I’ve experienced both school and workplace bullying, and I have no time for people who behave in such a way. I’ve even called a supportline or two in the past. So don’t take what follows as in any way diminishing the anguish that bullying can cause.
I have two points to make on the current scandal, which involves Christine Pratt, the head of the National Bullying Helpline, going public with claims that staff at Number 10 had called her support line about the Prime Minister’s behaviour.
1. These things are supposed to be confidential. By breaching this, she has made it much harder for people to pluck up the courage to call support lines. Not to mention that I strongly doubt that staff at Downing Street will thank her for damaging the government for which they work. They have been betrayed, and used to score political points.
2. That is, of course, assuming that these staff even exist. How does she actually know that the people that called really worked at Number 10? She obviously does not run background checks on people who call, so what is stopping random idiots, and/or the Tory dirty tricks department, calling in and making all sorts of outrageous claims? Unless a real, solid, person comes forward and states that they were bullied by Gordon Brown, this whole business should be considered inadmissible.
We’re supposed to believe that a number of different individuals all chose to call the same helpline, and more than that, that they unnecessarily divulged the sensitive information that they worked at Number 10.
The National Bullying Helpline has this to say about itself on its website:
The National Bullying Helpline is the brainchild of Christine Pratt and her husband David. Christine first set up HR & Diversity Management Ltd in 2002 and realised the enormity of the problem caused to industry by bullying at work, so launched a bullying Helpline. The Helpline was awarded Charity status early 2007 and is the only UK workplace Bullying Helpline Charity in the UK run by qualified CIPD professionals. The Charity is the only Helpline in the UK that addresses bullying in all corners of society.
I’m sorry to say, but The National Bullying Helpline should lose it’s charitable status for its confidence-breaching and naked politicising. There are many other similar helplines that do respect confidentiality, and do so without funnelling money to their husband’s Human Resources company.
The whole thing stinks like a political hit-job just a few weeks before a General Election. Journalists were sent by Conservative operatives to Mrs Pratt makes it obvious that there is a link, and the way that the opposition parties are making hay out of this is distasteful. They’re now calling for an in-depth enquiry, which is clearly an excuse for a fishing expedition to rummage through the inner workings of Downing Street. Gordon Brown is now caught in an intolerable position, having to deny ever-escalating accusations from ghosts, who can have whatever words put into their mouths that Brown’s enemies choose. You can’t defend yourself if you don’t know your accuser.
Disclosure: I’m a Liberal Democrat voter, not a Labour one, and I am far from happy with the way Nick Clegg is handling this.