Unions destroy Esther McVey’s plan to scrap rainbow lanyards and diversity jobs from civil service

'You have to wonder why Esther McVey feels so threatened by a rainbow lanyard that it deserves so much of her time'

Esther McVey

Unions representing workers in the civil service have hit out at Esther McVey’s ‘virtue signalling’ as the so-called ‘Minister for Common Sense’ announced plans to ban rainbow lanyards and diversity jobs.

Speaking at the Tory Centre for Policy Studies, McVey told the audience she wanted “a visible change to occur to the lanyards we use to carry out security passes” as she went on, “working in the civil service is all about leaving your political views at the building entrance”. 

The minister without portfolio also said she will crack down on jobs dedicated to inclusion and diversity, as she described the roles as “woke hobby horses” in her latest “war on woke” in the civil service.

Her supposedly ‘common sense’ proposals been blasted with heavy criticism, with the Tory MP condemned for “playing politics” with civil servant’s livelihoods and well-being, in the name of a “hostile culture war agenda”. 

Speaking to Henry Riley on LBC, the General Secretary of the FDA union, Dave Penman, said: “You have to wonder why Esther McVey feels so threatened by a rainbow lanyard that it deserves so much of her time, when public services are on their knees and government departments are cutting back services.

“Pandering to a narrow, hostile culture war agenda against the civil service will not create “harmony, unity & inclusivity”, it will create division, resentment and anger, but then she knows that.”

Assistant General Secretary of the FDA union, Lucille Thirlby, said the government’s proposals were “extraordinary” as she called the minister out for “virtue signalling” and suggested that the Conservatives spent more time focusing on delivering quality public services. 

“Nobody joins the civil service in order to ‘impose their own political ideology’.. when the country is facing challenges, should the colour of a civil servant’s lanyard really be a ministerial priority?” said Thirlby.

“Equality, diversity and inclusion is a serious topic worthy of serious consideration and debate. Unfortunately, we got nothing of the sort from Esther McVey, who instead rattled off of a tick list of culture-war talking points.”

Fran Heathcote, General Secretary of the PCS union which also represents civil servants, accused McVey of “playing politics with our members’ livelihoods and well-being”.

“Time and again, evidence shows an equal and diverse workforce is a more productive workforce,” Heathcote said. 

“Esther McVey is playing politics with our members’ livelihoods and well-being. She would be better spending her time, and her department’s money, on improving our members’ pay and working conditions.”

Political editor David Osland summed up a mood: “If only Esther McVey was as angry about hungry school children as she is about rainbow lanyards.”

(Image credit: Number 10)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward

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