As I write, there has been no formal statement from the Labour Party about the Oxfam abuse scandal. There has been surprisingly little Twitter outrage. There has been no equivalent of the #MeToo movement that, only a few weeks ago, was making powerful men run for shelter.

Obviously, a political party can't comment on each passing news story, and even the most permanently outraged campaigners can't remain at volume 10 on every issue. Even so, the relatively muted response is odd.

Consider, by way of contrast, the competitive rage that greeted a sordid charity dinner at the Dorchester last month. That story dominated our news cycle for eight days straight and, with each new revelation, social media activists strove to be visibly angrier than each other.

The Presidents Club dinner was louche by any measure. Some of the businessmen present turned out to be boorish, lewd, seedy oafs. They deserved the censure they got.

Still, on any reckoning, the Oxfam revelations are far more disturbing. Set aside the fact that, unlike the Presidents Club, Oxfam receives public money. Its misdemeanours are in a different league. Groping a waitress is reprehensible; but exploiting vulnerable women in a disaster zone when you're supposed to be in charge of helping local people is monstrous.

This is true, whether you take a traditional view of sexual morality, or whether, like many on the left, you insist on seeing everything in terms of privilege, dominance and hierarchies of victimhood. A badly paid waitress at a squalid all-male dinner is in a position of relative weakness. So is a would-be starlet hoping to catch the eye of a famous director. But how much greater is the gap between a hungry girl in an earthquake zone and the little gods who descend on the ruins to dispense food and shelter?

So why is the outrage not louder by a similar proportion? The Presidents Club was shut down in response to the condemnation. But Oxfam sails on, its defenders quick with their excuses: lots of good work globally, a few bad apples, all reported at the time, blah blah. One columnist even argued that the correct response would be to give Oxfam more money.

As a matter of fact, I'm not sure these excuses are true, let alone sufficient. There are charities out there doing heroic work in terrible places, but Oxfam seems at least as interested in lobbying against capitalism as in distributing aid. The scandal here was not that there was one bad employee – any organisation can have that problem – but that there was culture that shielded him (and others) and allowed him to be quietly moved to similar work elsewhere. The misdemeanours were not reported at the time, at least not in full. And if the government has more money at its disposal, let it fund charities that will spend it on schools, clinics and disaster relief, not on advocacy.

What explains our asymmetric response? I think it's a piece of faulty wiring in the human brain. We tend to divide the world, at least subconsciously, into goodies and baddies. Wealthy businessmen do not engage our sympathies as easily as aid workers. We are less willing to give them a pass.

Oxfam logo
The logo on the front of an Oxfam bookshop ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

Giving an organisation a pass more or less guarantees, paradoxically, that its standards deteriorate. A combination of moral superiority and lack of serious public scrutiny is more than most organisations can bear. No one who lives in close proximity to the mega-charities in poor countries will be especially surprised by these revelations.

Consider the United Nations, whose personnel have been involved in some truly abominable crimes: running prostitution rings, ivory smuggling, trading aid for sex. Because it is the United Nations – because, in other words, it embodies the lofty ideal of peace among countries – it is not subject to anything like the same censure that a national government or a private organisation would in similar circumstances.

During the recent referendum, I found that many students, in particular, even placed the EU in that category. They weren't interested in examples or mismanagement, lack of accountability or outright corruption. Because the EU had come in their minds to stand for Good Things, anyone who opposed it was a racist, and any criticism of it was politically motivated.

In a more extreme form, that selective blindness led an entire generation of Western intellectuals not to consider the abominations of Stalinism. Communism was a Good Idea. Its exponents Meant Well. Omelettes and eggs and all that.

So it is likely to turn out for Oxfam and other lobbyists-come-charities. There will be a flurry of activity and then, in all likelihood, things will settle down until the next outrage. No one will seriously argue that the nature of these powerful agencies might itself contribute to the problem. That would somehow seem like bad taste.

Daniel Hannan has been Conservative MEP for the South East of England since 1999, and is Secretary-General of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists. Follow : @danieljhannan