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The Poser Nostra and the great charity shakedown


As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a gangster.

But unlike Henry Hill in the film Goodfellas, I didn’t grow up in New York. In Croydon there was no all-night taxi stand where I could hang out with wise guys at night and get on the career path to heisting.

But I was looking in the wrong place. There were ‘goodlums’ hiding in plain sight, on a massive 24-7 Moral Grandstand.

These characters hijack legitimate concerns and run them for their own ends. They’re called the Poser Nostra. The Condescenti. The ‘why oh whys’ guys. And they took over their piece of the pity, the nation’s charities, and shook them down ruthlessly.

In my quest for gangsterhood, I should have gone to the charity shop. That way, I could have been inducted into the mob and learned the ways of the organisation. There are million of honest people who donate their clothes and books and hardware. We call them the bric a bracazzi. Many good trusting people give their most precious resource of all, their time.

But the guys at the top don’t see it that way. They think the charity is about them. They say cream rises to the top, but don’t forget that caccia di cacca is pretty buoyant too.

If you wanna be a Poser Nostra you do a little piece of contraffazione compassion here, a little grief-jacking there, and gradually you build your public profile.

You have to be inducted into the higher orders. Unless you are true Old Money, you can never become a Media Man. You have to have pure blue blood. It’s real Guinea stuff.

Once that trust is earned people recognise you’re a Stand Up guy in the Condescenti. It means nobody can touch you. You’ve proved you’re someone who is ready to hijack good intentions and use them for your own ends.

They’ll say, ‘You’re going to like this guy. He’s all right. He’s one of us. He’s a Good Will Fella.’

The Poser Nostra has a very strict hierarchy. There are captains, bosses, under-bosses.

They all have names. There’s Polly Two House Toynbee. Owen – OJ the Juice – Jones, who runs the sound-bite business. He can take one glib generalisation, cut it with pure schmaltz and sell it to dozens of news outlets before the truth has got its boots on.

There’s a whole gang of them pushing crazy stuff: we call them the gliberacci. The poison they put out every day is socially divisive and misleading. It turns people against each other and trust breaks down. Identity politics means everyone thinks everyone else hates them and when people are divided they are easy to manipulate.

But the gliberacci don’t care. They’re making a good living by hanging out at the all-night Moral Grandstand.

Who wants to wait in line with all the ‘small c’ conservatives and patiently earn the respect of their community, like some schlubb?

Then there are countless luvvies running a numbers business. The Oxfam guys feed them selected statistics and the Guardianistas pump them out without even checking. It’s perfect.

At the very top, there are the CEOs – creepo di tutti creepii.

They’ve got it all. Eye-watering benefits and complete immunity. Think about that: they get the rewards of a global corporation for none of the risks. The toughest thing they’ll do is address an audience of conference tourists before being chauffeured back to their five-star hotel. The most dangerous activity on their travel insurance covers moving their drinks to a better table at the hotel pool.

When they go to a poor country, they have the run of the victims.

When they are back home – to issue press releases attacking the schmucks who make up British society – they’ve got a safe house in the Master’s Lodge of an Oxbridge college. Nothing can touch these guys, let alone stick. They’re the Teflon Dons.

Meanwhile, they get a fat pension that would feed several villages for life. Cotswolds villages too, let alone the ones they left behind in down-shanty Haiti.

It’s a great career.

The CEO doesn’t have to move for anybody. He has lackeys in the media to run messages. If he says ‘jump this bandwagon’ the BBC asks ‘how hyped?’

They have it all. It’s theirs for the taking. And there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it.

The boss of the charity never needed your clothes donations. But he has gone from rags to riches.

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Nick Booth
Nick Booth
Nick Booth is a freelance writer.

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