Army Rumour Service

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

National Trust under scrutiny

HCL

Old-Salt

Here you go. 786 comments so far

National Trust could face inquiry into its 'purpose'​

Charity Commission to examine whether body is 'losing sight' of its remit after controversies

ByChristopher Hope, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT23 October 2020 • 9:30pm

Baroness Stowell said it was important that the National Trust did not 'lose sight' of what members expected'lose sight' of what members expected

Baroness Stowell said it was important that the National Trust did not 'lose sight' of what members expected CREDIT: Geoff Pugh

The National Trust could face an official investigation by the charity regulator for straying from its "clear, simple purpose" to preserve historic buildings and treasures.
Speaking to The Telegraph's Chopper's Politics podcast (which you can listen to on the audio player above), Baroness Stowell of Beeston, who chairs the Charity Commission, said it was "important" that the National Trust did not "lose sight" of what members expected, adding that it was right that it was facing questions.

The commission is examining whether the Trust has breached its charitable objects. Regulators approached it earlier this month after members of the public complained about its controversial review into links between its properties and the British empire and slavery.

That could lead to a formal investigation in the coming weeks, with the questioning of the Trust's recent conduct by the regulator extremely embarrassing for a charity with 5.6 million members.
The National Trust has made a series of other moves that have been unpopular with members in recent years including making volunteers wear rainbow lanyards to support LGBT causes, while dozens of curators are being laid off to save money amid the coronavirus pandemic.

MPs were infuriated when the Trust's 115-page interim review, entitled "Connections between colonialism and Properties now in the care of the National Trust, including links with historic slavery" found that one third of its protected sites had ties to the "sometimes uncomfortable role that Britain, and Britons, have played in global history".

Winston Churchill's Chartwell residence, in Kent, was given as an example, with the wartime Prime Minister's home being highlighted alongside those of slavers.

Chartwell, the former home of Sir Winston Churchill


Chartwell, the former home of Sir Winston Churchill CREDIT: Robert Morris/ PA
Lady Stowell said: "The National Trust has a very sort of clear, simple purpose, which is about preserving some of our great historic places and places of great beauty and national treasure.
"What people expect of the National Trust is that they focus on that purpose, they don't lose sight of that. And when they do things which somehow seem to some of their supporters, some of the people that they're relying on... they shouldn't be surprised if that leads to questions and criticisms."
Asked whether the commission had contacted the Trust after the report was published, Lady Stowell said: "Sure. It's important that I and the commission exist to represent the people who are supporting the National Trust or any other charity."

She said it was important that members of the public "know that we get what it is that they care about, we understand. And that's part of what we're here to do – we will ask questions."
Commission officials made contact with the Trust two weeks ago after complaints from members of the public. It is not expected to become a statutory inquiry, but the commission has powers ranging from ordering the Trust not to commission other similar reports to giving it an official warning.
A National Trust spokesman said: "As is expected of all charities, the National Trust reports to the Charity Commission on any significant issues affecting our work. We updated the commission about media comment received in relation to the colonial history report published in September, and will be providing the commission with a further update.

"We always answer any questions the commission has with full transparency. We will continue to update the Charity Commission, and we are not aware of any formal action being taken in relation to the media coverage about our report."

The National Trust welcomes back visitors following the coronavirus lockdown

The National Trust welcomes back visitors following the coronavirus lockdown CREDIT: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Lady Stowell, the Leader of the House of Lords from 2014 to 2016, acknowledged the work charities have done to respond to the coronavirus crisis and the financial difficulties many face, saying: "A lot of the good, well-run charities are responding to this in the way that you would expect them to, which is that they're cutting costs."

But she stressed that she wanted charities to look at taking action to curb excessive executive pay. Earlier this year, the commission asked charities to submit information on all salaries above £60,000 in bands of £10,000, with the evidence forming the basis of a major report on charity executive pay before the end of the year.

A source said the report was about "shining a light on pay and reminding charities that the public on whose support they depend expects them to be able to explain and justify when they are paying big salaries".
Lady Stowell said: "There's a minimum standard, so there's a legal regulatory obligation on charities in terms of their disclosure. But actually, is that enough?
"If you really know that the people who you are relying on sort of need a constant reassurance that you are what you say you are, then you find ways to be able to demonstrate that to people. When it comes to explaining or justifying pay, it is not good enough to say 'this person could have earned X amount somewhere else', which is what you often see in a business."

Lady Stowell said the commission was seeking more powers to make it easier to throw charities off the official register if they are found to be breaking rules, as well allowing organisations to become temporary charities, adding: "I've started talking to the Government about this, that we have powers that allow us some greater control over what comes on and off the register, because it goes back to what we were talking about in terms of people's expectations of a charity when it is registered."
She urged larger charities to appoint people to their boards who understand the perspective of the supporter "rattling the tin for them or volunteering for them" and warned them not to take supporters for granted, saying it was "no longer acceptable in this day and age for any institution to rely on the fact they've been around" as a reason why they should continue.

