Monday, 22 February 2010


It is beginning to look like the “In the Thick of it” image we have of Whitehall (the English and Union Civil Service) is really a lot more realistic than the sedate “Yes Minister” of yesteryear.

Today, following the “Gordon Brown is a bully” allegations which have dominated the news, Peter Baume, general secretary of the First Division Association, which represents “top” people in the Civil Service alleged that bullying is rife across Whitehall and that staff had little power to respond to abuse by politicians and their special advisers.

He said he was not commenting about the Andrew Rawnsley book but confirmed that he knew of a number of cases where staff had been bullied. The victims had, he said, little option but to tolerate it or resign.

"Too often politicians have little idea about what is acceptable in a modern workplace and the behaviour of some ministers and special advisers falls short of what is acceptable on occasions," he said. "Every Government department has clear and unambiguous anti-bullying policies. In theory these should cover ministers. However, in practice no civil servant is likely to make a formal complaint against a minister. Instead, concerns about ministerial behaviour are dealt with through informal channels."

Mr Baume went on to say that if these channels failed, there was nothing the member of staff could do. (I’m not sure what he means by “informal channels”. Could it be that ministers are above the law? I’m not sure why. As Robin Day once said they are “here today and gone tomorrow” functionaries.)

David Cameron responded to the allegations of bullying by asking for an inquiry. He has suggested that Philip Mawer, who is in charge of policing the ministerial code, be asked to look into it.

However, Mr Mandelson, First Secretary, ruled out an inquiry, saying the allegations were "acquiring a slight odour" of being politically motivated.

I don’t know the politics of Andrew Rawnsley, or whether his book was politically motivated. It sure as hell will be motivated by political gain when Cameron has grabbed it and is running with it all the way to the line. But Brown and Mandleson really need to see that you can’t turn on tears for family tragedy, and follow up with tears for your dead mother, and rub your hands with glee as your opponents slip 4 points in opinion polls, and then expect that they won’t seize every opportunity to get even. To such depths has London politics sunk. But if you can’t take it don’t dish it out.

We have discover this last year just how much our MPs have been fiddling. We have seen the tip of the iceberg about how much the Lords are stealing. We are seeing what Anon calls “beeboids” are allegedly entitled to for doing a recreational job, and most recently we discovered that council chiefs are ashamed to let us know how much they pay themselves for fear of reprisals given the appalling quality of service they deliver in return.

Now we are finding that ministers treat staff like punch bags and that there are no formal way of dealing with this..

What on earth is this Union about?

You should read this article over on J Arthur MacNumpy's blog. It's spot on about the current level of political debate.



  1. Queen and Country! sir Queen and Country! need I say more

  2. Part of the problem is of course is this whole set of revelations comes just before a general election, so go figure.
    Now Cameron can call for an investigation, looks good, but clearly no time. Brown can order an investigation, looks good, but no time. Clegg can call for an investigation, looks good, but no time. Salmond can call..............get my drift? It's electioneering smearing on a grand scale with just enough of a hint of truth behind it to stick.
    We'll only find out what was really going on afterwards, as usual.


    She is a right Pratt

    The charity boss who claimed a number of Downing Street employees called her anti-bullying hotline to complain of workplace mistreatment was facing scrutiny today over her alleged behaviour and business affairs.

    The most serious allegations concern claims that Christine Pratt, who runs the National Bullying Helpline (NBH), used the helpline to solicit business for the HR consultancy she runs with her husband.

    One woman said that when she rang the helpline for "confidential, free advice" four years ago after being bullied at work, she was referred to Pratt's firm, HR & Diversity Management (HRDM), which provides mediation services, and paid them £250.

  4. QM:

    Yes, it's politicking at a very very low level, but it appeals to the mentality of people who can't pull their minds any higher than what's happening on "I'm a Celebrity" or who Paris Hilton has shagged this afternoon.

    I was always taught to pitch my delivery at the intellectual level of my audience.... That, it seems, is what they are doing. Sad state of affairs.

    Of course the fact that everything is in a mess and Brown hasn't a clue, and Cameron hasn't a clue could have something to do with it too.

    I very much hope that Mr Salmond will have to good sense not to make anything of this, unless it is proven to happen in the Scottish Civil Service with his Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers.

    What happens in London has nothing to do with him.

  5. I see you did indeed say more Niko.

    Yes, this woman should not have gone public on the matter. She's clearly a fool. She might have tried to make an appointment with, or written in confidence to, Gus O'Donnel if she had concerns.

    But clearly, like everything else in this stinking country, it was all about making money out of people.

    I hope she gets the sack.

  6. Tris
    Dirty dirty election in the offing I am afraid
    not the gutter nor the sewer but the very cesspit of politics.

  7. Yes. It's a pity Niko, but that's the way it is.

  8. It has blown Brown's sickening "interview" with Piers Morgan right out of the water, though, Tris. Who remembers that opportunistic twaddle now, just one week later? ;-)

  9. Yes Barking, but you're not supposed to cover one hideous error with another hideous error are you.

    So he covers that fact that he gives a sickening interview in which he greets about family problems, with the revelation that he is a old bully with a volcanic temper....? Nah, that's not good planning.

    He needs to get Mandy to work on another one.

    Interestingly Mandy going on about a smell...(only clearly now he's an aristo he calls it an "odour"..posh git) don't half make you want to laff...

    Remind me...who was it that was sacked from the Cabinet twice for being on the fiddle...?

    Odour? The cheekly old chancer.

  10. There is more than enough to weep about in the fact that we have two useless collections of half wits fighting over a soggy dog biscuit.

    I personally would prefer a hung parliament ameliorated by the Lib Dems (who in England are not to bad, the Scottish lot are total crap, however) next a Tory government foisted on Scotland by the votes of the English and next a Labour government foisted on the English by the votes of the Scots. I think we will see one of these.

    I think what Lord Voldermort is smelling is the left overs of that green custard that suited his complexion so.

  11. Tris,

    If you are pitching your delivery to the intellectual level of your audience why are you using such big words as "politicking", "mentality" etc.?

    If there is no truth in these allegations, then surely Brown would sue this journalist. My understanding is that Rawnsley did not mention the Cabinet Secretary telling Brown off but that this is rather a diversonary tactic which gave the Cabinet Secretary something that he could truthfully deny.

    Stories regarding Brown have been going the rounds at Westminster for years but ranks were closed until Rawnsley had the courage to bring it out into the open.

  12. Hum Brownlie: I always up the level a wee bit when I know you're gonna read a post.....

    I agree. If Rawnsley's allegations are without foundation then Brown must sue.

    Why are we waiting. All he's done is send out his attack dog to talk about smells, oops sorry, I forgot, he's almost a duke, odour.

    Mr Mandleson talking about odour is a diversionary tactic if you ask me.

  13. Actually, doesn't it just show Munguin, how much we each need our own country.

    The English want a Tory government. The Scots want a Labour government. Whichever way round one won't be satisfied.

    Personally, I think that for the good of the country we should have a hung parliament and Nick Clegg should be the king maker.

    Unfortunately neither of the Kings is worth a damn.

    A madman or empty vessel.... what a choice....