Tag Archives: Culture

Survey shows there IS a culture of bullying in Priti Patel’s Home Office

The bully: and it seems Priti Patel is presiding over a culture of bullying in the Home Office.

It’s official, then: Priti Patel presides over a culture of bullying and intimidation at the Home Office.

The issue came to public attention when Sir Philip Rutnam resigned as Permanent Secretary for the HO, saying he would be taking Ms Patel to court for constructive dismissal.

He said there had been a “vicious and orchestrated” plot against him, and that he was offered a bribe to stop him from launching court action, in what we must conclude was an attempt to keep it from becoming a matter of public knowledge.

Now we find that the former Permanent Secretary’s situation was not a unique, solitary aberration; a survey of Home Office employees shows that thousands of them have suffered similarly:

The Home Office people survey… results show 16% of respondents claimed they had been discriminated against at work in the past 12 months, roughly equating to 3,375 individuals.

And 14% said they had been bullied or harassed at work in the same period, roughly equal to 2,950 employees.

Of those who claimed they had been bullied, 1,444 said the nature of bullying was “negative micromanagement eg excessive control; made to feel incompetent”, while 1,242 respondents said they had been “humiliated in front of team or others”.

This is the accusation that was levelled against Ms Patel, of course.

The rot comes from the top; Ms Patel presides over a culture of intimidation – and in the meantime she has been falsely assuming credit for measures to restrict the spread of coronavirus.

She has to go.

Source: Survey of thousands of Home Office staff revives bullying row | Home Office | The Guardian

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Second reshuffle in a day for May as she makes Hunt the Unhealthy her new foreign secretary

“Now, see here, Jeremy – you’re the new Foreign Secretary and you’d better get used to it!””Yes ma’am! I live to serve, ma’am!”

If this motley crew is the best Theresa May can dredge up to form the latest version of her government, she should throw in the towel now.

Jeremy Hunt – a pathetic, chinless yes-man who, through a mixture of malice and incompetence, has managed to ruin the National Health Service – becomes Foreign Secretary. It is a gift that has been tarnished by the fact that Theresa May reportedly offered it to David Davis in a vain attempt to persuade him not to resign from her government last night – and then tried to lie about it, saying she offered him Andrea Leadsom’s job as Leader of the House of Commons instead.

Matt Hancock – another toadie whose most recent scandal involved the launch of an app in his name which collected contact details, photos and videos, check-ins, and other digital content, even when users had denied permission for it to do so – is the new Health Secretary. How many scandals have there been about Tory health secretaries trying to collect and sell off patients’ information to private companies for unknown purposes?

Jeremy Wright becomes Culture Secretary after making such a huge impression as Attorney General that people think the role is still held by Dominic Grieve.

I had to look up Geoffrey Cox, the new Attorney General, on Wikipedia. It seems he is a barrister, so that’s something. Beyond that, he is notable only for having been involved in an alleged tax avoidance scheme. And now he’s our top lawyer? Hmm!

What a shambles. In fact, that’s what the new government should be dubbed: “Theresa May’s Brexit Shambles.”

Jeremy Hunt was named as foreign secretary to replace Boris Johnson on Monday night, one of three men who supported remain during the referendum campaign who were promoted in an evening reshuffle.

The health secretary was called to Downing Street to be offered the job by Theresa May after a tumultuous day of resignations in response to her soft Brexit plans.

Matt Hancock, the culture secretary, was appointed as Hunt’s successor at health, while Jeremy Wright, the attorney general, is to become culture secretary.

The Tory MP Geoffrey Cox was later named as the new attorney general.

Source: Jeremy Hunt appointed to replace Boris Johnson as foreign secretary | Politics | The Guardian

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Even during the Tory conference, Labour is stealing the limelight

Culture of secrecy: Theresa May.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has published an article on the PoliticsHome website, showing how Labour would reverse the “culture of secrecy” created in the Home Office by the Tories.

And who, exactly, has been in charge of the Home Office for most of the seven long years we’ve had a Conservative-led government?

Who is responsible for the

Leaked documents, misconceived policies, suppressed reports, judicial condemnations, false statistics and ‘accidental’ deportations

mentioned by Ms Abbott?

Why, that would be the current prime minister, Theresa May.

Grenfell survivors are still living with the threat of deportation, deaths in police custody continue, police stations are being closed and the fire service continues to be run down.

The Home Office is the government department primarily responsible for the safety and security of our citizens. Yet under the Tory government, the failure to exercise this duty is exposed across all fronts.

Each of these failings must be addressed thoroughly and urgently. But they also appear to be symptomatic of a deeper malaise, which must be rooted out to prevent a recurrence of this chaos.

