The Attorney General today launches a fightback against woke ‘witch trials’.
Suella Braverman brands the diversity industry a ‘new religion’ in which zealots seek to punish unbelievers while others are too scared to speak out.
In an article for the Daily Mail, she reveals she has scrapped equality training in her department after learning that staff had spent almost 2,000 hours on the courses last year.
They were being given lectures on ‘micro-incivilities’ and ‘how to be a straight ally’.
Mrs Braverman, who stood for the Tory leadership last month, says it is ‘downright dangerous’ for Whitehall lawyers to be taught they cannot challenge anyone who says they have been offended by a particular phrase.
‘This does nothing to create solidarity and support but rather keeps emphasising difference, creating a sense of “other” and pitting different groups against each other,’ she writes.
Attorney General Suella Braverman, 42, says she has cancelled equality training in her department after discovering her staff had spent 2,000 hours in Stonewall lectures
Ms Braverman warned against the dangers of diversity zealots – using the example of Maya Forstater, who won an employment tribunal case last month over her ‘gender-critical’ views
Her forthright comments come amid growing concern over the influence of Left-wing identity politics – particularly in the public sector – and the intolerance shown to those challenging the new orthodoxy.
Mrs Braverman cites Maya Forstater, who won an employment tribunal case last month over her ‘gender-critical’ views, asking: ‘How did we get to the place where stating the facts of biology can get you sacked?’
In another legal ruling last week, barrister Allison Bailey was found to have been discriminated against by her legal chambers after she commented online about ‘trans extremism’.
Meanwhile, police continue to question and even arrest people for supposedly causing offence and anxiety through their social media posts and major organisations including the Bank of England remain signed up to lobby group Stonewall’s diversity champions scheme despite ministers speaking out against it.
The Attorney General praises the efforts of Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss in trying to turn the tide after she branded ‘unconscious bias’ training a waste of time and pledged to ditch diversity roles in the public sector.
Mrs Braverman writes: ‘In government, I’ve seen her working hard to fight this pernicious identity politics, which is stifling our potential just as surely as the high tax burden. I’m especially glad she’s committed to scrapping diversity jobs across Whitehall. Britain needs a lot of things but it certainly doesn’t need woke commissars policing our thoughts.’
Just last month the Attorney General ordered officials in the Government Legal Department, which employed 2,769 people in 2021-22, to tell her what diversity training was being carried out.
She was furious to discover that 1,900 hours of courses had taken place – much of it carried out by external, paid-for consultants – teaching the ‘Left-wing view on race, gender and sexuality’ to staff including 600 lawyers. In one lecture, employees were told: ‘Not being racist isn’t enough, we must be anti-racist.’
1,900 hours of woke lessons for lawyers
Woke courses attended by hundreds of government lawyers last year included lessons on how to be an ‘ally’ to minority groups.
In one presentation they were told they must ‘take on the struggle of others as your own’ and to ‘recognise your privilege and transfer the benefits of it to others who lack it’.
The civil servants were urged to ‘be aware of your implicit biases’ and find a way to ‘acknowledge how you participate in oppressive systems’.
Staff were also given training on ‘unconscious bias’, even though ministers ordered the practice to stop back in 2020. One handout asked officials to consider ‘who you say hello to in the mornings’, warning that their attitudes and stereotypes ‘can affect every area of your work if you’re not careful’.
The 600 lawyers from the Government Legal Department who had 1,900 hours of diversity training last year were also taught about ‘micro-incivilities’. These are defined as activities that signal to someone from a minority group that they are not welcome, including not acknowledging their contribution to a discussion.
A slide said that if a black person tells you that a phrase is offensive to them then it is and added: ‘It is not up to you as a white person to tell them that it’s not. Instead, educate yourself as to why the phrase is offensive and stop using it.’
In a session on being an ally to LGBT people the civil servants were urged to ‘recognise your privilege and transfer the benefits of it to others who lack it’.
Mrs Braverman, who is the Government’s chief legal adviser, is said to have been ‘absolutely furious’ that taxpayers’ money was ‘wasted’ on the instruction ‘when it could have been spent on more lawyers or literally anything else more useful’.
After telling her officials to scrap the training, she is urging other ministers to scrutinise the courses taking place in their departments.
‘We really must get serious about taking on this divisive mindset and call it out: a new religion with a new priestly caste,’ she writes today.
The Attorney General compares diversity ‘zealots’ to ‘the witch-finders of the Middle Ages’.
She says some believe in the cause and ‘don the outfit of the inquisitor and never tire of rooting out unbelievers’ but others simply ‘wear the priestly clothes to ward off their rivals’ or ‘nod along and recite the creed because they are too scared to dissent’.
