Allison Pearson in the Telegraph thinks she’s put her finger on what’s really driving the U.K. labour crisis and putting older people off working: the unrelenting, soul-destroying wokery that now permeates every workplace and makes anyone to the Right of Chairman Mao feel like they don’t belong. Here’s an excerpt:
It’s true that lockdown showed a lot of busy people that time at home with family could be more rewarding than the gerbil-wheel of a daily commute. But something else is going on here, I think: increasingly, the modern office feels like hostile territory to baby boomers. Relentless wokery is driving the more mature into retirement before it drives us round the bend.
Gareth, a Planet Normal listener, wrote to tell me he retired last year from his job as a lawyer to a major public inquiry after three-and-a-half years engaged by the Cabinet Office. “The CO strives hard to promote a ‘woker than thou’ attitude (about the only department in which it does strive hard!) and since the pandemic this went into overdrive,” says Gareth. “It encompassed the entire woke canon from compulsory ‘unconscious bias’ training through finger-wagging lectures on ‘micro-aggressions’, ‘white fragility/privilege’, critical race theory, BLM and structural racism, aka all the shibboleths of the progressive Left, but under a supposedly Conservative Government.”
According to Gareth, the Cabinet Office “is symptomatic of the whole civil-service culture which treats the elected Government with disdain and pursues its own ultra-woke agenda which is entirely contrary to official policy”.
Like many members of staff his age, he was appalled by the “all-pervasive propaganda”. He couldn’t stand a climate in which often entirely innocuous comments were treated as “micro-aggressions” and any deviation from the official view (formerly known as “a difference of opinion”) was treated as heretical.
The civil service, the NHS, higher education and far too many private companies have become a paradise for “recreational offence-takers” who love to air their concocted grievances. On one occasion, Gareth had a complaint lodged against him for using the term Anglo-Saxon. “Apparently, it has negative connotations for the woke. Who knew?”
I reckon there are an awful lot of Gareths out there. Talented, hard-working men and women in their 50s, 60s and 70s who, earlier in their careers, were not exposed to this relentless and rather scary politicisation of the workplace and don’t want to tiptoe about in what Jon calls “this divisive and pernicious Maoist culture”.
Why would any 56-year-old wish to return to work when chances are they will be judged for the crime of not being in possession of the correct pronoun (or even comprehending what that means)? Only recently, a reader told me that a position in the NHS trust where he worked remained unfilled because no one sufficiently “diverse” had applied. It was an important job, one which really needed doing, but far better to leave it vacant than appoint some old white bloke with the right experience, eh?