They include Jacob Rees-Mogg and five other Tory MPs all but one of whom voted for the Bill and Angela Watkinson and five other ex Tory MPs of whom four including Angela were MPs when the Bill was being passed and they all voted for it. Now to be fair the Patrons are not all MPs and there are even two Labour MPs and one ex Labour MP who all voted against the Bill. It would seem particularly useful for this charity to check with two of its current Labour MP patrons to find out if the manifesto states what their social media is claiming it does.