This malaise would be the culture of secrecy, which Ms Abbott asserts is the product of Tory ministers – like Mrs May – attempting to “escape all scrutiny and accountability”.

She writes:

This culture of secrecy infects all other areas. So, reports into deaths in police custody, on the international funding of terrorism which may aggravate the Saudi royal family, into the effects of racism and on the impact of international students are all suppressed.

Labour in government will end this chaos. We will not set arbitrary and unworkable immigration targets. We recognise the invaluable contribution that migrants make to our society, to all areas of our public and social life, and to our economy. We will introduce a new immigration system to reflect those very different values.

We will end the targeted harassment of EU and non-EU nationals alike and begin to treat them both fairly. We will also uphold the right to a family life, in contrast to current rules and practice, which denies UK citizens the right to reunite their families if they happen to be married to a non-UK citizen.

We are committed to begin reversing cuts made by the Tories in police numbers, in the fire service and in the Border Force personnel. We will also review the priorities of the security services to ensure the greatest possible resources are devoted to combatting terrorism here.

Finally, we will establish a new Home Office-led agency to coordinate the response to tragedies like Grenfell, and impose solutions on recalcitrant bodies where necessary.

This government’s priority is the scapegoating of others for their own failings. Labour’s priority is the security and wellbeing of the entire population.

That seems better than anything so far declared at the Tory conference!

Source: Diane Abbott: A culture of secrecy infects all areas of this government | PoliticsHome.com


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Poor? Want to be an actor, artist, or work in culture? Forget it.

[Image: Getty Images.]

Careers in the arts and culture are perks for the rich from now on – as Christopher Eccleston warned, not so long ago.

The arts industry is suffering from a “class-shaped hole”, a Labour Party inquiry says.

The Acting Up report suggests the high audition costs for drama school is one of several factors deterring people from working class backgrounds from entering the arts.

It also recommends more school trips to the theatre to encourage young pupils.

The government said it was a “priority” to ensure everyone can take part in the arts and culture, including in schools.

Source: Arts suffering from ‘class-shaped hole’, Labour inquiry finds – BBC News


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New chair of parliamentary committee overseeing UK press in the pay of Rupert Murdoch? | Pride’s Purge

161107-media-commitee-membership
Clearly IPSA hasn’t noticed. Or maybe it has…

It must be great working in the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, making up excuses to allow MPs to do all the things they’re not supposed to.

All with absolutely no accountability at all.

The new chair of the parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee is Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe Damian Collins.

Damian’s job will be to make sure the committee continues its crucial work of calling to account and overseeing the UK press and media in a rigorous and completely unbiased way.

I’m sure Damian will be completely unhindered in this task by the fact his publisher is Harper Collins – and this year he has received thousands of pounds in advance fees from the publisher for a mysterious new book he hasn’t yet written.

That would be the Harper Collins owned by Rupert Murdoch.

So no conflict of interest there then …

Source: New chair of parliamentary committee overseeing UK press in the pay of Rupert Murdoch? | Pride’s Purge

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Challenged to defend their record of persecution against the disabled, Tories have nothing to say

Debbie Abrahams in the House of Commons.

Debbie Abrahams in the House of Commons.

How pleasant to hear this said in a Parliamentary debate, with not a single word of denial from the Conservative Government:

“Last week there was an amazing sequence of events. On Monday, the Secretary of State told me that he could not publish … data because they were not kept, and told me to stop scaremongering; on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said that they would be published; and this was swiftly followed by the Government saying that they were appealing against the Information Commissioner’s ruling, stating that publishing these data would lead to ‘probable misinterpretations’ and ‘was too emotive…and wasn’t in the public interest’. What an absolute shambles!”

This was part of the speech by Debbie Abrahams, Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, in a debate on ‘welfare reform and people with disabilities’, called by her to set the scene for any measures against the disabled that George Osborne is considering for his July budget. As the Government prepares to cut £12 billion from the annual social security budget next week, there are real concerns that – in addition to potentially slashing tax credits for the working poor – they will cut further support for working-age people with disabilities.

She was referring, of course, to the government’s increasingly confused response to This Writer’s request for an honest answer to the question, ‘How many people have died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance between November 2011 and May 2014 (the date of my request)?” But wait! She continued:

“I could not disagree more. This is definitely in the public interest. As a former public health academic, I am more than aware of the strict criteria for establishing causality, but there are no grounds for not publishing numbers of actual deaths as well as the Government-proposed standardised mortality ratios, including those who died within six weeks of being found fit for work. Will the Minister now confirm when these data will be published?

