Charity boss faces ‘crazy’ backlash – for engaging with the PM

Written by David Singleton on 23 January 2018 in News

The co-founder of Social Bite attended a Burns Supper at Number 10.

Lobbyists and political figures have hit out at "crazy" plans to boycott a Scottish homelessness charity because its boss had dinner with Theresa May.

Josh Littlejohn, co-founder of Social Bite, joined a number of politicians and business leaders at a Burns Supper hosted by the prime minister on Monday evening. But he faced a barrage of online criticism for attending the event, during which guests were welcomed into Downing Street by a piper from the Scots Guards and then enjoyed a three course meal by top chef Gary Maclean.

Social Bite is a small chain of sandwich shops in Scotland. A quarter of its workforce were once homeless and it operates a scheme where customers can pre-pay for an extra sandwich or coffee, which homeless people can come in and collect.

The organisation has been commended for helping homeless people to get back on their feet. But the well-known Scottish blogger Bella Caledonia argued that Littlejohn’s attendance at the support "gives cover to the Tories policies that create and sustain the problems Social Bite campaigns to resolve" and "offers credibility to a discredited PM".

Another person stated on Twitter: "Very from disappointed to see #joshlittlejohn at this. He has lost all my respect and I will no longer contribute or support Social Bite."

And one angry punter fumed: "That's the last penny @SocialBite_ get from me. I'm appalled at Josh Littlejohn schmoozing with the bastards that are making so many people homeless. I had my doubts when he took the MBE, now it's clear to see he's as duplicitous as the company he now keeps."

But PRCA director Francis Ingham said that anti-austerity campaigners were misguided in hitting out at the charity boss for meeting with the prime minister.

He said: "Lobbying is about engaging with and influencing those who make decisions. The notion that any rational campaigner invited to meet with the PM would say ‘no’ is plain crazy. It would mean you’re not campaigning or lobbying effectively - you’re just a megaphone screaming impotently from the sidelines, making yourself feel smug and important, but actually achieving nothing at all."

On Twitter, one senior lobby journalist appeared to agree. PoliticsHome editor Kevin Schofield said: "The boss of Social Bite, which campaigns for and helps the homeless, is being threatened with a boycott for attending last night’s No 10 Burns Supper. Isn’t taking his case directly to the PM a good thing?"

Meanwhile, Labour peer Lewis Moonie claimed much of the treatment was being dished out to Littlejohn by SNP supporters: "He’s being threatened by a shower of tossers who have no idea how society works. What an embarrassment for the SNP. And for any decent Scot."




Picture by: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images

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