MP for Braintree and Halstead criticised after telling charities to "stick to their knitting" and keep out of party politics

Brooks Newmark is MP for Braintree and Halstead

Brooks Newmark is MP for Braintree and Halstead

First published in Countywide
Last updated

The MP for Braintree and Halstead has become embroiled in a row after telling charities to “stick to their knitting” and keep out of politics - less than two months since he was appointed minister responsible for the Government’s Big Society drive.

Brooks Newmark, who was appointed Minister for Civil Society in July, used his first major intervention to criticise organisations that “stray” from their core functions.

He is said to have told a conference on social action: “We really want to try and keep charities and voluntary groups out of the realms of politics. Some 99.9% do exactly that.

“When they stray into the realm of politics that is not what they are about and that is not why people give them money.”

He added: “The important thing charities should be doing is sticking to their knitting and doing the best they can to promote their agenda, which should be about helping others.”

Alexandra Runswick, director of campaign group Unlock Democracy, said his words were “condescending”, and Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, wrote on Twitter: “Incredibly insulting for charities minister to tell civil society to ‘stick to its knitting’ & I think sexist too.”

A number of Tory backbenchers criticised Oxfam earlier this year for “political” opposition to benefit cuts and zero-hour contracts.

But charities have insisted they are entitled to take positions on issues related to their work.

After his comments yesterday, Mr Newmark clarified that charities “absolutely have right to campaign but should stay out of realm of 'party' politics”.

Comments (11)

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10:49am Thu 4 Sep 14

sandgrounder 1 says...

W*n**r
W*n**r sandgrounder 1
  • Score: 2

12:35pm Thu 4 Sep 14

AVeryPrivateGentleman says...

well there is no need for rudeness as above, however it is stereotypical for people of this ilk to have this type and style of shut up and go away little person policy we know better ! really ?
unfortunately they don't see you as real people just bits of paper with crosses on them during election times.
public officials that get out like this either in public or in private should be dismissed immediately. no and ifs or buts ?
well there is no need for rudeness as above, however it is stereotypical for people of this ilk to have this type and style of shut up and go away little person policy we know better ! really ? unfortunately they don't see you as real people just bits of paper with crosses on them during election times. public officials that get out like this either in public or in private should be dismissed immediately. no and ifs or buts ? AVeryPrivateGentleman
  • Score: 9

3:01pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Shrubendlad says...

He is a very clever chap but American born-hence shooting from the hip.
He is a very clever chap but American born-hence shooting from the hip. Shrubendlad
  • Score: 3

3:05pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Jaimundo says...

I wish the Tories would stay out of politics, they'd do far less damage that way.
I wish the Tories would stay out of politics, they'd do far less damage that way. Jaimundo
  • Score: 13

3:44pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Shrubendlad says...

Oxfam pays its Chief Executive £119,560 a year.
This is less than the £135,700 a year paid by similar charities.
Its a pity that the money we give to these Charities cant go to the poor people who need it.
They want our money and are happy to put it in their pockets.
Oxfam pays its Chief Executive £119,560 a year. This is less than the £135,700 a year paid by similar charities. Its a pity that the money we give to these Charities cant go to the poor people who need it. They want our money and are happy to put it in their pockets. Shrubendlad
  • Score: 11

4:32pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Shrubendlad says...

Shrubendlad wrote:
Oxfam pays its Chief Executive £119,560 a year.
This is less than the £135,700 a year paid by similar charities.
Its a pity that the money we give to these Charities cant go to the poor people who need it.
They want our money and are happy to put it in their pockets.
They get paid twice the money paid to our MPs-hardly surprising he lost his rag.
I would have said-"Stick to what youre paid to do -You overpaid parasites"!
[quote][p][bold]Shrubendlad[/bold] wrote: Oxfam pays its Chief Executive £119,560 a year. This is less than the £135,700 a year paid by similar charities. Its a pity that the money we give to these Charities cant go to the poor people who need it. They want our money and are happy to put it in their pockets.[/p][/quote]They get paid twice the money paid to our MPs-hardly surprising he lost his rag. I would have said-"Stick to what youre paid to do -You overpaid parasites"! Shrubendlad
  • Score: 1

5:01pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Bert Hardy says...

“stick to their knitting”
That phrase alone shows how out of touch this well off MP happens to be.
He himself does very well out of the taxpayer, who I believe pay most of his luxury home rent, maybe after his 11 percent increase he can pay all his own debts today?