Dear reader, it falls to This Writer to report that not one word came back from the Government benches – not even when the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Justin Tomlinson (who?) got onto his hind legs to give the Government’s response to the debate.

You can sign the petition demanding that the Government end its appeal against the order to publish the statistics, and provide the figures to the public, on the Change.org website.

She also asked when the Government will publish redacted information on the circumstances of the deaths of claimants who died while sanctioned, and what changes the DWP instigated in the light of reviews of these deaths – and whether the significant surge in suicide rates for both men and women since 2010— particularly for working-age men—is being analysed by the DWP. No response.

The Government doesn’t have anything to say to the sick, disabled or vulnerable, and even less to say about them.

Ms Abrahams began her speech by pointing out, “It is poignant that this debate falls on the very day that the Independent Living Fund closes. A further £1.2 billion is being cut from support for people with disabilities. Such cuts were a hallmark of the Tory-led coalition, and many are concerned that not only will this increase but the cuts will get worse under this Government.

“I … want to draw attention to the punitive and dehumanising culture that has been part of the delivery of these welfare reforms, which set the tone for the leadership within the Department for Work and Pensions and the Government’s wider tone on social security.”

Here’s a quick precis of the facts: She said that, by 2018, £23.8 billion of support would have been taken from 3.7 million people with disabilities, according to Demos. The measures include:

  • Indexation of social security payments was changed from the higher retail prices index to the lower consumer prices index
  • There was also a 1% cap on the uprating of certain working-age benefits.
  • People on incapacity benefit were reassessed.
  • The time that disabled people in the work-related activity group are able to receive the employment and support allowance was limited.
  • Disabled people in receipt of disability living allowance are being reassessed to determine whether they are eligible for the personal independence payment.
  • Disability benefits are approximately 15% of average earnings. With the recent changes—the 1% uprating and the indexation to the consumer prices index—they will fall even further below those in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
  • People with disabilities are twice as likely to live in persistent poverty as non-disabled people: 80% of disability-related poverty is caused by extra costs. This has implications for disabled people’s families – a third of all families living in poverty include one disabled family member.
  • Since the Government’s new sanctions regime, the rate of sanctioning of people on IB and ESA has doubled.

She said part of the Government’s strategy has been the “invidious” spreading of a culture of blame and fear.

“In the 1980s we saw the unions being targeted; today the focus is on the poor and the vulnerable.

“The narrative associated with the so-called welfare reforms has been one of divide and rule, deliberately attempting to vilify people who receive social security as the new undeserving poor.

“The Government have spread a culture of pejorative language, such as “shirkers” and “scroungers”. They have intentionally attempted to demonise social security recipients, including disabled people.

“The innuendo that people with a disability or illness might be faking it or are feckless is, quite frankly, grotesque… Unfortunately, the regular misuse of statistics is another way that the Government are trying to harden the public’s attitude.

“The facts are that, in an ageing population, the largest proportion of social security recipients are pensioners and not, as is often implied, the workshy.”

The whole debate can be found here.

Additional: It has been pointed out to me that Mr Tomlinson stated: “We will be publishing them [sic] the mortality stats—I know the hon. Lady is keen to see them soon; we would all like to see them as soon as possible.” Since he did not define the form those statistics would take, nor did he provide a firm date on which they would be published, it seems clear that what he did say was as near to nothing as makes no odds.

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UKIP and their idea of culture – Guy Debord’s Cat

"Policies for brain-dead people. But a UKIP government? Isn't that wishful thinking?" Words and image by Guy Debord's Cat.

“Policies for brain-dead people. But a UKIP government? Isn’t that wishful thinking?” Words and image by Guy Debord’s Cat.

I’ve just returned home to find this UKIP election leaflet on my door mat, writes the author of Guy Debord’s Cat.

My eyes were drawn to the section marked “culture” and nowhere does it mention the word ‘art’. Instead, we are treated to a list of things, which have little or no relevance to culture.

At the top of the list is this predictable pronouncement:

UKIP recognises and values an overarching, unifying British culture, which is open and inclusive to anyone who wishes to identify with Britain and British values, regardless of their ethnic or religious background.

Two questions – and these are questions that I’ve posed to white nationalists when they bleat about “British culture”: what is British culture and what are British values? Readers, I have to tell you that I have yet to receive an answer. All I get for my trouble is personal abuse and paranoid assertions about how this country is being “contaminated” with “foreign cultures”. There is no such thing as “British culture”and  as for “British values” one could argue that this includes bullying, an obsession with property ownership and institutionalized child sexual abuse. But we don’t like talking about those things, do we?

And that’s just the start of the article! For more illumination of UKIP, visit the original piece on Guy Debord’s Cat.

