The Ramblers' Association (RA) claims to be the national walkers' charity, and charity trustees should work hard to avoid creating perceptions of political bias.
The consistent election of Labour MPs as Presidents of the RA is at odds with this principle and gives the impression that the RA is controlled by the government party. If there is a change of administration, the RA's advances, which have relied upon this political partnership, may halt or be reversed.
While I admire the way in which the RA has pushed the boundaries, the Charity Commission is now more proactive, and sleaze in all areas politics is now no surprise to anyone. When will the RA trustees declare their political and other interests; as they expect politicans to do?
The lesson is that charities should not play party politics. What one charity does can bring the whole charity and voluntary sector into disrepute.
In my view the RA should throw off the restrictions of charity status, and proudly admit and celebrate its socialist roots and aims. However, the lure of middle class money may be too strong. Witness the activities of the socialist walking group Red Rope, which is affiliated to the RA but now no longer mounts a strong presence at the RA's national council.
Brian Wright, by email
Editor's note: the above letter is published unedited, except for changes to conform to the grough style book.