Let's just say I could have written the meeting note before the meeting. All the whingers sensed their chance and reverted big time to the old (completely unfounded) complaints:
- Not enough evidence
- We want a full review
- Should go through British Standards
John - the only one from BEIS with permission to speak - said absolutely nothing to any of the whinging which was backed up but not one piece of evidence, just a lot of porky pieing. John apparently having forgotten that evidence is what the Minister had asked for. Not that she was exactly threatening Sherlock Holmes' reputation in her examination of the veracity of what was put to her.
A couple of days after the round table, John and Barbara held a 'wash-up' ('bury the facts') meeting with each other, me excluded, and apparently decided that everything was just dandy. Meaning that their backsides are in no need of protecting, for the moment at least. I emailed them to say we need to give the Minister the counter-arguments to the whingers, especially in light of her saying : "Powerful argument" to David King's lies that were prefaced, amazingly, by him saying, "Leaving aside the evidence . . . ". But Barbara replied to say that the Minister was 'shrewd' and would have seen through them, having forgotten, apparently, that only a couple of months ago she was claiming that the Minister was not bright enough to understand the various factors around the new test. I guess one's IQ is directly proportional to the needs of whoever is assessing it.
Yesterday, we received a summons to go see Tracy [Jo Swinson's assistant] at 4.15. John was off somewhere, giving a talk, which may or may not be why Tracy chose that time (Steve and I are convinced she's been brainwashed by John and is in cohoots). Barbara and I go up to find Tracy is in with the Minister . . . and we wait . . . and we wait. Around five o'clock, we leave the waiting room to find Tracy back at her desk having apparently forgotten about us. More power games, no doubt.
We go to a meeting room with her and she gives us what to me was totally predictable feed-back from the Minister. Swinson was 'very pleased' with the meeting and now wants:
1) British Standards to do their 12-month 'fast track' thing (what was that about her shrewdly seeing through the nonsense, B?).
2) Get more evidence - unspecified of course.
3) Get on with the full review.
I try to inject some sanity, in amongst Barbara's simpering agreement. But all I get from Tracy is dagger eyes and little exasperated sighs, as if I've just shat in her handbag. There are several forms of self-brainwashing; she's adopted the superior stance, choosing to see the objector as someone who just doesn't 'get it', without actually ever describing what constitutes 'it' but which I believe is simply 'do not stand in the way of my career path'.
I try: " We already have all the evidence!" and "British Standards is not the correct process!" and "British Standards are going to spend 12 months coming up with a formula we already have!" [Actually, I was wrong about this: in the event, they didn't bother coming up with anything at all.] But all this produces is rolling eyes and condescending sneers in young Trace.
Afterwards, B and I have quite a long conversation. I really do believe she suffers/benefits from a kind of madness that is to do with compartmentalising her brain. Hence, when I say, "Barbara - it's really embarrassing to ask British Standards to spend 12 months on a foam formula that isn't needed and already exists," she says, "We can get some people on to the BS committee who will understand that this is what the Minister wants." Then chooses simply not to hear me reply: "a) it's not our committee, and b) even if it was, you can't ask professional people to spend time and money doing something so pointless." [In this I was proved right when later in the year, after John and Barbara had persuaded British Standards to hold a committee meeting, BS decided in the event to disown the meeting and not even publish a meeting note (unprecedented, I understand) on the grounds that their senior management caught on and ruled that BS has no place in deciding government policy.]
She also told me a 'story' that she said she told Steve too. (Incidentally, another of her delusions is that she's taken to mis-quoting Steve to me in order to back-up her arguments, which tells me that she has no concept of what a real working relationship is like, i.e. I know she's misquoting partly because I know what Steve would and wouldn't say on the new match test and partly because he told me anyway.) Her story is about how brilliant her bothers and sisters were but in different ways (she fixed me with a 'significant' stare at this point and, yes, a Tsunami of irony was heading our way) - Steve and I might be good at explaining our perception of things, she said - at which point I irritated her by interrupting, saying it's not about our perception; it's about evidence and proven scientific reasoning. And before she could get back to her 'story', I turned the screw by using the 'E' word, pointing out that at the Experts meeting she'd called, she had every expert tell her the current test fails and the new one will succeed. What she said to that was truly extraordinary:
"You were studying Phil Reynolds closely - " (Which was not actually true - again, she was exaggerating something I'd said, which was that I'd noticed his floundering reaction when Steve asked the question, "Does everyone agree that the new test is sound?") - "so you didn't hear me say that I didn't. No one heard me say that I didn't understand it." To which I could only reply, "But you're not an expert, Barbara." To which she said: "They didn't explain it to me. I needed more evidence."
I really don't know where to begin in unpicking this amazingly ego-centric 'reasoning' but what in effect I think she's really saying is:
"I didn't want to listen to the unanimous verdict of the experts that I'd invited, and therefore didn't go to the Minister and tell her we were good to go, which in turn would have brought in the changes that would secure the Department's biggest Red Tape challenge project, save industry lots of money and, most important of all, would have stopped people dying horrible deaths - because I decided that I didn't understand them."
Today, Barbara is still all happy-clappy, because she thinks she sees a way out of the corner she's painted herself into. She actually said to me, "You still have the project," the only problem there being that she and John caved into pressure from the villains in denial of our fully-evidenced new test. Which means only two things:
1) They'll cave in in future, too.
2) The villains will be even bolder next time.
She's now agreeing to the Minister's request, that we get the new test in by April 2016 but I'm thinking that there are now a lot of difficult battles to face before that ever happens [and to date, it still hasn't], and we have a totally dysfunctional team to face them with.
I could walk away and may even get a promotion at another job (something Barbara has hinted at) but the problem I have is that these are ghastly, immoral people and they shouldn't be allowed to get away with it. As Steve said to me the other day: integrity is everything. Without it, well, you end up as a Barbara, John or Tracy with all your energy spent on protecting your career and pension, hoping that your brain remains compartmentalised for the rest of your days so you never have to feel any guilt at the suffering caused by your actions, or in the case of John happily counting your loot from a grateful chemical industry.
here to edit.