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In the aftermath of the FT investigation into the Presidents Club charity fundraiser people are still trying to determine how much of a lasting impact the scandal will have. The revelations of a men-only dinner at which hostesses were groped and propositioned have already led to resignations, the winding up of the Presidents Club itself, and calls for a fundamental cultural change in business.
Merryn Somerset Webb says that there is one area that demands much more scrutiny: the charity connection. As she writes in her powerful Saturday column, the phrase "But it's for charity" has become a "catch-all excuse for all manner of things — and who's going to call out well-off men for a little groping at a dinner that raises millions for good causes?"
While the charities are not responsible for the events at the Dorchester Hotel last week — and, indeed, some returned the money they received from the fundraiser in the wake of the FT story — Merryn says they risk suffering the consequences. "There has been too much scandal in the sector over the past few years for comfort. If it wants to maintain public trust (and how can it operate without it?) it can’t afford this kind of thing." Add to that the relative inefficiency of the fundraising efforts — it costs the Presidents Club 30p to raise 70p for good causes — and Merryn sees a bloated and inadequately monitored sector that is ripe for reform and better supervision.
The scandal has generated a huge number of comments and letters from FT readers. Condemnation of the behaviour exposed by our investigation has been near-universal, but not everyone approved of the way it was handled or the reactions to the scandal. You can read the full FT coverage of the events at the Presidents Club and the subsequent fallout here.
Momentum's moment? Jeremy Corbyn is more concerned about internal Labour party management than taking the fight to the government on Brexit, says Alastair Campbell. In a powerful comment piece Tony Blair's former spokesman says that the unprecedented interference this week by the party's ruling National Executive Committee in the affairs of a local council shows that the party and its leader are less concerned with the responsibilities of opposition than with internecine battles.
Happiness economics: It was not that long ago that policymakers were gripped by the idea of including a measure of well-being in our assessment of economic state of health. That all now seems a bit out of step with the angrier and grittier spirit of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Yet, as Tim Harford argues in his latest Saturday column, that does not mean economists should give up on the pursuit of happiness. In fact it might be more necessary than ever.
Demise of the dish: The announcement by Sky that all its channels will soon be available online spells the beginning of the end for one of the most controversial architectural add-ons: the satellite dish, says Edwin Heathcote. Over the past few decades it has become a fixed feature of suburban streetscapes and urban tower blocks, a marker of multichannels and big tellies. And, this being Britain, it quickly also became a cipher for class. Where will our snobbery turn to now?
Best of the week
Why a sliding dollar may come back to bite Donald Trump — Gillian Tett
The liberal international order is sick — Martin Wolf
Donald Trump and the many meanings of genius — Gideon Rachman
The Tory party should rekindle its warmth for business — Janan Ganesh
Why did Donald Trump decide to go to Davos? — Roula Khalaf
Big Tech’s trust issues at the forefront of Davos debate — Rana Foroohar
Southern Africa faces a full-scale revolution — David Pilling
Singapore experiments with smart government — John Thornhill
Our robot era demands a different approach to retraining — Sarah O’Connor
Rocker’s ‘greatest’ show turns into a circus — Ludovic Hunter-Tilney
Declining fertility rates dent Macron’s ‘France is back’ mantra — Anne-Sylvaine Chasseny
What you've been saying
Young of both sexes are degraded by service roles — letter from B Clark
While I share the widespread revulsion at what is alleged to have gone on at the Dorchester’s recent men-only charity event, I wonder if the Financial Times is planning to do a similar exposé of the numerous charity “ladies’ nights” that take place up and down the country? These often include in their advertising the promise of young, muscular men, usually clad only in tight-fitting leather/PVC underwear and bow ties, performing equally demeaning, servile roles for the entertainment of the female guests, with this servile status resulting in these men being subjected to a similar level of groping, lewd comments and other unwanted sexual advances as their female counterparts at the Dorchester. For those subjected to this behaviour, regardless of gender, it is equally demeaning and degrading and so it needs to be stamped out, regardless of who is doing it to whom.
Midwest decency that reassured New Yorkers — letter from Keith Corkan
“Person in the news” featuring David Letterman (January 20) was a succinct and fitting recognition of the timeless talent of this former talk show host and how his style differed from those of his competitors . . . . During the opening of his nightly talk show following the terror attacks of September 2001, however, rather than exhibiting his trademark sceptical humour he gave a heartfelt, humble and dignified address about the atrocity, which became one of the most poignant broadcasts during that fateful period, and one in which the display of his Midwest decency proved to be a powerful form of public reassurance particularly to New Yorkers at that time.
Comment from F84 on 'If you want to run the world, study a ‘useless’ subject' by Sarah Churchwell
Enjoyed this piece. I studied economics at undergrad and found it to be a pretty dispiriting experience: seemed to be mainly memorising increasingly complex mathematical models on top of seriously questionable assumptions. Currently doing a PhD in philosophy and my only regret is that I didn't do philosophy sooner. Actually feel better able to think, analyse information and form and present arguments.
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The Presidents Club scandal should remove the fig leaf of charity
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