"People are no longer willing to give charities the benefit of the doubt just because they're a charity," she said. "They expect a charity to constantly show that they are different from a business, that they are motivated in a different way. You can't, as a charity, just assume that what you've enjoyed in the past will continue into the future."

Announcing that she will stand down from chairing the commission in February, Lady Stowell said the public's trust in charities had begun to recover after it was damaged by scandals at Oxfam and Save the Children.

"We have carried out inquiries into some of the biggest name charities and not been in any way shy in doing so," she said. "That has led to real change and improvement amongst those charities themselves. There's some evidence of public trust and confidence starting to increase again as a result of that. But... this is a job that will never be done."

Listen to The Telegraph's weekly political podcast, Chopper's Politics, presented by Chief Political Correspondent Christopher Hope, on the audio player at the top of this article, and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your preferred podcast app.

There are more than enough vested interests involved in and with the Nat. Trust to derail the investigation and to water down any report. It's run by the landed classes purely for the benefit of the landed classes. As a true blue working class tory it somehow brings out the angry pitchfork welding peasant in me, which is truly bizarre.
 
The National Trust were major beneficiaries of the National Land Fund, which never fully achieved its objectives but was set up by the Labour Government in 1946 as a memorial to the war dead and funded by the sale of war surplus equipment and acceptance of properties in lieu of death duties.
 
The National Trust were major beneficiaries of the National Land Fund, which never fully achieved its objectives but was set up by the Labour Government in 1946 as a memorial to the war dead and funded by the sale of war surplus equipment and acceptance of properties in lieu of death duties.

the biggest beneficiaries were landed gentry living well beyond their means who got the taxpayer to buy up their debts - and allowed them to carry on living in the sybaritic luxury they could no longer afford on the public’s coin.
 
Simon Heffer of the DT has written a scathing article - Apparently, the Trust’s “experts” – few of whom, on the basis of what this says about their expertise, would deserve even the lowest class of history degree from the worst imaginable university – say that around a third of its properties are associated with the “sometimes-uncomfortable role that Britain, and Britons, have played in global history”.
 
Article in full:

The National Trust’s job is to conserve our history – not vilify its heroes
Wordsworth, Kipling and Churchill are being subjected to 2020’s lens. What gives an elite minority the right to traduce our past?

SIMON HEFFER
24 October 2020 • 9:36am
Simon Heffer

It has seemed for some years as though the National Trust has a death wish, as it dumbs down its properties and uses them more and more for publicity-seeking stunts. The fact that it has compiled a dossier of properties linked to “colonialism and slavery” appears to confirm my fear.

Apparently, the Trust’s “experts” – few of whom, on the basis of what this says about their expertise, would deserve even the lowest class of history degree from the worst imaginable university – say that around a third of its properties are associated with the “sometimes-uncomfortable role that Britain, and Britons, have played in global history”.

Yes, the good old National Trust – once the haven of well-preserved stately homes, woodland walks, and tea, jam and scones – is now determined to become part of that noisy elite minority that can’t let a day go by without engaging in an act of self-flagellation, and reminding us what a shocking country, and people, we supposedly are.


The Trust seems not to understand that its role is to conserve our historic houses, artefacts and landscapes: it is not the administrator of some nationwide re-education programme. The “list of shame” about slavery and colonialism is a typical example of the ignorance of those in charge. First, there seems to be some confusion of the two terms. Most British colonies, and almost all of those in Africa, were established after slavery was abolished. Once definitions of iniquity become so loose, it is easy to shovel the reputations of almost any historical figure you like into them.

So visitors to Bateman’s, Rudyard Kipling’s house in Sussex, will need to brace themselves for a description of the wickedness of the man who gave us the phrase “the White Man’s Burden”. One would never have thought that a man who was the most popular writer of his age, revered by millions in this country and around the world – and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature – would have to be placed at a bargepole’s length from the present generation.

Even less predictably, those visiting one of Wordsworth’s houses in the Lake District – the poet who wrote, of the French Revolution, “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, / But to be young was very heaven!” – must also vicariously repent. William’s younger brother, John, once worked for the East India Company, an organisation with whom local Indian princes happily and profitably traded.

But, inevitably, the focus of the outrage has been Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s country house in north Kent. Churchill, whose minor achievement of managing our victory in the Second World War seems to count for nothing today, is condemned because while he was trying to stop Hitler’s programme of genocide and near-apocalyptic destruction, he failed to respond adequately to the Bengal famine.

The latter was no laughing matter – it is estimated that between two and three million Indians died in it, either of starvation or of diseases caused by it. A debate has continued ever since about how far the disaster was man-made and how far an act of God; Bengal, now Bangladesh, had been hit by a cyclone, flooding and rice-crop disease. There being a war on, there was a severe shortage of shipping when it came to sending aid. To blame Churchill – whose political record in other respects was patchy, to say the least – is not so much harsh as ridiculous.

Sir Winston is also attacked by the Trust for opposing Indian independence. Well, so did almost every leading British politician from 1858, when the British government took over running India from the East India Company, until the Second World War. God knows what the Trust are going to do about Disraeli, whose Buckinghamshire house, Hughenden Manor, is another of their properties: he was so enthusiastic about British rule in India that he arranged for Queen Victoria to become Empress of it.

