Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bought Power

I don't know whether Gordon Brown has bullied anyone who worked for him.I suspect that the head of the Anti-Bullying Helpline had her own, politically-motivated reasons for breaking the confidentiality of those who reported him. But her lack of professionalism and the Government's protestations that they have a stringent anti-bullying policy at Number 10 doesn't mean it didn't happen. Employers have policies for everything. They're like the recorded voice outside Greyfriars Bus Station in Northampton warning people to use the stairwells or the subways to reach the station rather than crossing where the buses turn. People still cross the road with gay abandon but if one of them gets killed Stagecoach can defend itself in court by saying they were warned.

We've all seen bullying in the workplace. Many people have been a victim of it, including your esteemed author. And most people don't report it because they know that their lives will be made more difficult by their employer if they do, particularly if someone in the management hierarchy is the person doing the bullying. They will become a target, a figure of suspicion. And since no one has really left the culture of the Seventies behind, at work, they'll be typecaste as a troublemaker.Somebody who wants to bring the empire down.

And the investigator will be somebody who talks daily with the subject of the complaint, attends meetings with him or her, goes on training with him or her. They may fool themselves that they're impartial (some wouldn't bother with such manifest self-deception), but they can't be. It's in their interest anyway to defend the system that has given them their power.

What I can't understand, whether it be Gordon Brown (if the charges made against him are true) or the manager of some provincial office, is how a bully can live with him or herself knowing that they can only get away with the humiliations that they force on other people because those people need their jobs. Because they have to feed their children; keep a roof over their heads. That in any other situation, the power that they abuse would have no meaning and the same victim would push them in a mud puddle or walk away laughing and not give their would-be bully another thought. At least the hard man in the pub knows that people tremble everywhere he goes.


Rex said...

Workplace bullying is a serious and widespread problem. There are plenty of organisations and publications offering advice on how to lessen the impact of bullying. However they do not solve, let alone eradicate the problem. This requires the involvement and commitment of politicians and lawmakers. They in turn can be motivated to act by the people they represent. That can be done through petitions that are nowadays made easy through the internet.
Statistics show that workplace bullying is particularly serious in higher education. Please sign the petition against workplace bullying in higher education at
Please let others know about this petition.

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