Officials at the Government Legal Department have been ordered to scrap diversity, equality and inclusion training in the latest ministerial “war on woke” salvo.
Attorney general Suella Braverman said she had asked the department, which has 2,800 staff – three-quarters of whom are either solicitors or barristers – to brief her on the diversity training being provided at taxpayers’ expense.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
The 1,900 hours of time cited by Braverman averages out at each GLD employee spending around 40 minutes on the training courses in question last year.
Braverman’s comments came in an opinion piece published in the Daily Mail under her byline. They follow comments from her cabinet colleague Jacob Rees Mogg earlier this week, who said civil servants needed “focused learning and development” that improves service delivery, not “woke folderol”.
Braverman said diversity jobs may have been created with good intentions, but she said it was clear they were now “part of the problem, not the solution”.
She said “experts on white privilege” who shared their insights with staff were cited as authoritative, but all subscribed to “the left-wing view” on race, gender and sexuality that she said “permeated their training materials”.
“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,” Braverman said.
“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.”
Braverman called on other ministerial colleagues to demand figures on their departments’ diversity programmes so they can “scrutinise” the value for money they offer. “The ‘diversity’ agenda thrives in darkness,” she said.
She praised Conservative Party leadership frontrunner Liz Truss – currently foreign secretary and secretary of state for women and equalities – for committing to scrap diversity jobs across Whitehall.
“Britain needs a lot of things but it certainly doesn’t need woke commissars policing our thoughts,” Braverman said.
“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.”
Braverman was also a candidate in the Conservative Party leadership race. However she failed to secure enough support from MPs to make it to the final five.