Garry’s July Blog

Well, that was quite a week.

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you may have noticed we have a new government.

I have deliberately avoided comment during the election campaign, not least as it looked likely that Staffordshire could see considerable change, and I wanted to maintain clear impartiality in terms of party politics, as all charities must.

The outcome was significant in Staffordshire, with just one Labour (Tamworth) and ten Conservative MPs before the election – this includes Stoke North and Stoke South which both cross the border into Staffordshire, but excludes Stoke Central. This week, we find ourselves with seven new Staffordshire Labour MPs, eight in total (nine if you include Stoke Central). There are three remaining Conservatives in the Moorlands and the new constituencies of Stone, Penkridge & Great Wyrley, and Kingswinford & South Staffordshire.

I would like to firstly say thank you to everyone who stood as a candidate, and special thanks to those retiring MPs who have represented Staffordshire in recent years. I would note Aaron Bell (Newcastle-under-Lyme) and Theo Clarke (Stafford) with whom I had some good dialogue during the pandemic. As has been much commented, the way we peacefully transition from one government to another in this country is something increasingly precious in the modern world and to be treasured.

So, to our new MPs. I shall be writing to them all in the coming days to encourage a positive and more extensive relationship with the VCSE sector, locally and nationally. I will be inviting them all to meet with Support Staffordshire and our members in the coming months, so watch this space. If you are a local, rather than countywide organisation do find out who your new MP is and make your organisation known to them and their office. Though as new MPs, be a little patient whilst they find their feet.

Nationally, I am extremely pleased to see the increase in charity experience in both parliament and government. Several new MPs have moved directly from senior charity roles, including well known sector leader, Torsten Bell, former Chief Executive of the Resolution Foundation. For more on this you can see Third Sector. Perhaps even more importantly and presciently, the Cabinet has seen a significant increase in charity experience around the table. Most notably, the new Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Peter Kyle, who was previously the Deputy Chief Executive of the sector membership body ACEVO for 5 years. There is a good and brief analysis here by Pro Bono Economics.

However, the thing I am really keeping an eye on, is where the Civil Society brief ends up.

Pre-election this Ministerial role had become buried with tourism and sport in the relevantly minor depths of the Department for Media, Culture & Sport (DCMS). Will it stay there? Will the remit remain the same, or become the standalone role it deserves to be? Or as many are daring to hope will it be moved back to a more central role, at the Cabinet Office or elsewhere? If not, will there be a different recognition of the sector’s expected role? For example, through the proposed Mission Boards? As I write all this is yet to become clear, and I am also willing to give the new government time to work this out. Integral working with the VCSE sector has been eviscerated in central government over the years since 2015, so it won’t be rebuilt overnight.

You might detect that I am daring to hope this morning, that things can be different and better, but we do need to see the green shoots of that relationship being regrown before too long.


Garry Jones (he/him)

Chief Executive

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