Charities have every right to stand up for the poorest and oppressed.
It is common for Conservatives to complain about 'interfering in politics, whether it be churches, charities or any media organisation when what they mean is "shut up and go away, don't expose our failings!"
Charities have a duty to speak up and comments such as this will be remembered come election time. Possibly with UKIP being so strong in this are this man would be better meeting his constituents rather than climbing the greasy pole!
“stick to their knitting” That phrase alone shows how out of touch this well off MP happens to be. He himself does very well out of the taxpayer, who I believe pay most of his luxury home rent, maybe after his 11 percent increase he can pay all his own debts today? Charities have every right to stand up for the poorest and oppressed. It is common for Conservatives to complain about 'interfering in politics, whether it be churches, charities or any media organisation when what they mean is "shut up and go away, don't expose our failings!" Charities have a duty to speak up and comments such as this will be remembered come election time. Possibly with UKIP being so strong in this are this man would be better meeting his constituents rather than climbing the greasy pole! Bert Hardy
  • Score: 6

5:16pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Say It As It Is OK? says...

In full agreement with Shrubendlad regarding the extortionate salaries paid to many charity employees? I have first hand experience of these people whose sole aim is to get as many people as they can to work as unpaid volunteers whilst they reap the financial rewards of other people's efforts. Then again they are only promoting the old adage that 'charity begins at home' (their home).
In full agreement with Shrubendlad regarding the extortionate salaries paid to many charity employees? I have first hand experience of these people whose sole aim is to get as many people as they can to work as unpaid volunteers whilst they reap the financial rewards of other people's efforts. Then again they are only promoting the old adage that 'charity begins at home' (their home). Say It As It Is OK?
  • Score: 9

9:20pm Thu 4 Sep 14

kevineeley says...

isn`t the point of ALL charity`s to supplement a group/cause that they believe the government doesn`t give enough money.
doesn`t that make them political by definition.
isn`t the point of ALL charity`s to supplement a group/cause that they believe the government doesn`t give enough money. doesn`t that make them political by definition. kevineeley
  • Score: 6

8:29am Sat 6 Sep 14

cmills says...

What a nerve --Doesn't this just say so much - Really, anyone who thinks the Conservatives have any free libertarian, small government ideas surely know better by now - As they are running down the welfare state one would think, they would support the idea of charity (of any motivation, after all it's a free country?) But instead we get the Government’s Big Society and a Minister for Civil Society telling people what behaviour and allegiances or correct - It really is time for the Conservatives to change the name to The Authoritarian Communitarian Party for Third Party Interests -
.
But perhaps the Conservatives and its MPs should stick to its core functions.--That is local politics, rather than studying behavioural science to influence the public with their nudge unit (Behavioural Insights Team) for their global Corporate Business interests / agenda ---destabilizing the Middle East for cheap oil to fund a war on Russia - (jealously eyeing up all that untapped land) Yes --he just wants us all to stay out of politics and let them get on with it
What a nerve --Doesn't this just say so much - Really, anyone who thinks the Conservatives have any free libertarian, small government ideas surely know better by now - As they are running down the welfare state one would think, they would support the idea of charity (of any motivation, after all it's a free country?) But instead we get the Government’s Big Society and a Minister for Civil Society telling people what behaviour and allegiances or correct - It really is time for the Conservatives to change the name to The Authoritarian Communitarian Party for Third Party Interests - . But perhaps the Conservatives and its MPs should stick to its core functions.--That is local politics, rather than studying behavioural science to influence the public with their nudge unit (Behavioural Insights Team) for their global Corporate Business interests / agenda ---destabilizing the Middle East for cheap oil to fund a war on Russia - (jealously eyeing up all that untapped land) Yes --he just wants us all to stay out of politics and let them get on with it cmills
  • Score: 2

2:18pm Sat 6 Sep 14

helenbach says...

what has knitting got to do with charities and politics ?

Another MP opening his mouth and letting his stomach rumble !
I guess he's not a knitter ? ( nor a knowledgeable MP) get your pins out and knit me a jumper !!!
what has knitting got to do with charities and politics ? Another MP opening his mouth and letting his stomach rumble ! I guess he's not a knitter ? ( nor a knowledgeable MP) get your pins out and knit me a jumper !!! helenbach
  • Score: 2

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