A retired conservationist who was appointed by an ‘anti-awakening’ insurgent group as a backing candidate for the upcoming National Trust elections says he was never consulted by activists and disagrees with them.
Michael Goodhart, 67, told The Guardian he was surprised to see his name topping a list of six candidates endorsed by the Restore Trust because he did not support their goals before what is seen as a turbulent National Trust AGM.
“It just shows how shallow the organizations are that are making recommendations of this nature without contacting those involved,” he said.
The National Trust warned this week of the damage it faces from what it calls an ideological campaign waged against it by self-described “anti-awakening” insurgents whom the charity has accused of trying to fuel divisions.
In contrast to the Restore Trust ‘rebels’, Goodhart said he strongly supported the National Trust in a report the charity released last year that shows the connections between 93 of its historic sites and colonialism and slavery.
Since then, NT has held “colonial country” themed exhibits at some properties and modified the labeling of the collections.
Goodhart said that The Twisted Threads of Polly Freeman, the last children’s book by his wife, Pippa Goodhart, was about a girl struggling to find her identity and freedom as she moved from the asylum to the Quarry Bank Cotton Mill near Manchester in 1838.
“I strongly believe that we should not hide these stories like this and if that is what it means to be ‘awake’ then I am very supportive of that idea.”
Goodhart’s candidacy for one of six vacant seats on the NT’s governing council was motivated more by his firm belief that the charity had sufficient funds and a flow of donations to mitigate or ensure that it did not participate in the cuts that had been made. affected volunteers and other jobs. .
The Trust was urged to speak out earlier this week when members raised concerns about a variety of “extreme” positions taken by individuals involved in the Restore Trust.
The group, which has no connection to The Restore Trust, a Bristol-based non-profit organization, has talked about creating a tens of thousands of pounds ‘fighting fund’ and is now also using paid ads on the social networks to try to influence the election.
The trust, one of Britain’s largest landowners, also fears for its carbon neutral policies in the face of challenge from the Restore Trust (RT), which it says is waging a culture war on several fronts.
The directors of RT include a financier who has backed a major climate-skeptical lobby group and currently chairs another.
Members of the charity have also expressed particular concern about RT’s endorsement of Stephen Green, the leader of a Christian fundamentalist lobby group that accuses NT leaders of being “obsessed with LGBT issues.”
Like Goodhart, Green has said he has had no connection to the Restore Trust, but instead said he was grateful for the group’s support.
The so-called ‘culture war’ issues the Restore Trust has been involved in are expected to come to a head at the NT AGM in Harrogate later this month. The vote has already been taking place online.
The charity’s communications director, Celia Richardson, said in a blog posted on its website this week that the trust’s history has been replete with internal debate.
“They have often reflected the social problems of the day. In the past, there have been disagreements over everything from nuclear weapons to nude beaches, badger slaughter, wind farms and even our recipe for flapjack, ”he added.
“For many decades, that simple, unifying goal has gathered crowds and often allowed them to overcome large differences in ideology.”
A spokesperson for the Restore Trust said he had been advised not to contact Goodhart, “as he signed an agreement with NT not to promote himself, so we did not want to put him at risk of disqualification.”
“Like Mr. Goodhart, we do not want aspects of the story to be hidden, but we want it to be explained in a balanced, precise and academic way,” he added. “Having said that, RT believes that Mr. Goodhart and the other candidates have what it takes to hold the trustees accountable.”