Charity campaigners face increasing negativity from politicians, survey warns

Politicians are more becoming more negative towards charity campaigning amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey has found.

A survey of charity campaigners found that almost two thirds (63%) believe politicians are more negative towards civil society campaigning over the last year. Only 11% said politicians are more positive to charity lobbying.

The survey by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation was carried between October and November 2020 and involved 176 charity campaigners.

Concerns raised include “a more hostile political environment” which “has seen politicians shutting down channels of communication and attacking campaigners and their allies as a threat to the common good”, said the Foundation.

One respondent was particularly concerned at “the awful way the Home Secretary (Priti Patel) has described lawyers who worth with asylum seeking clients”.

This refers to comments made by Patel in October 2020 when she accused lawyers involved in immigration cases as “lefty do-gooders”.

Most respondents (56%) believe that a challenging 2020 has made campaigning worse, compared to 44% who say the campaigning landscape is better. The restriction of face-to-face campaigning and a shift to online communication is a key factor.

“We’re still trying to work out how to campaign without protest, everyone is exhausted by constant online stuff now,” said another respondent.

The Sheila McKechnie Foundation says the findings have emerged “after years of tightening government restrictions on campaigning and increasingly intolerant attitudes to dissent”.

This includes the Lobbying Act and the use of gagging clauses on charities looking for government contracts.

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