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How clueless do you have to be to believe Iain Duncan Smith?

131101IDS1

The Man With No Time for the Truth is back again with more of the same shenanigans.

Iain Duncan Smith reckons his huge and unnecessary benefit cuts are breaking up the culture of unemployment on the UK’s housing estates – a culture he likened to that shown in the TV drama Shameless.

There’s just one problem with what he’s saying: It’s rubbish.

“The Work and Pensions Secretary revealed that cuts to jobless hand-outs had reduced the number of workless households in council homes to the lowest level since records began,” shrilled the Express report on Friday.

Apparently nobody had pointed out to either RTU or the Express that removing people from the unemployment figures does not automatically mean they are in work. It is far more likely to mean that our heartless Tory-led government of selfishness has consigned these people to destitution.

That’s of no consequence to Iain I-Believe-I’m-Right. If they’re off his books, he doesn’t worry about them. What a fine Christian attitude from this upstanding and still un-excommunicated Catholic.

“We are beginning to change this dependency culture that Labour bred and are turning it into an independence culture where people see they can take control of their own lives,” he lied. Throwing them to the wolves is not making them independent.

He added that the proportion of people in social housing who do not work had fallen from just under 50 per cent in 2010 to 41 per cent – and that he believed it would fall below 40 per cent. Perhaps this is because he has engineered a situation in which increasing numbers of unemployed people, unable to pay his Satanic Bedroom Tax, are being thrown onto the streets?

“People are beginning to say – I ought to go to work, I have to go to work,” he gloated, knowing that his party had devised a poverty trap in which falling wages are ensuring that people going to work will be no better-off for it.

People are, in fact, telling themselves they have to get off benefits before Iain Duncan Smith kills them – just as his policies have killed tens of thousands of incapacity benefit claimants.

And now the Tories reckon the country should support their plan to cut the maximum amount a household should claim in benefits from an already too-low £26,000 a year to £23,000. The original figure was in line with a Tory lie about the average family income. Does this mean incomes have dropped by £3,000 a year since they imposed the cap?

It seems the money ‘saved’ by the increased cap would fund three million apprenticeships, as David Cameron says he wants to “abolish” youth unemployment.

As ever, the devil’s in the detail. The money would be used to give 18-21-year-olds a six-month window to “find” work or training – but would be withdrawn if they did not carry out “community projects” like cleaning local parks.

And will any long-term jobs result? Or will these youngsters be thrown back after the money runs out, to be branded SNLR (as Iain Duncan Smith was, back in his Army days) – Services No Longer Required?

This is work formerly carried out by convicted criminals, which tells you everything you need to know about the Conservative attitude to unemployed youth.

Sajid Javid, the man who trivialised the WWI centenary, shames himself on the economy

Sajid Javid? No - this is The Collector, from the Doctor Who serial The Sun Makers, but it's an easy mistake to make. This charmer's game was extorting taxes from human refugees who had fled the death of the sun to live under artificial heat sources on Pluto(!) - but revolution triggers a recession in which he literally shrinks down to nothing, disappearing into the commode he appears to be sitting on. If only Mr Javid would do the same!

Sajid Javid? No – this is The Collector, from the Doctor Who serial The Sun Makers, but it’s an easy mistake to make. This charmer’s game was extorting taxes from human refugees who had fled the death of the sun to live under artificial heat sources on Pluto(!) – but revolution triggers a recession in which he literally shrinks down to nothing, disappearing into the commode he appears to be sitting on. If only Mr Javid would do the same!

They say the secret of great comedy is timing, and Sajid Javid’s speech lambasting Labour’s ability with the economy could not come at a better time – to make a fool of him.

Javid heads up the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – you know, the government organisation that offended everybody earlier this week by denying everybody but the Prime Minister a chance to write a personal message on the wreaths laid at a First World War centenary commemoration in Glasgow.

Having made one faux pas already this week, Javid was set to ram his foot even further down his own gullet with his speech knocking Labour.

According to the Telegraph, he was planning to say that Labour’s “basic instinct” is to spend money, the party’s economic policies will leave Britain £500 billion worse-off, and this will be the equivalent of two-thirds of national income in 2035, while the Conservative approach would make it the equivalent of one-third of GDP.

