If the legendary British sitcoms “Yes Minister” and its sequel “Yes, Prime Minister” have taught us anything, it is that the British Civil Service is an institution entirely independent of Her Majesty’s Government, following its own agenda and treating the elected politicians, who, after all, will inevitably be exchanged eventually, but the Civil Service endures forever!
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which is in charge of, among numerous other things, ensuring race equality, has released a training video for civil servants to teach them about the importance of proper conduct when dealing with representatives of minority communities.
Specifically, it reminds white civil servants that they should be aware of their “privilege” and urges them to become “allies” by standing up for ethnic minorities.
“When we become an ally, this primarily means acknowledging that we, ourselves, are part of a society, norm, culture or a system that is racist,” the footage states.
According to the training video, white “allies” should offer support, more specifically white people should “listen and not contradict” people representing ethnic minorities.
Now, listening to what someone has to say and not contradicting their feelings and experiences, which may be different from our own on account of different backgrounds is all and well. But is telling civil servants responsible for, among others, building regulations and safety, the right message to send? Clerks should not contradict someone who comes to them on official business, like securing a building permit, because they happen to be several shades pastier than their customers?
The existence of the video has caused consternation in some parts of the government. One government source said civil servants were being “brainwashed” to believe “divisive” nonsense:
“The civil service is running a parallel policy to the Government on diversity and inclusion in the name of social justice,” said the source in Whitehall. “The term white privilege has no place in government. This divisive nonsense is designed to brainwash thousands of civil servants with an ideological agenda.”
The first and the current (second) Boris Johnson cabinet had representatives of minorities in it, including people of South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Sub-Saharan African heritage. One of them, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is currently contesting the leadership of the Conservative Party.
But perhaps if the Civil Service thinks that it needs such a training video, then perhaps the Civil Service DOES have a problem with race. Maybe just not the kind of problem they think…
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