The Trust says it wants to present its visitors with “very painful” histories. Why? Since when was it the function of this conservation group to vilify so many of our historical figures, people who – when not engaging in acts of racial, sexual and gender oppression – were helping to forge a democracy that set an example followed around the civilised world?

For too long, the Trust has treated its core clientele – middle-aged and elderly people – with near-contempt. Too many of their properties have been made what they call “accessible” – made into, effectively, children’s play centres, offering a potted version of Leftist history that is either sanitised or propagandistic.

But the real stupidity of the Trust lies not in its allowing a highly questionable view of history to colour its presentation of its properties. It lies in digging its own grave even more deeply at a time when it is having to sack 1,200 of its 14,000 staff because of the Covid-19 crisis, and when partly because of that, but also partly because of its sod-the-public attitude, people have been staying away from its properties in droves. Hilary McGrady, the Trust’s director-general, needs to get a grip, lest her whole enterprise haemorrhage its core membership and head towards insolvency.

This is the worst possible time for the Trust to start behaving in this aggressively irrelevant fashion. It could well provoke thousands of members to resign, and volunteers to go with them, because they will not be indoctrinated in this fashion, or told to loathe their country as some form of penance.

It ought also to provoke an investigation by the Charities Commission about the Trust’s political activities. On the front page of its website, it boasts that it carries out its founders’ wishes “to care for nature, beauty and history”. Well, it shows a pitiful care for history to distort it as the fanatics who are now in control seem determined to do.

“The values of our founders are still at the heart of everything we do,” the official preening continues. Oh really? One thing that can be said with certainty about the founders is that they started the Trust because they loved and wished to preserve Britain’s past – not to use it as the basis for an object lesson in self-hatred.
 
There are more than enough vested interests involved in and with the Nat. Trust to derail the investigation and to water down any report. It's run by the landed classes purely for the benefit of the landed classes. As a true blue working class tory it somehow brings out the angry pitchfork welding peasant in me, which is truly bizarre.


It end up like the last time the rich tax dodgers got called out 20 years ago.
Sod all will happen.

 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
The same seems to be happening to the NT as has happened to many of our museums. They are being hijacked by those of a very narrow political viewpoint and turned into propaganda exercises.

I’m glad this is being questioned.
 
I too met the old fellow. He came to the door of his quarters with his stick and in his slippers.
We had a very pleasant chat about gardening and rugby - then he had to go in for his tea. Playing rugby against Welshpool, we once had to play on temporary pitch set up on one of the fields below the castle, herding the prime beef off first. Powys Castle used to be a regular haunt of ours, until PC.
He would regularly potter about the garden, often being mistaken for one of the staff.
 

O Zangado

War Hero
Meanwhile, closer to home and please excuse the thread drift,


If this is behind the paywall, the headline reads, "Unknown warrior likely white solider bias research suggests and continues, "British 'unconscious bias' may have influenced the choice of a white soldier as the Unknown Warrior, National Army Museum research has suggested."

It mattered not a jot the ethnic origin of the unknown soldier until now and I maintain it should not ever be an issue. Perhaps a serving or former military type in authority needs to call the woke from the National Army Museum for an interview, 08h00 Monday morning, no coffee, no pink wafers.

OZ
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Meanwhile, closer to home and please excuse the thread drift,


If this is behind the paywall, the headline reads, "Unknown warrior likely white solider bias research suggests and continues, "British 'unconscious bias' may have influenced the choice of a white soldier as the Unknown Warrior, National Army Museum research has suggested."

It mattered not a jot the ethnic origin of the unknown soldier until now and I maintain it should not ever be an issue. Perhaps a serving or former military type in authority needs to call the woke from the National Army Museum for an interview, 08h00 Monday morning, no coffee, no pink wafers.

OZ
As posted on another thread, the Unknown Soldier is representative of all. Also, the army was predominantly white, to say the least. So, if we’re going down the race route, a white soldier is most representative.

Non-story. Hateful, in fact.
 
yet this is exactly what the gammon-faced harrmupphers are asking for , rather than proper , rigourous analysis of evidence they want a jingoistic view of the role of the UK in the world ...


That's rather emotive language for CA. You seem angry.
 
That's rather emotive language for CA. You seem angry.

Remember that facts are racist, unless they taken from an African perspective

So the more woke members can get easily triggered
 
Surprise, the National Trust for Scotland is similarly working "to illuminate the links between its properties and slave trade in its Facing The Past Project".

The project aims to tell a “more rounded history” of NTS properties in an attempt to move away from the “patriarchal, masculine, very linear” stories surrounding the charity’s estate.

 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Surprise, the National Trust for Scotland is similarly working "to illuminate the links between its properties and slave trade in its Facing The Past Project".

The project aims to tell a “more rounded history” of NTS properties in an attempt to move away from the “patriarchal, masculine, very linear” stories surrounding the charity’s estate.

Founding member of the Black Watch? ;)
 

Latest Threads

Top