Dave Penman, the leader of the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, told the Today programme this morning that Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy PM, should not be commenting on the inquiry into the bully allegations about him. He said:
What we need is for this inquiry to conclude as quickly as possible and for the protagonist in it, who has been reminded about confidentiality, to stop giving comments to the public.
This demonstrates ably the issue of why the prime minister should have suspended Dominic Raab because, while these allegations are hanging over him, he is still serving as a minister, there are still concerns about someone who conducts themselves potentially in that way still being in charge of civil servants.
Asked if it was right for someone to be prevented from being a minister just because they were “difficult” to work with, Penman pointed out that bullying was against the ministerial code. And he said:
What you have to remember here is bullies are not good managers.
Bullies are ineffective. What you end up with is good people leaving – it is not actually a way to get people to work.
Here is my colleague Safi Bugel’s story about Labour holding West Lancashire in the byelection yesterday.
It was a safe Labour seat, and there was no realistic prospect of the party losing, which is why it did not receive much attention.
Here are the full results, from PA Media.
Ashley Dalton (Labour) 14,068 (62.30%, +10.16%)
Mike Prendergast (Conservative) 5,742 (25.43%, -10.88%)
Jonathan Kay (Reform UK) 997 (4.42%)
Jo Barton (Liberal Democrat) 918 (4.07%, -0.80%)
Peter Cranie (Green) 646 (2.86%, +0.49%)
Howling Laud Hope (Official Monster Raving Loony Party) 210 (0.93%)
Labour majority 8,326 (36.87%)
10.52% swing Conservative to Labour
Turnout 22,581 (31.27%, -40.53%)
2019: Lab maj 8,336 (15.83%) – Turnout 52,663 (71.80%)
Cooper (Lab) 27,458 (52.14%); Gilmore (C) 19,122 (36.31%); Thomson
(LD) 2,560 (4.86%); Stanton (Brexit) 2,275 (4.32%); Puddifer (Green)
The key figure here is the 10.5% swing to Labour. This is very healthy, and certainly good enough to produce a majority for Keir Starmer’s party at a general election. But it is not as big as the swing to Labour suggested by polling. In 2019, the Tories got 44.7% of the GB vote, and Labour 33%. The latest Politico poll of polls has Labour on 48% and the Tories on 26% – implying a swing of 16.8%.
This is the third byelection in a row that has seen Labour hold a safe seat. In the City of Chester byelection in December last year, Labour won with a swing of 13.5% from the Conservatives. And in the Stretford and Urmston byelection (also in December last year) Labour won with a 10% swing from the Tories.
Good morning. Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy prime minister, has repeatedly denied the multiple allegations – now the subject of an inquiry – that he has bullied officials in the three government departments that he has led, but generally he has issued denials through a spokesperson. Now, though, he has gone on the record himself, with two denials that set out his case with a bit more clarity.
Earlier this week, Newsnight broadcast a report based on an interview with an unnamed former senior civil servant who had worked with Raab. The official, who has not submitted a formal complaint, described Raab as “nasty and difficult” and gave examples of why his conduct could be seen as “bullying”.
Raab has responded to that. In an interview with the BBC, he said:
I’m not going to comment on anonymous reports in the media – my experience is that they are mostly incorrect. I’m confident I have behaved professionally at all times.
“Behaved professionally” is the line that Raab’s spokesperson has used since these allegations first surfaced, but this answer suggests that Raab believes people may discount allegations made anonymously.
Raab has also given an interview to the Daily Telegraph (primarily to discuss drug policy in prisons) and that was more revealing. Asked if he was confident that he would still be in post in the summer, Raab did not give a firm yes. Instead he replied:
I’m confident I have behaved professionally at all times. And I will engage with the inquiry, and of course I would not want to say anything that prejudiced it.
Raab was then asked if he was more robust than, say, Margaret Thatcher. He replied:
I think it’s difficult to compare different eras. But I think standards of professionalism, whether they’re in the business sector, the voluntary sector or the public sector, should involve setting high standards and zero bullying, and those two things are perfectly reconcilable.
(That was an odd question. Thatcher was famously robust with colleagues, and quite intimidating if they did not know their brief, but no one ever accused her of bullying officials.)
In his response, Raab seems to be accepting that he was demanding. But he is saying that setting high standards is not the same as bullying.
Dave Penman, the leader of the FDA union that represents senior civil servants, has been commenting on Raab’s interview. I will post what he said shortly, and any other reaction.
The Commons is in recess, and there is not much in the diary for today. But I will be covering reaction to last night’s byelection, and reporting some of the political reaction to the growth figures, although the main coverage of that is on our business live blog.
I’ll try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.
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