Count me out of the subtle indoctrination sessions and the brainwashing, I prefer to think for myself, writes MP Andrew Bridgen in his exclusive column, Politics Across the Pond.
It has been recently widely reported that thousands of civil servants have been sent at considerable cost to the taxpayer on courses to address “unconscious bias”, but what should be even more concerning than the subtle brainwashing of Whitehall mandarins is the fact that elected Members of Parliament are being put under pressure to attend such courses.
To be elected as a Member of Parliament you don’t need a lot of qualifications or have attended University. Candidates standing for election don’t generally present their full CV to their electorate and even if they did I doubt many would read it in full. The only qualification needed for election to the Mother of all Parliaments is a simple one, the most votes cast for any of the candidates standing at the election.
This simple system has served us well and fulfills the old adage that the electorate gets the representatives they deserve or at least the one with the majority of the votes.
It does however sometimes cause problems as the successful candidate is given control of various budgets of not inconsiderable sums to deliver the services which the constituents expect and are entitled. Annual staffing and office accounts run to hundreds of thousands of pounds per year and not every newly elected member will have had the experience of either managing such sums or acting as an employer and managing what is effectively a small business.
For me, as someone who had set up a business with a handful of employees and built it up over a couple of decades into an award-winning medium-size business turning over 25 million and providing employment for 250 people, it was not such a challenge. However, not all elected members will or should have the same life experiences as me. I suggested to the House authorities that they should offer some courses in personnel management, budgeting, and employment law to help those who need it to get them skilled up to be an effective and efficient Representative of the people and ensure they are at least aware the responsibilities of being an employer, which ironically have been put in place over many years by the institution they have just become a member of.
I was shocked at the training course which was offered as a result, which was a two-hour course called “ Valuing people”, which appears to be aimed at urging members not to bully their staff. One attendee told me that he asked for permission to leave the training room for a minute for a necessary visit to the bathroom and he was told that it was not allowed as he had to attend for the full presentation or he would not be judged as having received the training, needless to say, my colleague did not himself “feel valued” at this response from the trainer.
I had a helpful message from the Government whips office a few weeks ago informing me that the left-wing press were enquiring as to who had not attended the “valuing people” course and as they observed that I was one of those, they would be happy to help me by booking me into the next available session, thus neutralizing any “adverse or negative” publicity my non-attendance might otherwise generate. I informed the helpful Whip that I had already been contacted by the journalist in question and had responded that I would not be signing up for the course because I did not think it was a good use of my time and that in 10 years as an elected Member of Parliament I had never had a member of my staff leave or even make a complaint.
It now appears that the pressure to attend courses aimed at addressing other deficiencies in the representatives sent to our Parliament by the people is increasing, both within Parliament itself and from the ultra-woke media. The courses offered to the civil service are now being pushed at elected Members. Of course, Keir Starmer, the current leader of the Labour Party has proudly announced that all Labour MPs will attend the “ unconscious bias” training course. I think this says a lot about Keir Starmer and his confidence in his own Parliamentary Party.
I for one will not be attending this course, I have been elected to represent my home constituency in North West Leicestershire at four elections, each time with a bigger vote, a bigger share of the vote, and a bigger majority in part because of my views and my opinions.
My electorate has not voted and is unaware of the views and opinions of the person taking the training course and when you study their website it is very concerning. They claim to achieve behavioral changes in their attendees by subtly getting them to question their own beliefs and actions. This is very dangerous in an elected democracy where the electorate must always get the representative they voted for, for better or worse and of course, the people always have the option to change their mind and vote for someone else at subsequent polls.
In the meantime count me out of the subtle indoctrination sessions and the brainwashing, I prefer to think for myself and always act in what I believe is the best interests of my constituents and the country, and ultimately I will only answer to them. It’s called democracy and while it’s not perfect, it’s the best system available.