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Web of lies around Priti Patel bullying report: why is she protected if she pushes people to suicide?

I don’t like it when people in my government lie to me.

I have a feeling I share that opinion with many people.

Priti Patel seized on the part of Alex Allan’s report into bullying allegations against her, that said she had not been warned that her behaviour towards civil service employees exceeded the bounds of acceptability.

But it seems that this was because Sir Alex was prevented from interviewing Sir Philip Rutnam, the former Permanent Secretary to the Home Office, who is suing the government for constructive dismissal.

According to The Guardian,

sources say Allan was informed he could not interview Rutnam because of the legal action. Allan, however, felt that his inquiry was being denied potentially crucial evidence.

Rutnam… said she was clearly advised not to shout and swear at staff the month after her appointment in 2019 and that he told her to treat staff with respect “on further occasions”.

The indication that Sir Alex was prevented from interviewing Sir Philip suggests that his claim is correct. Priti Patel – as the person who was given the advice – would therefore have known she had it.

So it seems she lied, in order to make herself look better. That in itself is despicable.

Worse still, we hear that the prime minister – Boris Johnson – himself asked for the report on Patel to be “palatable”. Doesn’t this suggest that he didn’t want the facts – just something he could use to deflect criticism?

Is it any wonder that Sir Alex resigned after Johnson ignored even the findings of his report as it eventually appeared?

Finally, there is the odious spectacle of Tory MPs and ministers rallying to support Patel – a colleague whose loathsome behaviour appears to have pushed one employee into attempting suicide:

Mr Khan attempted to endorse it because his boss told him to help “form a square around the Prittster”.

So now we have an increasing number of Conservative MPs – and, presumably, other Tories – trying to deceive us all into accepting that there’s no reason for Priti Patel to be removed from office.

It seems one bad apple really can spoil the whole barrel. Or were they already spoiled and this episode just showed us the extent of it?

Source: Boris Johnson ‘asked for Patel report to be palatable’, source claims – BBC News

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It’s civil servants v Boris Johnson over Priti Patel’s bullying. Who’s going to believe the known liar?

Priti Patel: smug as ever – perhaps because she’s got Boris Johnson making sure she’ll remain as Home Secretary no matter what is said against her.

Civil servants are now lining up to condemn Home Secretary Priti Patel, while she has support from liars like Boris Johnson and other former – disgraced – ministers like Liam Fox.

A civil servant writing in The Guardian tells us: “Civil servants are supposed to silently get on with it while ministers take the flak… But this very British convention of public life… is now being shredded by an emboldened administration still flexing its muscular majority.

“More colleagues are now coming forward with further allegations against Patel during her time as an employment minister in 2015. That’s in addition to claims that she, as international development secretary, openly called her staff “fucking useless”.

“So it might not be a stretch to say that this feels like like a sort of #MeToo moment for the civil service. Those who, like me, have been around government for several years reckon more allegations are on the way. There may be blood.”

But the writer says it probably won’t be Ms Patel’s.

Yes, there will be a Cabinet Office investigation – but the minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove, has already given her his support.

Not only that: Boris Johnson told MPs he was “sticking by” Ms Patel during Prime Minister’s Questions, saying she was “delivering change, putting police out on the street, cutting crime, and delivering a new immigration system”. He is a known liar, of course.

Oh, and how about this endorsement?

Liam Fox was, if I recall correctly, the very first member of the Conservative government from 2010 onwards who was forced to resign in disgrace.

That is the kind of support she is getting.

Ms Patel may stay on as Home Secretary – let’s face it, it seems clear that Johnson is rigging any investigation in her favour – but she’ll never live down the scandal.

Civil servants don’t make this kind of fuss about nothing.

And she has already been forced to resign from a previous Cabinet job after she tried to carry out her own foreign policy, independent of even the Tory government’s.

As far as This Writer is concerned, she is poison. If she stays, she’ll become a symbol of Tory government bullying, lies and corruption.

Source: The Priti Patel allegations are turning into a #MeToo moment for the civil service | The civil servant | Opinion | The Guardian

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Calls for independent inquiry into Patel’s behaviour as evidence mounts up

Priti Patel and Boris Johnson: allies against the civil service?

The Cabinet Office has launched an inquiry into whether Priti Patel has breached the ministerial code by bullying civil servants under her.

But MPs including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are demanding an independent inquisition as more evidence against her comes to light.

For example, Sir Philip Rutnam’s claim that he was offered a “financial settlement” to keep him from speaking out about the “vicious and orchestrated” plot against him may be validated by claims that another civil servant was driven to a suicide attempt by Ms Patel’s behaviour towards her at the Department for Work and Pensions.

The person involved apparently was shouted at, told to get lost and dismissed from her job in the minister’s private office because Ms Patel “doesn’t like your face”, according to legal correspondence seen by the BBC. She took an overdose of prescription medicines and had to be taken home by her husband, where she attempted to kill herself, the legal correspondence said.

