Yesterday: all-staff BIS meeting in Westminster Hall. The heads of the CBI and TUC gave talks, and so did Vince Cable. Oh, and also that Jiminy Cricket lookalike Permanent Secretary of ours, Martin Donnelly. Clearly basking in the nice things the others had said about BIS, he waxed on about how great the team working is in his department. He said he would continue his promise (not sure any of us knew he'd made one) that every member of his staff will be respected, treated professionally and listened to.
At times like that, I believe myBIS must exist in a parallel universe. In the meeting I had with Samantha later (to discuss my future) I told her that I did not feel respected, was not being treated professionally and was not being listened to. She dutifully logged this in her notebook.
Today, myself and Frank my union guy, had our first meeting with Jen Davies, the case officer in my complaint against John and Barbara. We met in a tiny, sweaty room with thin walls, surrounded by other meetings which could easily hear us if they wished to.
Jen introduced herself, and said she'd been commissioned by Samantha. Frank and I protested at this, i.e. because Samantha is Barbara's line manager, and Barbara is John's, and there is therefore just the small chance that such an appointment might not be as neutral as it should be. [In retrospect, we should have refused to go on with the case until a case officer was appointed that both sides could agree was neutral. However, the civil service is very good at selling you a dummy early on in the process, when you don't want to cause too much aggro because you want your case to stand a fair chance. Of course, the government did the same thing with the Grenfell Inquiry - chose the case officer who immediately established limiting terms of reference.]
I asked what might be the outcomes of the case and Jen said that Susannah would make the final decisions! We protested even more at this, pointing out that Susannah is B's line manager, etc. Jen said she'd look into it but we might as well start. [Again, with hindsight we should have refused to move on until this point was settled.]
In short, I only got through half my story in the allotted hour, and we had to agree to reconvene. At the end, I repeated that Samantha should not be making the decision, and if she did, I'd drop the case and go straight to the Civil Service Commission.
Back in the union room, Frank reckoned that the Commission would scare the shit out of the Department, especially following on from all those nice things said about it at the all-staff event. I said I was tired of the cock-ups with this case and may just go straight to the Commission anyway. Frank said he'd raise the issue with the union that BIS does not even have a CS Code case officer and no one has a fecking clue how to run a complaint case.
I found out later that, incredibly, Jen continued with (separate) interviews with John and Barbara following my meeting with her. This, despite her not even knowing yet what my case is about! Frank and I decided to keep this one up our sleeves for now, but it perfectly illustrates how utterly inept BIS is at - what was it Donnelly said? - oh yes, listening to its staff.
Someone asked me later how Jen was and I said, not fucking tough enough. She appears to listen (most of the time) but lacks that incorruptible steely glint in the eye. Instead, I see a dark Samantha-shaped silhouette lurking there.
Steve and I had a chat tonight. He mentioned that Jo Swinson has lost her seat and commented that this had a karmic inevitability to it, after how she'd handled the Furniture Regs. At first glance, I tend to dismiss such views but now, in light of my case at BIS, it may need to be looked at with a more open mind.
Steve mentioned Swinson's round table meeting back in February, something he's (rightly) still irritated about. In short:
- Steve and I muzzled
- Toni Eldridge set up for a fall by B and J
- The on-the-make villains given freedom to lie their flame-retardant pants off
- John playing toady both to them and the Minister
- Swinson, for whatever reason, choosing darker motives over true ones
On the surface, the dark side won. Steve's and my position - built on intelligence, hard work and integrity - was rubbished. I can see now that my tendency in such situations is to seek a re-balance, in this case via the correct channels - complaint case, etc - rather than to allow myself to think about taking revenge.
But . . .
In terms of the power of the mind, ours are in fact far more powerful than theirs. Which raises the question of what then should be done with it? In other words, it's a responsibility, not an option.
In say five years time, we will see what karma has done to the likes of Barbara, John, Dave Sibert, Paul Fuller, David King, etc. What we may not ever know is how much was down purely to natural karmic anti-thesis. When, say, I make a strong case for public safety, based on facts and moral expediency, and Barbara blocks it, how does she deal with the power of the mind that she is perverting? What does it do to her?
I need to fully realise that I have the power. And that power stems from being right, both technically and morally. This may mean that I need a dual approach from now on:
- Outer calm. No need to be drawn into over-reacting or being argumentative.
- Inner reliance of the power that I hold, that they are utterly bereft of.
Yesterday Samantha had a branch meeting which she based around 'change', specifically the government changes that will stem from the forthcoming election. She told a story about when she was at DWP: how she'd had to cut lots of posts but felt that people wouldn't accuse her of protecting her job because that was being cut anyway. Translation: we all know more cuts are coming so I'm getting it in now that it won't be MY fault.
Which reminded me of the time when she (unconvincingly) told me that she'd played no part in any of our end-year box markings (when John gave me the lowest box marking). All of which demonstrates that despite her education, self-control, excellent enunciation, etc, she lacks power. I have far more power than her, even if she ruins my career.
I have more power than Martin Donnelly. Why? Because he said he was continuing his promise that every single person in BIS will be treated with respect and listened to when it isn't true and he knows it isn't true.