The speech met with scorn before it was even made, over on alittleecon. In an article headlined Tory Minister Sajid Javid plucks some numbers out of his arse, author Alex Little pointed out:

  • Sajid Javid does not understand economics; national debt is merely an indicator of how much a government wants the economy to be funded by the private sector or the public. As government debt is issued in the form of bonds, all of it represents somebody else’s savings and more government debt means more private savings, while the economy is funded by the public sector.
  • Whether a low debt-to-GDP ratio is better than a higher one depends entirely on how it has been achieved. A fast-growing, dynamic economy can have a high level of government debt, while a slow-growing economy could have a very low debt-to-GDP ratio.
  • His timescale covers the next 20 years, making his claim a nonsense from the start. The electoral cycle is only five years so, for Labour to win in 2015 and continue winning until the date Mr Javid uses, they’d have to be doing something right!
  • Of course, Labour has not produced any spending plans yet and, when they arrive, the totals are unlikely to be hugely different from the Tories’ (although the way the money is used may differ greatly). So Mr Javid has (as Mr Little rather indelicately puts it) plucked some numbers out of his arse.

Mr Javid’s week is going very well – he has ruined a major ceremony with the behaviour of a schoolboy, then followed it up by showing that his understanding of economics – wasn’t he Financial Secretary to the Treasury before moving to the DCMS? Coupled with George Osborne as Chancellor, this could explain much – is worse than that of a schoolboy. And it’s only Wednesday.

Let’s all hope he goes for the hat trick.

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Tory disrespect stains WWI centenary commemoration

Disrespectful: The laminated messages that were attached to the wreaths. David Cameron was the only political leader allowed to write a personal message by the Conservative-run Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Disrespectful: The laminated messages that were attached to the wreaths. David Cameron was the only political leader allowed to write a personal message by the Conservative-run Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

This is a new low for the Conservative Party.

Leaders of British political organisations laid wreaths at Glasgow’s cenotaph to mark 100 years since the beginning of the First World War – but only David Cameron was allowed to write a personal message.

Worse than that, the Conservative Party and its allies then attacked leaders of the other parties – in particular Ed Miliband – for failing to do the same.

Former Tory MP Louise Mensch showed exactly why she deserves to be out of Parliament by tweeting: “Really we need to ask where we are as a society, when politicians are so casual as ‘hand me the wreath’ without asking to write on it.”

And Telegraph blogger Dan Hodges brought his paper into disrepute by tweeting, without checking the facts: “Just seen the wreath. Ed Miliband is becoming a parody of Ed Miliband.”

Asked to explain Mr Miliband’s actions, a Labour spokesman told the BBC that his wreath – with a card stating only “From the Leader of the Opposition” – was handed to him by a representative of organisers the Department of Culture, Media and Sport only seconds before it was laid.

“Ed Miliband was not given the opportunity to write a personal message on the wreath,” he said.

Perhaps an even worse indignity was that into which Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was forced. His read “From the Deputy Prime Minister” and a Liberal Democrat source said the gap between Mr Clegg being handed the wreath and laying it had been “a 10-second thing”.

The BBC checked with the manufacturers of the wreaths – Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Edinburgh, and was passed on to Poppy Scotland, whose spokeswoman said: “We were asked to send [the cards] to the DCMS and the wreaths were sent through to Glasgow in advance, but the blank cards to London.”

So what happened, in fact, was that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – which is run by the Conservative Sajid Javid – decided that the Conservative Prime Minister should be the only person allowed to write a personalised tribute. Every other political leader – including those of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland – had to lay wreaths with a laminated description of their job, so they could not even scribble something quickly in the few seconds available to them.

The tell-tale was the fact that all messages other than Cameron’s were written in the same handwriting.

Worse still is the fact that Cameron’s message wasn’t even appropriate. He had written “Your most enduring legacy is our liberty. We must never forget.” Very stirring, but it would be more appropriate to attribute that to those who died in the Second World War, rather than the First.

Also, as Thomas G Clark pointed out adroitly in his Another Angry Voice blog:  “I´m pretty sure that most would agree that the practice of remembrance is a much more tangible and enduring legacy than the general concept of “liberty“, especially given that Cameron and his rotten government have striven relentlessly to undermine “liberty” with grotesque totalitarian and anti-democratic legislation such as the “secret courts” bill, retroactive workfare sanctions, the “Gagging Law” and the “DRIP spooks charter“.”

Worst of all is the fact that the sacrifice of more than a million British lives, and the suffering caused to more than 1.5 million British people who were wounded, some so severely that they suffered the consequences for the rest of their lives, has been overshadowed by a petty squabble engineered by small-minded Tories who wanted to make themselves look better than everyone else.

It was a silly tactic, easily exposed. David Cameron’s only logical move was to apologise for what happened, for the insult to his fellow political leaders and for the upset it has undoubtedly caused to all those who lost loved ones in the war and wanted them commemorated respectfully.

True to form, he showed he had a yellow streak instead. Our gutless Prime Minister had nothing to say.

We should all send him the White Feather.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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