At the rainbow’s end

by Rick Johansen

When you go to work these days, you wear a lanyard, at the end of which is often a photo of yourself and your name. It can include a smart card to enable you to get through a security door. It’s part of the uniform. I’ve worn all kinds of lanyards, ranging from Thatcher’s Cider to the NHS ‘rainbow’ design. It is a totally non-controversial thing to wear, except that the Minister for Common Sense, the idiot otherwise known as Esther McVey, has banned the ‘rainbow’ design. It’s part of her ‘war on woke’.

Apparently, the rainbow lanyard is symbolic of “left-wing bias” in the civil service and McVey is going to war with ‘backdoor politicisation”. Well, let’s call it out for what it is. McVey is seeking to divide us all with what are simply culture wars. It is about nothing else.

When I worked as a civil servant, I parked my politics at the door when I started work. I knew what I was at work to do, which was to serve the taxpayer and provide us – I am a taxpayer, too – with a professional, high quality vital public service. Like pretty well all the people I worked with nearly 40 years, there was no politics in anything we did.

McVey wants, for the purpose of stirring up division, to “stop the inappropriate backdoor politicisation of the civil service which diverts time and resources from that focus on the public,” something that simply isn’t happening. She adds:”We have too often seen them distracted by fashionable hobbyhorses, especially when it comes to issues like equality and diversity.” And on she goes, reeling off lie after lie.

Sure, there is a limited amount of equality and diversity training – and I really mean limited: it’s not something your average civil servant comes across on a daily, or even an annual basis – but that’s generally a good thing in a society where it is desirable for everyone to be aware of the law and their responsibilities. It is not some kind of brainwashing exercise.

I know about these things because, many years ago in my trade union life, I wrote, designed and hosted equal opportunity courses. I attended courses too and learned pretty well everything I know today about equality and diversity. I met and worked with incredible people, like members of the African National Congress (ANC) and the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM). There was no negative side to it. In learning more about equality, I was able to cut off my rough edges. I became a better person. That’s my story, explained in just a few words. McVey’s story is much simpler.

McVey adds this: “Civil servants should not be distracted by issues unrelated to their ultimate role, delivering excellent results for the taxpayer. Networks that were meant to be about inclusivity too often, in fact, brought division and upset into the working environment.” By and large, civil servants are not distracted by “issues unrelated to their ultimate role”. They already deliver “excellent results for the taxpayer”, despite bumbling buffoons like McVey being in charge of government departments. If there is “division and upset (in) the working environment”, and I wager that there isn’t, it will be as a result of the actions of the culture war warriors, like the laughably named Minister for Common Sense, a non-job if ever there was one.

If only there were more important matters for the government to deal with, like the crumbling NHS, the crisis in social care, housing shortages, pot holes, billions of tons of shit being poured into our rivers and seas and chronic levels of poverty, leading to record use of food banks. But those lanyards, eh? It’s good to see this Conservative government has got its priorities right, eh?

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