Clash Over Civil Service’s Woke Guest Vetting

Last night Guido’s editor appeared on Newsnight to discuss our ongoing campaign to stop the civil service inviting sorcerers and obsessives to give lectures to staff during working hours. Up against the Times columnist Edward Lucas, who had yesterday morning complained about our influence in his column, referencing us no less than three times.  Our public service journalism getting credit for kicking the government into action… 

Newsnight’s Kirst Wark asked about the ramifications of expecting some basic due diligence by Whitehall mandarins:

“You’ve called these out, in a sense by calling attention to them, haven’t you ramped up the government’s antennae… to look for anything as some kind of problem?”

As Guido pointed out, over a matter of months, civil servants were being invited to lessons in crystal healing, Q&As with witches, and lectures from Green socialists. It was clearly egregious and worth reporting. Lucas suggested perhaps the social media accounts of those uninvited in the future could be of impersonators. This has never been the case for any of the subjects of Guido’s stories. If it was, we would have corrected our reporting.

The guidance was intended to clamp down on informal Civil Service Diversity Networks inviting cranks and extremists to lecture them in working hours at the taxpayers’ expense – when they could perhaps have been doing what they are paid to do. Despite the guidance blocking actual witches, it is not intended to be a witch hunt for experts who don’t take the government’s line on everything. 

Ultimately, there needs to be some common sense thinking when sending out these invitations. The last two years or so have shown that’s been sorely lacking… 

mdi-timer 23 May 2023 @ 09:40 23 May 2023 @ 09:40 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Policy Victory: Cabinet Office Blocking Loony Civil Service External Speakers

Ed Lucas has a new piece in The Times this morning complaining about the Cabinet Office’s “positively Soviet” vetting process for civil service guest speakers. According to Lucas, ever since then-Cabinet Office minister Jacob Rees-Mogg introduced the policy of scanning the social media profiles of potential speakers last Summer, “respected guest speakers are being barred from Whitehall”.  Apparently Lucas’s own friend failed vetting and was met with this explanation:

 “Rules introduced by the Cabinet Office in 2022 specify that the social media accounts of potential speakers must be vetted . . . to check whether these people have ever criticised government officials or government policy. The vetting process is impartial and purely evidence-based. The check on your social media has identified material that criticises government officials and policy. It is for this reason . . . that I am afraid that we have no choice and must cancel your invitation.”

Lucas, who is standing as a candidate for the LibDems, admits his friend volunteers “at a local Anglican church and votes Liberal Democrat” – two red flags for a start. Given how Whitehall had a history of inviting in witches, Green socialists and hard-left academics before these rules, Guido’s not so sure of the friend’s likely suitability. In fact, Guido claims Rees-Mogg’s vetting policy as our own campaign victory. There are dozens of stories in our archives reporting on the kind of topics Civil Servants love to be lectured on during working hours: everything from white awareness to the healing properties of crystals. All at the taxpayer’s expense…

Cabinet Office sources told Guido this morning that”some due diligence” has to take place to stop this nonsense happening again, pointing out they “wouldn’t want to invite people who have expressed antisemitic views for example“. Labour’s “former choice for Home Secretary probably wouldn’t get a call up”, they added…

mdi-timer 24 April 2023 @ 11:53 24 Apr 2023 @ 11:53 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Sky’s Ukraine Expert is LibDem Parliamentary Candidate

Last night, Sky News repeatedly aired a special report on the Ukraine crisis. One of the talking heads on the programme, Edward Lucas, introduced as “Senior Fellow, Centre for European Analysis”, offered a pretty pessimistic view of the government’s response – and clearly didn’t think much of the Foreign Secretary. Here’s what Lucas said:

“Sending tanks to Estonia improves the defence of the Baltic states somewhat, although not hugely […]  but while London continues to be the money laundering haven for kleptocratic regimes in Russia and elsewhere, no one is going to take Liz Truss very seriously.”

What Sky News forgot to mention about Lucas is he’s currently running as the LibDem candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster seat at the next election. He’s also repeatedly described himself as a “life long LibDem” and a party “diehard”. Years ago, he was even a bag carrier for Paddy Ashdown.

As ever, Lucas is well within his rights to hold those views, and his columns on Putin are often on the money. Sky News is entitled to broadcast them. It is nonetheless incumbent upon broadcasters to identify his political affiliations before he waxes lyrical on government incompetence. His dim view of Liz Truss is unlikely to be entirely a product of neutral political analysis, especially given that he could be on the campaign stump against her government in a year or two…

mdi-timer 31 January 2022 @ 13:32 31 Jan 2022 @ 13:32 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Standpoint’s Latest Editor Out after Six Months

Ed Lucas is out as editor of Standpoint after just six months in the role. The former Economist journalist and Paddy Ashdown bag carrier was a surprising choice to edit the conservative-leaning magazine. He was appointed after Standpoint staff announced they were jumping ship to the newly launched magazine The Critic…

Simon Green, the Chairman of the Trustees of the Social Affairs Unit which owns and funds Standpoint, has now been through three editors in fifteen months. Guido hears that after Lucas was appointed by temperamental Green, there was a falling out. Left editorless, there’s talk that the twelve year old magazine might not publish a May issue…

mdi-timer 3 April 2020 @ 15:57 3 Apr 2020 @ 15:57 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments