Around 2007, fellow blogger Ellee Seymour asked me, “Do you volunteer, James?” and behind that was the notion of pressure to, as she did and all people who “give back” should according to her.

Call it an English tradition or a conservative one or even middle-England but there has long been a feeling of obligation among the English of “a type” to “give back”. Thus Bandaid concerts, save the world and all that but also the great poppy rip-off when one firm made a mint from wooden poppies some years back … and so it goes on.

According to the letter of the law, no one MUST pay and yet volunteering and charity are two major character traits in the English, to the point that charities are huge business and as we’ve sadly found out, often involve fatcats on huge salaries and a whole admin infrastructure with people taking a cut of the charitable donation.

Most people do not pay to give some fatcat a salary, they pay so that it supposedly helps the recipient. So not only is there this element of coercion – we feel obligated to pay – but there is also this element of false pretences and people do not like it.


Naturally, most people see “coercion” as applying force, pressure, in order to get someone to do something. I would argue that by painting itself as “charitable”, “worthy” institution as “defenders and upholders”, that the NT is playing on English sensibilities and coercing moneys from the population, in the same way as:

I would further argue that if someone is selling the Big Issue, one can generally sidestep and move on without the conscience being pricked but some institutions are royal and do coerce by their very grand cause … in the minds of a certain type of English.

And then, having got the money [or the annual membership] out of a person, that person is then being diddled – see the NT screenshots above.

It’s this very act of diddling which changes “appealing to our better nature” into “coercion”.

Feel free to disagree.

8 comments for “Coercion

  1. Penseivat
    August 21, 2017 at 18:57

    Attended a wedding some months ago and sat at the same table was a couple who both work in an admin capacity for a national charity. During the conversations, they mentioned that, instead of staying at the (4 star) hotel where the reception was being held, as the majority of guests were doing, they were staying at a 5 star hotel a couple of miles away and had a limousine ‘on call’ to take them back to that hotel when they had had enough of the drinking and dancing. Further to this, they mentioned, nay, boasted, that they were on an expense account provided by that charity as long as they promoted that charity amongst the wedding guests and that they would probably stay an extra night or two to explore the rather nice countryside. When asked how many elderly ladies’ 50pence piece donations did it take for them to enjoy their little soiree, they declined to answer but did offer to buy the next round. I hope I never find myself in peril on the sea as I cancelled my long standing direct debit the next day.

  2. dearieme
    August 21, 2017 at 21:48

    You are saying that if we alter the meaning of “coercion” then the NT are guilty of coercion. But then if we alter the meaning of “coercion” Bix was guilty of coercion. Coerced lovely notes from his cornet, did Bix.

    You are arguing like a Lefty, Hob.

    • August 21, 2017 at 22:12

      No, like a righty. Lefties don’t feel that coercion.

  3. August 22, 2017 at 02:07

    Let us not stretch word and meaning too far apart lest I blame the piece of toast I have sitting before me for its coercing me to eat it.

    • August 22, 2017 at 07:22

      That was one of the more difficult ones to defend but I felt “coerced” to try. We all know I was on a sticky wicket. 🙂

  4. Tom
    August 22, 2017 at 08:33

    There’s pressure there but not coercion. We are all free to apply our own criteria as to which charity to support. For example, I won’t donate to any organisation that receives funds from government because to me it’s not a true charity if it accepts money taken by force. All taxes involve real coercion and everything done with them is therefore morally tainted. I sleep easily at night because every penny I ever earned was the result of voluntary agreements with my customers who had lots of other choices. I could never rest if I had been employed by someone #fundedbyforce.

    • August 22, 2017 at 08:51

      Yep, that was just me not admitting Dearieme had caught me out. :). If it damned the NT though, that was good.

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