Conservative attacks on National Trust are desperate – StarmerPublished28 minutes agoShareclose panelShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesImage caption, The National Trust looks after the countryside and historic buildings such as Corfe Castle in DorsetBy Kate WhannelPolitical reporter, BBC NewsConservative Party attacks on the National Trust are desperate and damaging, Sir Keir Starmer has said.Addressing a summit of charities and not-for-profit groups, the Labour leader said the Conservatives had got “tangled up in culture wars of their own making”.He said a Labour government would “reset” the relationship between government and civil society.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hit back accusing Sir Keir of not having a plan.The prime minister said he hadn’t seen the Labour leader’s speech but added that “it does sound to me like a distraction from the fact that Keir Starmer, who has been leader of the opposition for four years, can’t actually say what he would do differently to run this country”.RSPB boss sorry for post calling ministers ‘liars’RNLI donations increase after migrant rescue criticismIn recent years the National Trust, a conservation charity, has been criticised by Conservative MPs. In 2020 a group of backbenchers objected to the National Trust linking the family home of Winston Churchill to slavery and colonialism. Last year, Lee Anderson, who was then a deputy chair of the Conservative Party, criticised the charity for listing policies it wanted the government to commit to. He told GB News “Brits expect the National Trust to protect our heritage, not lecture them on net zero.”Another Conservative MP – Jacob Rees-Mogg – backed a group seeking to change the National Trust, saying in a social media post: “The National Trust should remain true to its founding principles and stay clear of identity politics, which has already alienated tens of thousands of members.”Sir Keir also said Conservative rhetoric had “helped demonise” the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).The RNLI, which rescues people at sea, has also received attention for its role in helping migrants at risk of drowning in the Channel when trying to get to the UK in small boats.Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage said the group was being used as a “taxi service for illegal trafficking groups” but Conservatives have generally been supportive of the RNLI.In 2022, then Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the charity was an “incredible organisation, which responds first in many instances to incidents of crisis and emergency, saving lives and helping people in distress”. “They have my full support,” she added.Image source, PA MediaImage caption, Labour leader Keir Starmer accused Conservatives of “a kind of weird McCarthyism”Speaking at the Civil Society Summit in central London, Sir Keir said “the Tories seem set on sabotaging civil society to save their own skins. “Instead of working with the National Trust so more people can learn about – and celebrate – our culture and our history, they’ve managed to demean their work.” He also accused the Conservatives of “undertaking a kind of weird McCarthyism, trying to find woke agendas in the very civic institutions they once regarded with respect”. “Waging a war on the proud spirit of service in this country isn’t leadership. It’s desperate. It’s divisive. It’s damaging. The Labour leader said former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who famously said there was no such thing as society, had allowed individualism to “run rampant”, while David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ had been undermined by cuts to public spending.He said a Labour government would “harness civil society as one of the three key engines for renewal working alongside the public and private sectors”.While he acknowledged that the sector was “stretched” financially, he said that his shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, wouldn’t “permit” him to make funding commitments on the hoof. Related TopicsConservative PartyRNLIKeir StarmerNational TrustLabour PartyMore on this storyRNLI donations increase after migrant rescue criticismPublished29 July 2021