The victim later brought a complaint for unfair dismissal, harassment, victimisation and discrimination, but the DWP hushed it up with a £25,000 settlement without admitting liability.

Worse than this is the claim that Boris Johnson himself has given support to ministers who wish to smear top civil servants.

Dave Penman, head of the senior civil servants union, the FDA, said Johnson and his closest aides have “ripped up the rule book” that ensured the ministers do not attack civil servants.

The allegation means it would be impossible to trust the finding of a Cabinet Office inquiry which could be influenced by Johnson.

Meanwhile the pressure is building against Ms Patel, with calls increasing for her to be suspended as a minister while her behaviour is investigated.

This is a power struggle at the heart of government.

Or so it seems to This Writer.

On one side, we have a civil service staffed by experts on government who know that politics is “the art of the possible” and are bound to advise MPs on how much of their plans are both possible and advisable.

On the other: a rabble of hard-right Tory authoritarians whose belief that their orders should be obeyed – no matter how insane – has been compared with fascism.

You’d better pray that the side of reason wins.

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Another sick Tory joke: Zero-hours contracts for civil servants

Somebody should remind the Conservative Party of the old adage that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

We certainly have monkeys running the UK government at the moment, because more than 80,000 full-time civil servants have left their jobs since the Conservatives started their reign of idiocy in 2010.

Now you know why nothing works properly.

The Tories actually thought it was a good idea to get rid of the people who actually know how to run government properly – Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove have been particularly keen on this.

Now, despite planning to get rid of a further 80,000 experienced and intelligent public servants – and thereby plunge the United Kingdom further into their new Dark Age, the Tories have started re-hiring some of the old hands they have already laid off.

Here’s the catch: They’re coming back on zero-hours contracts.

At one level, this might seem a good idea. Zero-hours work was always intended for people who had made their money already and merely wanted something productive to do in their spare time.

But no formerly-senior civil servant with any self-respect should be taking it up because they should know they are worth more – and because zero-hours work has been tarnished by the abuses of such contracts to harm the prospects of the genuinely poor.

This Blog predicts the only people taking up the offer will be ideological Conservatives, who will blindly follow the Tory line without advising on any better alternatives because they believe in it, and those who need the money and will do what they’re told for fear of losing it.

That will not give us good government.

Retired and redundant civil servants are being re-recruited to government jobs under a pilot scheme launched by the Cabinet Office. Some former staff are being re-employed using zero-hours contracts when full-time employees cannot cope with the workload, a leaked document shows.

The disclosure of the pilot, dubbed by opponents as a “Dad’s Army” solution to Whitehall’s staffing crisis, comes as mandarins brace themselves for further cuts. More than 80,000 full-time civil servants have left their jobs since 2010 with a similar number expected to leave during the current parliament.

Source: Government scheme to rehire former civil servants on zero-hours contracts | Politics | The Guardian

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MP asks civil servant to check whether DWP to blame for benefit deaths – Disability News Service

Getting a bit rough, is it? Esther McVey dissembles desperately in an attempt not to answer questions posed by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee.

Getting a bit rough, is it? Esther McVey dissembles desperately in an attempt not to answer questions posed by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee.

A senior civil servant has been asked by an MP to examine whether any of the 49 secret reviews into benefit-related deaths concluded that the government had been partly to blame, writes John Pring for the Disability News Service.

The question came as Conservative employment minister Esther McVey was giving evidence to an inquiry into benefit sanctions policy.

Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, a member of the work and pensions committee that is conducting the inquiry, told McVey there was “an increasing… and a worrying number of deaths that are being associated with sanctions”.

Her questions came in the wake of a series of Freedom of Information Act requests by Disability News Service (DNS), which have revealed that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has carried out 60 – a figure later corrected by civil servants to 49 – internal “peer” reviews into benefit-related deaths since February 2012.

Abrahams asked McVey how many of the peer reviews concluded that the deaths had been associated with the use of benefit sanctions.

McVey said it was “wrong” of Abrahams to “politicise” and “inflame” the issue, and refused to answer her question.

We’ll be the judge of that. Was she saying the government has something to hide?

Let us all await the civil servant’s report with interest.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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War of words over work programme

workprogramme
The Department for Work and Pensions seems to love pushing the public around, but has a real problem when the public pushes back.

Don’t these people understand that they are civil servants?

The system of government is described as a mechanism by which the public elects members of Parliament to serve the interests of the majority, and MPs in turn are supported by the civil service, which is constituted to ensure that those interests are promoted and safeguarded in a practical and legal way.

When MPs get it wrong – as they clearly have in the case of mandatory work activity (MWA) – and the public makes its wishes known, it is not the place of the civil servants to subject those people to derision or to describe them in derogatory terms – even when the harshest language is used to describe the scheme.

That is free speech.

Having looked at the Sue Ryder Facebook page, I have to admit that the charity has a point when it describes “recent online lobbying using strong and emotive language” as the reason it has chosen to quit the scheme.

