Daniel Korski

Poverty NGO or Labour stooge?

Poverty NGO or Labour stooge?
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While I worked at DfiD, officials were very keen to disabuse me of my suspicion that some NGOs are in fact not focused on a politically-neutral campaign to end worldwide poverty but are instead extensions of the Labour movement. They may be staffed by Labour supporters, run by ex-Labour advisers or just be used to working with a Labour government; but they were not corporately aligned in any way. Or so I was told. And I was happy to believe it.

But what is this? War on Want and the Jubilee Debt Campaign - two supposedly internationally-focused NGOs - are said to have joined forces with the protest organisation UK Uncut to fight the Coalition Government's deficit reduction. As the Guardian reported: "In a sign of UK Uncut's expanding popularity, they have secured the backing of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, and of War on Want."

If this is true - I say if - the government would be well within its rights to end all contact with and any support it may have given to these two NGOs. Any letter bearing the NGO logos should automatically be binned if it arrives at DfiD HQ, and any staff contact during working hours should be banned. If the two NGOs have a charitable status which supposes political neutrality this should immediately be investigated by the Charity Commission.

The government is right to work with all manor of organisations in the fight against global poverty, including the Labour Party and the TUC. But it is unacceptable for NGOs to pretend they are politically-neutral, reap the benefits of such a status, and at the same time pursue a nakedly partisan agenda. Such outfits deceive the public and discredit the work of those NGOs who are in fact strictly neutral.