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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Minister condemns Scots Tory for attacking third sector

This news post is over 5 years old

Angela Constance backs Scotland's third sector in the wake of spurious tabloid attack

An attack by a London-based tabloid on Scotland’s third sector has been branded “offensive and disrespectful” by a Scottish Government minister.

Angela Constance, the cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities, was responding to SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands Maree Todd’s question tabled in in parliament.

Todd asked the minister to condemn a tranche of stories run last month by the Daily Mail depicting the sector as siding with “SNP paymasters”.

The articles, which were full of inaccuracies and half-truths, implied influential organisations in the third sector were mere “sock puppets in the SNP government’s pocket” for being in receipt of tax payers’ cash.

However Constance said she regarded voluntary organisations as “pillars of the community” which were placed “at the forefront of community-led action to tackle poverty and inequality.”

And she condemned Annie Wells, the Tory equalities’ spokesperson, for giving credence to the stories by supplying a comment piece to the paper headlined “We must tackle this scandal or charity giving will fade away.”

She said: “I personally found some of the stories that appeared in the press offensive and disrespectful to the thousands of staff and volunteers who work very hard for charitable causes up and down the country.

“Of course, the press and journalists are absolutely free to say and do as they wish; I would not want to interfere with that in any way. However, I was somewhat disappointed that a Tory member aided and abetted what I perceive to be a slur on an entire sector.

“They are a pillar of our democratic and transparent society. They are not afraid to speak truth to power, whoever is in power, and they are at the forefront of community-led action to tackle poverty and inequality.”

They are not afraid to speak truth to power, whoever is in power - Angela Constance

John Downie, director of public affairs at SCVO, wrote to Wells to complain about the opinion piece.

He said the article gave credence to the newspaper's "fake news" claims that many of Scotland’s third sector organisations are sock puppets for the Scottish Government.

In his letter, Downie pointed out that “Scotland benefits from an engaged and diverse policy development culture, with charities routinely injecting evidence, narratives and life into the work of the Scottish Parliament.

“Indeed, as a member of the Equalities and Human Rights Committee, you have personally benefited from the wisdom of many fine Scottish third sector organisations – including RNIB Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland, Enable Scotland and Rape Crisis Scotland.

“Without the input and ideas of such organisations, the policy making process, committee reports, legislation and even party manifestos would be far less robust and dynamic.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “In her piece, Annie reserved criticism for corrupt charities, or organisations that spent far too much on wages for senior staff.

“If Angela Constance disagrees with that, I’m sure fundraisers across Scotland would be very interested to hear why.”



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over 5 years ago
A bit rich another mouthy Tory saying her comments were reserved for the 'corrupt' charities. Her comments did not make that plain and it is just more of the usual Tory propaganda. Also, just how much 'corruption' are we supposed to put up with from the Tories - they dodge paying billions in taxes, regularly put out lies/falsehoods/misleading stories and statistics, and expect us all to fall for the 'all in this together' when the gap between the rich and the poor is greatly accelerating and the UK national debt has tripled during 'austerity'. Very much time for UK politicians to wake up and smell the coffee - at some point soon the public will start to revolt.