‘It’s no surprise that low pay workers were treated with disrespect at Downing Street’ – Darren Lewis


If the Government can prove time and again that it doesn’t care about you, what makes you think it cares about the people they probably look straight through every day when they turn up for work?

Cleaners and security guards across Whitehall held a protest

In 20 years doing this job the three groups of people I’ve probably spoken to most are cleaners, caterers and security guards.

Largely because the lack of diversity in media and sport meant they were often the people I’d identify with most.

At press conferences they’d generally be the ones on the door, doing the catering or tending to the toilets while everyone else walked in with the laptops and notepads.

So we’d give each other a nod or a smile of solidarity on the way in and look for each other on the way out.

You probably have your own versions of them – people in whom you have immense pride.







Boris Johnson (right) at a gathering in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street on his birthday
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Image:

PA)

We’d reflect on the rudeness they were sometimes treated with.

Older members of my extended family were used to that contemplation.

Hopefully the past week will serve as a reminder that they deserve better.

But it didn’t surprise me in the slightest to read of the low pay and “unacceptable” disrespect staff were treated with at Downing Street during Partygate.

Also the vomit, the red wine on walls and the general trash left by the people who either tried to shut the parties down or had to clean up afterwards.

The United Voices of the World union has confirmed most of those cleaners are Black, Asian or have ethnic minority backgrounds. Well blow me down…

As Sue Gray said in her report, the culture of drunken disrespect came from the top.

If the Government can prove time and again that it doesn’t care about you, what makes you think it cares about the people they probably look straight through every day when they turn up for work?

So, good on those cleaners and security guards across Whitehall who protested against that rotten, toxic culture towards them.







Sue Gray has lifted the lid on the behavior of Boris Johnson and his staff behind-closed-doors during the Covid pandemic
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Image:

Zuma Press/PA Images)

Good on the whistleblowers who have, in turn, shone a light on the ministers routinely breaking rules that would have had those cleaners and security guards punished and fined.

Because that “apology” from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to them was never worth the paper it was written on.

Former chancellor George Osborne probably believed he was being respectful with his tweet in the wake of the Sue Gray’s report. Instead, the condescension shone through.

“One of the things I remember most about living in Downing Street,” he said, “was how amazingly friendly, generous and kind the team who keep the place going are – cleaners, custodians, front of house and police.

Working all hours, not very well-paid but always there for us.”

I wonder who could have done something to improve their pay?




www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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