More on the Charities Commission and the Brethren

Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail today comments:

With what chewing-gum officialdom knots the shoelaces of its masters.

Take a select committee meeting yesterday examining the charities world.

Our witness was William Shawcross, new chairman of the Charity Commission. Mr Shawcross is successor to Dame Suzi Leather. You remember Dame Suzi: Labour’s little Miss Snippety Snoot, one of the shrewd schmoozers of soft socialism’s posh pod.

It took the Tories a while to strap her to the bucket of a catapult, but eventually they managed it and off Suzi ker-jannnnged, despatched to outer space. Cheers from a relieved nation.


For a third time did the cock fail to crow. This happened during a long, exciting discussion about the commission’s record on religious charities.

Some years ago it recognised druidism as a charity with a public benefit.

And yet now it has refused to grant similar recognition to the Plymouth Brethren (reclusive Christians). Mr Elphicke and his Tory colleagues Robert Halfon  (Harlow) and Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan) were not impressed by this decision.

How come the druids got the green light but the Plymouth Brethren were given the elbow?

Mr Halfon attacked hard, saying that he thought the Commission was ‘vindictive’. Mr Cairns, more diplomatic, urged the newly-arrived Mr Shawcross to demand a rethink from his officials.

I may be misreading Mr Shawcross’s body language but I got the impression that he possibly agreed with Messrs Halfon and Cairns.

And yet he ummed and ahhh’d and played things safe. If he disagreed with the MPs, he could (should) have said: ‘What rubbish!’ If he agreed with them, he should have said ‘you’re right, guys’.

Instead we just had an impression of inertia, of a chairman who has been taken hostage by the body politic.

I was not aware that “druidism” had been designated by the state as a religion of public benefit, I must admit. 

But it does sound like the MP’s are on top of this one.  “Vindictive” is precisely the right term for what Dame Suzi Leather and her sidekicks decided to do to the Exclusive Brethren.


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