A number of people have pointed out that Common Purpose receives large wads of taxpayers' cash; this is true, but in return, Common Purpose delivers a service and we cannot tell whether that service is worth the money or not.
However, some people have a bit of a bee in their bonnet about the organisation, seeing it as some kind of shadowy "world government" group; many have asked why I haven't written much about them on The Kitchen.
The answer to that is simple: because I have been told, by people that I trust, that there's really nothing particularly sinister about them. And reinforcing that view is Tory councillor, Simon Cooke, who has decided to outline his experiences.
Now this is admission time. I have spoken to “Common Purpose” meetings on several occasions (although I haven’t done and would not do their “course”) – all “Chatham House Rules” but otherwise very cuddly and convivial. For me, it was a chance to ‘tell it like it is’ rather than feel constrained by the possibility of publicity. But what stood out was the sheer lack of challenge, of questioning of independent thought. As if those assembled were unable to see what was said and to ask whether it was right. What I saw was the triumph of received wisdom rather than some attempt to form the vanguard of some new authoritarian super-state.
Now for the tin-hatted ones, I have a further guilty secret to reveal – my wife is a Common Purpose ‘graduate’. She quite enjoyed the course, got some business from it and came away with a very jaundiced view of public sector values.
For most folk Common Purpose is just a networking organisation, something to put on the CV and a break from work. True, it promotes a pro-state, EU supporting view at its national level but locally it’s just a networking group that has disappeared up the pompous backside of the state so as to get funding.
Now, one can argue that the public sector should not be spending large amounts of our cash on such networking groups, but one could argue that about any public sector spending. On anything.
No doubt I shall be accused of being part of Common Purpose's evil cabal, or perhaps being paid large wads of cash by the organisation (an accusation that one excitable fakecharities.org correspondent levelled at me), but I'm not.
And, frankly, there are quite enough conspiracies for me to skewer that will do us real and lasting harm—such as the loonier members of the IPCC and its acolytes—that means that I would rather not waste my time on Common Purpose.
That doesn't mean that I don't think that their "pro-state, EU supporting view" is not utterly wrong—it is. But there are many hundreds of such organisations (and, indeed, individuals) and the way that I try to address their idiocy is through advocating the benefits of the libertarian alternatives—both on this blog and in speaking engagements at universities and think-tank events.