h1_bkg

Baroness Smith of Pitsea?

There was the usual fighting talk when Angela Smith lost her seat at South Basildon and East Thurrock at the election: the seat’s only on loan to you Tories, we’ll be back, and so on.

It may well be that Labour will regain this marginal constituency when the pendulum swings again, but it won’t be in the person of Smith, whose elevation to the Lords was announced in the dissolution honours list. Baroness Smith of Pitsea?

She will be joining a cohort that probably has more extensive knowledge and experience of the sector than their counterparts in the Commons. Think of Lord Phillips, Baroness Pitkeathley, Baroness Barker and more. It will be to the sector’s advantage to have not one but two former ministers joining this outfit – Paul Boateng, who was responsible for the sector before the Office of the Third Sector was created, is also ennobled.

But it will be interesting to see how Smith’s interests play out in the upper chamber. She’s often made it clear that animal rights are a major concern for her: she worked for the League Against Cruel Sports before she went into Parliament in 1997 and she is a patron of the Captive Animals Protection Society.

Given the relative freedom of the red benches, perhaps she’ll focus more on her cause area than the generic concerns of the sector itself.

P.S. It’s reported in the Guardian diary column (so it must be correct) that Smith is arguing that it’s time for the ermine on their lordships’ robes to be fake fur instead of real. Might this be a sign of things to come?

  • AliciaA Sawyer

    interesting

  • Pamela Ball

    Thank you Richard for speaking the unspeakable and leading the call for honest debate and discussion. It is absolutely true that where there has been a lack of financial or real partnership investment infrastructure is now struggling to survive. Infrastructure organisations may be baffled about who they are in this new world and as a good colleague of mine recently said, they may be finding that with regards to entrenched and siloed local authorities ” you cant change ( sic ) those who do not want to change. ”. Where is the charge from the front in infrastructure demanding that we be allowed to help social value groups lead the way on reslience, equality and real partnership ?

  • the observer

    In short, quality infrastructure support to small frontline organisations and others who need it the most is inherently unsustainable and the future of this aspect of the sector is very bleak indeed.

    Infrastructure support requires grant funding as those who most need the help are often by their very definition unable to pay for it. Sadly, infrastructure projects aren’t the most photogenic and will rarely attract donations or be something that gets any wider coverage or support – many outside of the sector don’t even know this kind of thing exists.

    Impact measurement for third sector infrastructure support is at times extremely difficult as the groups who need the support come and go so quickly that it can often be difficult to measure their improvement or do any serious follow-up work.

    At the same time though, infrastructure support organisations have had funding/support from ChangeUp, Capacity Builders, two versions of BASIS, TLI and BIG Assist, and it would be interesting to debate how much better off the sector is as a result.