Mrs Braverman concludes: ‘We need to worry less about what people say on Twitter, and more about ensuring passports arrive on time, GP appointments are available when needed, and the police turn up when you’ve been burgled.’
It emerged yesterday that another major Whitehall ministry has told senior officials to hold ‘race ally’ discussions in team meetings.
An email sent to staff at the Department for Work and Pensions from its Bame Inclusion Group, leaked to the Guido Fawkes website, states: ‘It is too easy to think that personally you are not affected by racism, so it is not your problem, or that because you are not a racist person then you are doing enough. What you can do is be an ally. Not just a race ally, but an ally for all who may need your support.’
The note also reminds civil servants ‘there is a pronoun sheet with your names so please do not forget to go in and include how you would like to be called and how you pronounce your name’.
Cabinet Office minister Jacob Rees-Mogg hit out at the ‘woke rubbish’ being taught to officials this week, telling LBC radio he had discovered one course called Check Yo Privilege, while another ‘offered to tell people about witchcraft’.
A training video on the Department for Levelling Up’s website tells civil servants to acknowledge they ‘are part of a society, norm, culture or a system that is racist’.
SUELLA BRAVERMAN: Diversity zealots have created a dangerous new religion – we must get serious about taking them on
By Suella Braverman For The Daily Mail
It is all too easy to view the past through the prism of the present and then use the new orthodoxy to settle old scores. Today that orthodoxy is called ‘Diversity, Equality and Inclusion’.
The new ‘DEI’ sector came about as a by-product of the rights culture created by a combination of New Labour’s Human Rights Act and the Equality Act.
The plight of women like Maya Forstater, who lost her job after tweeting that transgender women could not change their biological sex, are all part of this long tail of Blairism.
Her legal fight ultimately ended in a triumph for common sense and freedom of speech. But how did we get to a point where stating the facts of biology could get you sacked?
Whenever ministers point out these problems, people – quite rightly – ask: ‘What are you doing about it?’.
Attorney General Suella Braverman, 42, was knocked out of the Conservative leadership race on July 14
And so, as the Attorney General, I ordered my officials to brief me on the diversity training going on in the Government Legal Department.
I was horrified to discover that hundreds of government lawyers spent nearly 2,000 hours of their taxpayer-funded time last year attending lectures on ‘micro-incivilities’, different ‘lived experiences’ and ‘how to be a straight ally’, courtesy of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights charity Stonewall.
The experts on ‘white privilege’ who shared their insights were cited as authoritative but they all subscribed to the left-wing view on race, gender and sexuality which permeated their training materials.
I’d encourage other ministers to ask to see their departments’ diversity programmes and scrutinise the value for money they offer. After all, the ‘diversity’ agenda thrives in darkness.
Government lawyers are told that if a black person says something is offensive, then it is offensive, and they don’t have a right to question it. How does that fit with the rule of law, or due process?
This kind of thinking is harmful in other departments, but in legal cases it’s downright dangerous. It does nothing to create solidarity and encourage support but rather keeps emphasising difference, creates a sense of ‘otherness’ and pits different groups against each other.
Well, I’ve told my officials to scrap it. We really must get serious about taking on this divisive mindset and call it out for what it is: a new religion with a new priestly caste.
Some zealots believe in it. Like the witch-finders of the Middle Ages, they don the outfit of the inquisitor and never tire of rooting out unbelievers. Others wear the priestly robes to ward off their rivals, while still others nod along and recite the creed because they are too scared to dissent.
None of these approaches are acceptable in modern Britain. I’m all for building an inclusive workplace which is meritocratic and welcoming, but to focus relentlessly on dividing us into different cohorts rather than on building camaraderie based on unifying values is misguided.
This is something Liz Truss has been very good on. She told the Tory conference that we ‘reject the zero-sum game of identity politics, we reject the illiberalism of cancel-culture, and we reject the soft bigotry of low expectations’.
That’s the kind of Conservative Party I want to be a member of. It’s the kind of Britain that I believe in.
In government, I’ve seen her working hard to fight this pernicious identity politics, which is stifling our potential just as surely as the high tax burden. I’m especially glad she’s committed to scrapping diversity jobs across Whitehall.
Britain needs a lot of things but it certainly doesn’t need woke commissars policing our thoughts. We need to worry less about what people say on Twitter, and more about ensuring passports arrive on time, GP appointments are available when needed, and the police turn up when you’ve been burgled.
Diversity jobs may have been created with good intentions, but it’s clear they are now part of the problem, not the solution.
Suella Braverman has been the Attorney General for England and Wales since 2020