Mr Perrin’s Blog: He has a word of advice for Ella Ella and her UmbrElla

Mr Perrin’s blog “A Word in Your Ear”

I am also moved to comment on the article on “Your Thurrock” dated 14 August 2014 titled “Civil liberties campaigner slams Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price over TRUST remarks”. The campaigner referred to is Ms Ella Vine, the defeated Labour candidate for Little Thurrock Rectory in the May local elections. Ms Vine’s “slamming” of Jackie Doyle-Price seems to have been provoked by an article the MP wrote questioning the effectiveness of the charity “Thurrock Racial Unity Support Taskgroup” commonly referred to as “TRUST”.

Ms Vine said:-

“I find Ms Doyle-Price’s MP comments in her recent article for Thurrock Gazette from July 31st outrageous. In it, the MP for Thurrock suggests that the only umbrella organisation in Thurrock for BME communities, a registered charity TRUST, should disappear. This charity supports most vulnerable black and ethnic communities (BME) in Thurrock, including refugees, asylum seekers, victims of domestic violence and victims of hate crime from BME communities. Ms Doyle-Price allegedly calls for withdrawing funding from this charity and for its closure. Ms Doyle-Price wrote “Would anyone miss TRUST? It is currently in receipt of more than £40,000 a year to strive for community cohesion. I am not aware of any positive outcomes of its work, though I am aware of problems with governance. I don’t believe it is fit for purpose, so there is an easy saving to be made.”

Ms Vine claims that the MPs comment “Has caused public outrage”. Her claim is unsubstantiated. There has been far more support for the comments of Jackie Doyle-Price than there has been for those of Ms Vine.

Ms Vine says “I suspect the comments [made by Jackie Doyle-Price) could have been written with the aim to encourage a debate amongst Thurrock’s constituents whether ethnic minorities in Thurrock deserve help from this charity (TRUST) and whether public money from Thurrock Council should or should not be directed to help those communities. I (also) believe these comments could cause tensions within the community of Thurrock. For these reasons I have asked the parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to investigate. I have also complained to David Cameron. Ms Vine, are you seriously suggesting that the comments of Jackie Doyle-Price were racist and designed to fuel racial tension in the community? You should curb your paranoia and stop believing there is a racist under every bed.

Ms Vine, I am aware that your country of origin is Poland and that you have strong views regarding the rights of immigrants, ethnic minorities and you champion their civil rights but I would point out that the majority indigenous population of this country are also entitled to their civil rights one of which is “freedom of speech”. To encourage people to debate an issue is a civilised way of allowing all opinions to be heard and taken note of. Many people, military and civilian, have died defending that right.

Ms Vine is offended that Jackie Doyle-Price targeted TRUST but made no criticism of other charities. Does it not occur to Ms Vine that Jackie Doyle-Price had no reason to be critical of other charities whereas TRUST has been less than open about its activities and how it spends the money given to it from public funds?

Ella, me thinks tho dost protest too much!

Jackie Doyle-Price has responded:-

"In respect of TRUST, I have been moved to comment because of the threat of cuts to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). At a time when taxpayers money is constrained we need to ensure that every pound we spend produces a positive outcome and is value for money. The services delivered by CAB certainly meet that test.

"In respect of TRUST, Your Thurrock has reported some worrying issues regarding governance which would suggest that its ability to meet the value for money test is questionable

"As a community leader with a belief in achieving community cohesion amongst our now very diverse community in Thurrock, I am surprised that in four years of being Member of Parliament, I have never been contacted by TRUST. This contrasts with other voluntary organisations who have been only too keen to tell me about what they do. As they should. If there is a good story to tell then tell it and support will follow.

"All bodies who take public money must be transparent about how it is spent and what positive outcomes they achieve so that we can judge whether they are delivering the objective we are funding them for. That is accountability and no organisation which received taxpayers money should be immune from it.

Ms Vine, obviously you see yourself as the only umbr ELLA for TRUST, however a word of caution, umbrellas have a tendency to be blown inside out and collapse or get carried away on a wind of self- importance.

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