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The most important third sector message right now is why our society needs a strong, independent civil society

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29th May 2014 by Susan Smith 0 Comments

The United Kingdom is a democratic nation within a democratic continent that is subject to laws that protect the rights of its citizens to live freely and openly. That’s the plan anyway.

It is upsetting, therefore, that recent laws designed to limit the ability of corporations to buy into the political system actually threaten the freedoms of not-for-profits to campaign. As the Charities Aid Foundation pointed out this week, this move associates the UK with countries with far less evolved social and political systems.

Coming at the same time as UKIP's popularity in Scotland is unveiled, CAF’s report into charity independence around the world is a reminder that we cannot be complacent about our rights and freedoms, even in the UK.

We, as a sector, can’t assume that sense will prevail any more than we, as an electorate, should

Over the last few years, there has been a growing anti-charity movement within UK politics and the media. Debate over the rights of charities to pay staff, to receive government grants, to campaign at certain times and places, and to represent religious groups are all appearing with increasing frequency. 

This is partly a response from those easily threatened by change who see the not-for-profit sector expanding into the traditional realms of the private and the public sector. However, that doesn’t mean these views aren't fundamentally flawed.

We, as a sector, can’t assume that sense will prevail any more than we, as an electorate, can. The most important message the third sector should be promoting right now, therefore, is the importance of a free and unfettered civil society.

Susan Smith is the editor of Third Force News