Government Ministers need to tread very carefully, because the public is watching, therefore any attempt to humiliate, marginalise or intimidate the charity ‘National Bullying Helpline’ or its CEO, Christine Pratt. We all know how vicious the Labour Party’s spin machine can be…and we will be watching very carefully.
Already Mandelson has suggested that there is a “political operation” to undermine the Prime Minister without substantiating his claim. Nonetheless, it has been implied that because the National Bullying Helpline has Anne Widdecombe and a Tory Councillor amongst its patrons, that there may be some political bias. Why? If the claims made by Christine Pratt are true, it makes little or no difference who is a patron of the charity. There are now suggestions that Pratt’s claims are not substantiated…please, how on earth can she do that without breaching confidentiality? Moreover, I suspect that the charity allows a person to seek advice and support without giving their names, which means it would be impossible to identify the complainants even if they wanted to.
No. 10 states that the charity never informed them of the claims against them. Is that any great surprise? It would appear that the charity is primarily a support group and do not have an interventionist role unless specifically asked to do so by their clients. This looks like a cheap attempt to undermine the charity or try and place some doubt on the veracity of the claims.
There are also suggestions that the charity has “breached client confidentiality”. That is total poppycock. No details of the specific claims have been made and they have not released the names of the complainants. Surely it is only a breach of confidentiality if the complainants can be easily identified, this does not appear to be the case? This just looks like another cynical and cheap attempt to divert attention from the real issue…a case of shooting the messenger!
Of course, the charity will now open itself to scrutiny, so I hope for their sake, that they are squeaky clean. Otherwise they will find themselves subjected to all sorts of questions and investigations, because they have shaken a hornets nest here. I don’t think it was wise for a small charity to speak out in this way, but there is an argument that they were prepared to stand and be counted, which at the very least, is a case of leading by example.
The bottom line is, that if Gordon Brown and No. 10 have nothing to hide, then the best thing they could do is stop attempting to defend themselves by attacking others and agree to an independent inquiry, where staff will be given the opportunity to make statements in complete confidentiality. Furthermore, they should agree to an immediate inquiry, so that the matter can be cleared up well before the General Election, because like it or not, the public will form their own opinion…and many will consider that there is ‘no smoke without fire’. This could be hugely damaging to the Labour Party’s desire to gain another term in office.