It’s not the knitting we’re worried about; it’s the fabric of society

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New minister for civil society Brooks Newmark put his foot in it yesterday when making his very first speech when, according to the Guardian he told charities that they should "stick to their knitting" and keep out of politics.

The minister entirely misses the point, of course. First, I am quite sure that people do give to charities like Oxfam, Action Aid and Christian Aid (full disclosure: I have worked with them all) because they ask awkward questions about why people are in need, as well as trying to help them.

Second, our concern is not with knitting, it's with the fact that the fabric of society is collapsing. And if it is not charitable to ask why that is happening when it is charities who pick up and have to deal with so many of the consequences I am not sure what he thinks charitable activity might be.