Less than half of Conservative MPs think charities should challenge the government and political parties

5 in 6 Labour MPs disagree as politicians split on charities in politics

  • Just 42% of Conservative MPs think it is acceptable for charities to challenge government policy, with 39% against the idea
  • Only 37% of them feel charities should challenge the policies of political parties, with 46% opposed. The numbers drop to 16% in support and 71% against for a state-funded charity
  • Labour MPs disagree hugely, with 86% in favour of charities challenging government and political parties
  • 73% of Labour MPs feel a state-funded charity challenging the government is acceptable
  • MPs are much more comfortable with charities getting involved by holding parliamentary receptions (91%) (91% Tories, 89% Labour)
  • They are also happy with charities highlighting the effects of a policy on their beneficiaries (77%) (68% Tories, 86% Labour)

Just two in five Conservative MPs think charities should be challenging the government and political parties and more than a third are against it, new research shows. The study, published by research consultancy nfpSynergy, also suggests that almost all Labour MPs are in favour amid deep divisions over charities and their lobbying activities.

The survey of 154 MPs, proportional representative of the House of Commons by party, reveals that just 42% of Conservatives think it is ‘acceptable’ for charities to challenge the policies of government, while 38% find it ‘unacceptable’. When it comes to charities challenging the policies of political parties, just 37% are in favour and 46% are opposed. By contrast, 86% of Labour MPs think charities should be free to do both.

The gap is even wider when it comes to state-funded charities. Just 16% of Conservatives agree they should lobby against policy and 71% feel they should not, while 73% of Labour MPs would support such a move.

The MPs questioned for the research were much more likely to agree on charities holding parliamentary receptions, with 91% of Conservatives and 89% of Labour MPs in favour. The politicians were also more comfortable with charities highlighting the effects of policy on their beneficiaries, with 77% agreeing overall, comprising of 68% of Conservatives and 86% of Labour MPs.

nfpSynergy’s Head of Professional Audiences, Tim Harrison, said:

“This research shows that things are never quite as they seem in politics. Last week Brooks Newmark upset the sector by saying charities should ‘stick to their knitting’ and stay out of politics, yet the vast majority of Conservative MPs believe that charities should hold parliamentary receptions and highlight the effects of policies on their beneficiaries.

Although Labour MPs are unsurprisingly very supportive when in Opposition, there is a fine line that Conservative MPs do not want to see charities cross. Any sight of challenging government policy or entering party politics is not acceptable to them. These are the rather narrow confines within which charities must operate when interacting with the current coalition government. It again highlights the need for neutral, evidence-based campaigns that can be shown to be based on fact, not politics.”

Please see the attached slides for more details.

For further comment from nfpSynergy’s Tim Harrison, please contact him directly on 020 7426 8888 or tim.harrison@nfpsynergy.net

SOURCE: nfpSynergy’s Charity Parliamentary Monitor, which regularly surveys a sample of MPs, proportional by party in the House of Commons. July 2014 wave used.

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MP's views on charities and their political activities

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