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Whitehall officials accused of wasting time on 'woke projects' - by Steven Edginton 30.07.22

Readers of a nervous disposition are advised to take a deep breath and count to ten before proceeding.

In a follow-up article to his ‘bonfire of the quangos’, Telegraph journalist Steven Edginton exposes the extent to which ‘woke’ is now being actively promoted at by senior officials at every level of the Civil Service.

“Permanent secretaries at half a dozen government departments are working to promote issues such as race, gender, age and LGBT rights, on top of their official duties advising ministers and running their departments.

Each of them is paid a basic salary of between £170,000 and £200,000, and are not paid any extra to be so-called champions.

The Cabinet Office refuses to say how much of their work time is spent on championing their various causes, but a spokesman insisted the roles formed "only an extremely small part" of their jobs.

The permanent secretaries include:

  • Antonia Romeo, the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Justice, who is also gender champion;

  • Matthew Rycroft, at the Home Office, who is race, faith, and belief champion;

  • Alex Chisholm, head of the Cabinet Office, who is champion for age, carers and culture;

  • Sarah Healey, from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), who is disability champion;

  • Jim Harra, the first permanent secretary and chief executive of HMRC, who is LGBT+ champion;

  • Bernadette Kelly, at the Department for Transport, who is social mobility champion.”

As James Roberts, political director of the Tax Payers Alliance said:

"Politicians decide policy, so there is little need for top mandarins to be sermonising on social justice.

"Well-paid officials should focus on their day jobs and improving services for struggling taxpayers."

Antonia Romeo, permanent secretary at the Department of Justice, has been instrumental in promoting this agenda:

Earlier this year, Ms Romeo wrote a blog to officials entitled 'Breaking the menopause taboo in the Civil Service', where she urged colleagues "to set the standard in our approach to inclusion" and touted the "Cross-Government Menopause Network".

During her time at the MoJ, civil servants have complained of being bombarded with woke HR notes.

In May, justice officials were sent a message from a jury officer at York Crown Court about Lesbian Visibility Week, lamenting the lack of "meaningful lesbian visibility" among senior officials, "successful celebrities" or in "media portrayal[s] where we actually have a happy ending".

Other officials are equally culpable:

"Matthew Rycroft, the race, faith and belief champion, has come under pressure over initiatives pushing contested ideology within the Home Office.

In his champion role, Mr Rycroft has attended several events discussing race and faith issues, tweeting in October: "Proud to be @CivilService Race Champion + looking forward to taking part in events to promote equality + diversity in all we do."

In April, the Free Speech Union wrote to the permanent secretary raising concerns over a memo telling staff to put their pronouns in their email signatures. The note told civil servants to copy a "standard" email signature, which included space to add pronouns.”

On certain issues he said it was up to the Civil Service itself to determine policy:

“In a Zoom meeting with civil servants in May 2021, Mr Rycroft caused controversy by saying bureaucrats should accept government policy "on some issues", but on others "it's for us... to be stewards".

It appears to have spread to all areas:

This includes opening gender-neutral toilets for trans and non-binary staff in the Department for International Trade, working closely with the trans activist charity Stonewall, and consistently emailing staff about events such as Transgender Awareness Week and Non-Binary Awareness Week.”

It is often said that government should try to do less and do it better. The same could be said of the Civil Service.

The enclosed report which can be read below is a timely reminder of the extent to which the virus has infected the host. A link to the original can also be read here:

Article for the Telegraph by Steven Edginton - Senior Whitehall officials accused of wasti
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Daily Telegraph

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