Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Republic Child Poverty Campaign

Those people who were not living under a rock will know that yesterday the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a daughter, and this has given Republic its chance to leap in with its Born Equal campaign.

This urges people to respond by donating to the Child Poverty Action Group.

As Republic states:

Every child should be born with the same political rights, the same opportunity to become head of state and to represent their country


3.5m children live in poverty in the UK. That means lower prospects in terms of health, education and long-term employment than those enjoyed by other children. Like the rest of us, those 2,200 children born each day will need to work hard, compete with their peers and earn their success. All those children deserve to grow up in a Britain where there are no limits on their ambition, where their political rights are equal to everyone else's and where all of us are born equal.

I am old enough to remember when compulsory ID cards were The Solution to The Problem of welfare fraud. Then they were The Solution to The Problem of terrorism. I am cautious of something being a multi-purpose The Solution to whatever is The Problem du jour.

And now it seems that a republic has become similar. It is now The Solution to child poverty, by deliberately confusing political inequality (defined narrowly as being unable to become Head of State) with genuine poverty.

Within the Organization for Economic Development member states, the highest child poverty is found in the USA, Mexico and Italy - all republics. While the lowest is, unsurprisingly, in Sweden, which is a monarchy. Clearly it is not a case that republics have less poverty than monarchies.

As Holly Johnson sang in Americanos:

There´s a place where a kid without a cent; He can grow up to be president

Well, on paper anyway. Does anyone think that an African-American from the Bronx has the same chance as a Harvard-educated son of a lawyer?

Ireland and Germany are held up as examples of nations with an elected Head of State. However, its Presidents are normally political creatures. In Ireland the nomination process is controlled by politicians (with the hoi polloi only being able to vote for candidates chosen by politicians), in Germany the election is conducted by politicians. You have to have the right connections, know the right people.

If a girl born yesterday reaches adulthood and is addressed as Ms Mountbatten-Windsor rather than Your Highness, will that have lifted one child out of poverty?

Sadly, one technique used by campaigning groups or celebrities is to cynically link themselves with bona fide charities. Last year saw the whole "UKIP calypso" debacle, the Red Cross had to refuse donations from the song. Note that the UK Independence Party had not asked the Red Cross whether they could use their name. And cue the predictable UKIP spin against the Red Cross, portraying it as playing politics with people's lives.

As the Institute of Fundraising has in its Code of Practice, charity trustees are within their rights to refuse a donation.

Frances Barnwell gives some scenarios where this can be done, including:

  • They may decide that it would be unethical for the charity to accept funding from certain sources. Medical charities, for example, may be unwilling to accept research funding from the tobacco industry.
  • There may be a conflict of interest between the work of the institution and the activities of the proposed donor.
  • The donor’s reputation or associations may be such that accepting funds would undermine confidence in the charity's independence and adherence to its core values.
  • The donation may for some other reason pose a risk to the reputation of the charity.

Charities don't just accept donations with no questions asked. There is the risk of reputational damage, which can include the perception that they are being used - and sadly, it seems Republic are using the Child Poverty Action Group by linking the issue a charity campaigns on (child poverty) with its own obsession. The Republic image which I showed above does, at first glance, suggest that CPAG is supporting its political campaign.

Give because you care about child poverty, not because you're angry over the media reporting the birth of a girl.

No comments:

Post a Comment