The Daily Telegraph

Telegraph readers raise £726,000 for our charities

- By Caroline Barrett-haigh

A TOTAL of £726,000 has been raised by readers for The Telegraph Christmas Charity Appeal 2022.

Each of our four charities – Age UK, Action for Children, Macmillan Cancer Support and Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) – have been overwhelme­d by the support they have received from Telegraph readers.

Melanie Armstrong, chief executive of Action for Children, said: “We are immensely grateful. These funds will help us provide critical support.”

RBLI chief executive Lisa Farmer said: “The Telegraph have made sure veteran voices are heard, especially Armed Forces veterans overcoming homelessne­ss, injury and mental health crisis.”

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Age UK, said: “From the bottom of my heart I want to thank each and every one of you for your generosity.”

The Telegraph Christmas Charity Appeal has run for more than 100 years. It has raised close to £30 million.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, continues to pay a political price for her ill-advised foray into social reform. Her Gender Recognitio­n Reform Bill may have been vetoed by the UK Government, using its reserved powers under the Scotland Act, but the legal arguments surroundin­g this dispute have been superseded by the case of a rapist who, after claiming to be a transwoman, was initially sent to a female-only prison.

In a bewilderin­g series of interviews, Ms Sturgeon and her ministers have struggled to answer even basic questions about this appalling affair – including whether they think the double rapist is a man or woman. One SNP minister said the latter – an opinion that the First Minister formerly held. Now, however, she insists that the miscreant awaiting sentence, having been transferre­d to a male prison, is simply a “rapist”.

This is hardly a matter on which confusion or prevaricat­ion is acceptable. As critics of Ms Sturgeon’s Bill argued, the danger of allowing trans people to self-declare their gender – with few or any legal safeguards – was always that predatory men might exploit the rules to endanger women, particular­ly vulnerable women. Whatever their views on the gender ideology debate, politician­s have a duty to be straightfo­rward with the public on the matter.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has been clear. A woman is an “adult human female”, he said this week, adding for good measure that “biological sex really matters”. Labour’s position, however, is at least as confused as that of the SNP. Last year, Sir Keir Starmer refused to answer questions about whether he believed women could have penises and he has shown an almost patrician distaste for the trans issue, saying he didn’t want to be drawn on what he described as the “usual, toxic political football”.

That is not good enough, particular­ly when Rosie Duffield, the feminist Labour MP, has said that the party has a women problem. She was shouted down in the Commons by another Labour backbenche­r over her views on transgende­r matters, and compared being in the party with being in an abusive relationsh­ip.

Labour might think that it can avoid this debate. It is certainly true that issues such as the state of the economy, the NHS, schools and immigratio­n are more likely to dominate the next general election. However, it is also clear that events in Scotland have opened many voters’ eyes to what can happen when ideology is allowed to trump facts, and when the interests of women are disregarde­d by politician­s seeking a progressiv­e political legacy. Sir Keir should tell us what he really thinks.

German naivety

Germany has long been vulnerable to infiltrati­on from the East. The Stasi spymaster Markus Wolf was famed for his success in penetratin­g West Germany’s institutio­ns, going so far as to plant an agent in the office of Chancellor Willy Brandt, who was forced to resign when the truth emerged. Today, the country’s leaders still clearly have much to reflect on. Gerhard Schröder’s nauseating chumminess with Vladimir Putin is well known. But Angela Merkel somehow retains her spotless reputation among liberals despite overseeing a series of strategic blunders with regard to Russia, for which she will not properly apologise to this day.

Now the country’s intelligen­ce agency is in crisis. The Federal Intelligen­ce Service, the BND, is investigat­ing a second possible Russian spy in its ranks, amid allegation­s that secrets were passed to the Kremlin. The gravity of the case is exceptiona­l, but is surely typical of the vulnerabil­ity of a country that has long been breathtaki­ngly naive about the true nature of the Russian threat. It has been reported that Ukraine was fearful about sharing its defence plans with its friends in the West, lest they end up in the hands of the Russians via double agents in Berlin. If so, that may turn out to have been a wise decision.

A year ago, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a radical change in German foreign and defence policy. “President Putin created a new reality with his invasion of Ukraine. This new reality requires a clear response. We have given it,” he said then. Yet those words have since rung increasing­ly hollow. It is time to show that he truly means what he says by turning Germany’s back on Moscow once and for all.

Something can be done

Why have readers been particular­ly generous to the Telegraph Christmas Charity Appeal? By the end of January, when it closed, donations totalled £726,000, shared between Age UK, Action for Children, Macmillan Cancer Support and Royal British Legion Industries. These are hard times for many, yet generous readers gave the most for a decade. No doubt they know that, in difficult days, this year’s charities really make a difference to people, using voluntary donations effectivel­y. Among many who spoke of the benefits they had experience­d was the jazz musician Lauretta, aged 100, who told The Telegraph of the reassuranc­e she felt from being able to use the Telephone Friendship Service offered by Age UK if she should feel lonely. These charities change lives for the better – with your help.

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