However I would dispute that it is withdrawing to protect staff from an online campaign of harassment, and I would want to see proof that the claims made about its volunteering practices – with regard to people on mandatory work activity – were misleading.

The simple fact is, the scheme is morally repugnant to the majority of people in this country and Sue Ryder should never have taken part in it. If the charity had stayed away, it would not have exposed itself to criticism.

Behind this lies another simple fact: Any flak taken by Sue Ryder is merely incidental to the escalating war of words between an unrepentant Department for Work and Pensions and an increasingly-embittered British Public.

This is a dialogue that has been running for many years now. It started reasonably enough but the intractability of the government department (civil servants, remember) and the misleading propaganda it purveys has provoked campaigners to increasingly strong reactions.

So perhaps Sue Ryder should put the blame where it belongs – with the Department for Work and Pensions.

The DWP is quoted by the Guardian as saying it was “deeply regrettable that a small number of people have targeted charities and subjected them to intimidation and abuse in an effort to disrupt the operation of this scheme”.

This statement is factually correct. Only a small number of people have subjected charities to intimidation and abuse.

The vast majority – and they number in the tens of thousands at the very least – have been polite. They have put their objections in writing, making reasonable arguments against mandatory work activity.

But they don’t get a mention in the DWP’s slanted appraisal of the situation.

So you see, it is the DWP’s language that is provoking and escalating hostilities. Until that organisation wakes up and remembers that it is an organ of the public will, accepts the majority view that Workfare/MWA is entirely abominable and agrees to put an end to it, the only option open to the rest of us is to find increasingly more strident terms in which to raise our objection.

My own opinion is that this goes back to the general election of 2010. Remember at the top of this article, where I said the mechanism of government is based on the principle that the public elects MPs to represent the will of the majority? In 2010, that didn’t happen.

No political party gained a majority of the vote. The Conservatives wormed their way into office by making a deal with a party that got far fewer votes than even they did. As a result, we are seeing minority-interest policies being forced upon the masses by a minority-interest party that should never have got back into government.

The only way to protest against its policies is to argue against them and to boycott those organisations that support them, and if a government department like the DWP is willing to combat this reasonable behaviour with propaganda then it must expect a savage backlash.

And so must Sue Ryder.

So let’s not have any more whining.

Conspiracy of self-interest: Gove attacks public services to boost Tory (and private) coffers

epetitiongoveHow blatant do you want your corruption today?

Education secretary Michael Gove has appointed a partner in a global management consultancy that could bid for government contracts to sit alongside two Conservative Party donors on a committee that will oversee the progress of cuts in his department.

Paul Rogers is a managing partner at Bain & Company, a US firm that could bid for contracts that are outsourced on his recommendation – creating a serious potential conflict of interest.

John Nash and his wife have given nearly £300,000 to the Conservative Party since 2006. The private equity firm he co-founded, Sovereign Capital, once owned British private schools firm Alpha Plus and special needs school operator Senad. Although no longer directly linked to Sovereign, Nash has also invested in academies, private healthcare and care homes. He has already been rewarded for his contribution, with a peerage and a job as an education minister.

Theodore Agnew is a trustee of the New Schools Network, a group run by some of Mr Gove’s closest aides, that helped start his ‘free schools’ project.

The appointments appear to be a clear indication that UK government decisions are now made on the basis of financial gain, rather than the interests of the nation.

The committee they will join is to oversee cuts that will halve the DfE’s administration, with 1,000 job losses and the closure of six regional offices. Almost one-third of remaining staff will switch between teams working on time-limited projects.

The changes have created an atmosphere of disillusionment across Whitehall, with two-thirds of Britain’s most senior civil servants now so demoralised that they are considering quitting public service, according to a survey by the FDA union.

In other words, Gove is attacking our public services on several different fronts.

He is inflicting heavy damage on his own department’s ability to operate properly – does anyone really think expertise can be nurtured in people when they have to hop from one project to another, with deadlines hanging over them all the while?

His attack on civil service morale could create a vacuum where there is currently a large pool of expertise. How will our public services function if everybody who knows how they work has walked away in despair?

And his appointment of people with a clear financial interest in the outsourcing of Education Department responsibilities to the committee responsible for cutting it down to size makes it clear that he is trying to turn our children’s future into a fat little earner for his friends.

It is exactly what my #CleanHouseOfCommons e-petition is about. There should be a law against this.

Gove should not be allowed to give government jobs to Conservative Party donors. The decision seems clearly motivated by financial gain.

Gove should not be allowed to give a government job to a member of a firm that could benefit from his decisions. This is practically an incitement to make corrupt decisions for financial gain.

And he should not be allowed to make decisions that could weaken the British civil service. This could lead to mass outsourcing into the private sector – at huge expense – where no such move should be necessary.

The man is a disgrace to Parliament and an embarrassment to the UK.

But he’ll carry on doing exactly what he wants until YOU tell him to stop.

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/44971

Sign.

Spread the word.

Raise awareness.

Before it’s too late.