Sunday, 6 August 2017

The National Trust in Totalitarians Times

VOLUNTEERS at Felbrigg Hall, a Norfolk property owned by the National Trust, were being dragooned last week into wearing gay pride type badges.  It has been reported that dozens of unpaid guides have either refused to do so or quit the job.

The disgruntled volunteers are protesting against the requirement they wear the gay rainbow badges as part of the Felbrigg Hall commemorative season entitled 'Pride & Prejudice' to mark 50 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967. 

Annabel Smith, head of volunteering and participation development at the Trust, has said volunteers sign up to the organisation's 'founding principles' of promoting equality of opportunity and inclusion.
However, she added:  'We do recognise that some volunteers may have conflicting, personal opinions,'.

Dame Helen Ghosh, the well-paid director general of the National Trust, has said the National Trust was marking the anniversary of the law change at 'a dozen or so of our properties of the people who lived there and whose personal lives were outside the social norms of their time'.

Dame Helen has been adept at climbing the greasy pole in the national bureaucratic hierarchies.  She did alternate stints at the Department of Pensions, the Cabinet Office, the Department for the Environment and HM Revenue and Customs under Tony Blair's New Labour regime.  She was made a Dame in 2008 when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister, and became Permanent secretary of the Home Office in 2011.

She was appointed to the National Trust, which has an income of £500 million a year.  Last year, Melvyn Bragg accused the National Trust of 'mafia tactics' when it used it's deep pockets to buy Lake District farmland at inflated prices, and in doing so outbidding local sheep farmers who had hoped to work the land.

In the real world the National Trust operates a funny kind of equality of opportunity and inclusion.

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