unconscious bias training session

The Mail on Sunday revealed a few weeks ago that the company that has been recruited to run these Unconscious Bias lessons uses a blue puppet called 'UB', who looks like the Cookie Monster (file image, above), in their training sessions, which makes me think of it as some kind of primary school assembly.
Imagine being called in to the boss's office tomorrow morning, a bit nervous and unsure what it is you've done wrong, and being told you've been reported by a colleague.

You've been caught saying that you disagree with the idea that Black Lives Matter is helping to deal with racism, that in fact you don't believe Britain is a racist country. And now you're to be 're-educated'. You're going on a course...

It sounds like something from Orwell's 1984, yet hundreds of thousands if not millions of people in workplaces around the UK have been ordered to attend special training sessions of this sort.

Many push a 'Critical Race Theory' ideology that suggests that - whether you know it or not - your views are tightly defined by your age, gender and skin colour. And these courses are run by 'educators' who want you to recognise and 'check' your privilege, and to understand just how little you really know.

Now imagine your company is paying £1.4 million for this training. In fact, you work in the public sector, so it's £1.4 million of taxpayers' cash.

In the coming months all of us as Members of Parliament will be asked to undertake this Unconscious Bias training, which is the second phase of our re-education following a summer of 'Valuing Everybody' lessons ordered by the parliamentary authorities.

The first part - which I did attend - turned out to be a £750,000, two-hour journey around the benefits of not being horrible to your staff. Personally, I think I'm quite nice to my team in the office.

I'm also sure that if I wasn't, those two hours would not have made the blindest bit of difference.

I'm fortunate, I suppose, that due to Covid-19 the session was held via Zoom rather than having to decamp to an office somewhere, though I don't suppose that the reduced workload has reduced the cost at all! It was still a very expensive chat.

The Mail on Sunday revealed a few weeks ago that the company that has been recruited to run these lessons uses a blue puppet called 'UB', who looks like the Cookie Monster, in their training sessions, which makes me think of it as some kind of primary school assembly.

The puppet, whose name stands for Unconscious Bias, 'helps' to explain to the class how words like 'lady' and 'pensioner' should be avoided in case they cause offence. Now this company has been given another £7,000 seedcorn money to help plan the delivery of sessions for MPs and parliamentary staff.

I hope they can agree that at least the primary school puppet will not be necessary!

I spoke out last week and made clear that I won't be taking this training. It seems totally nonsensical to me that, in my role as a representative of a community that has typically felt left behind and voiceless for many years, I should be advised that there are certain words I shouldn't use; certain issues that I should avoid; certain sensibilities that I should not offend.

How am I to raise the true feelings of an electorate that broadly feels like it's being preached at by a metropolitan elite who neither understand nor care about them, if I have to walk on eggshells and dance around the problem?

In an environment where Leave voters have been labelled thick and racist for holding a view on uncontrolled mass immigration, despite proving many times that they are a majority in this country, which institutions or trainers down here in Westminster are qualified to tell me which views on the subject might be right or wrong?

Who has the right to say that those views are a result of 'unconscious biases', of white privilege, or of lack of understanding? The answer is nobody. There is no science to back this up, and nobody has that right. We live in a free country, with free speech and freedom of expression. We used to also have a robust and resilient approach to an argument that didn't involve silencing everyone you disagree with.

Yet, here I am in 21st Century Britain reading a document from Challenge Consultancy, the company tasked with putting this training programme together. They offer to 'work with the Cultural Transformation Team' to deliver 'Cultural Competency' training - yes we are culturally incompetent now. I'm intrigued by the offer to help me to use 'appropriate terminology' and to 'demonstrate ally behaviour'.

Given that this will be delivered in the same format as the first phase of this patronising rubbish, I think it's reasonable to assume that this will similarly be costing more than half a million quid from the public purse.

Despite what these trainers may say, we are not defined by our physical characteristics. We do not have one homogenous view because of the colour of our skin. It's nonsense. Our views are formed by countless different factors; from our lived experiences, our backgrounds and from the communities we grew up in, but we are individuals. We are not defined by others. We are free to define ourselves.

Time after time the documents explain that 'the BAME community thinks x' and 'the BAME community is calling for y', as if the entire black and minority ethnic community speaks with one voice on this, or on any issue. It strikes me as presumptuous and arrogant.

Comment: Not mention, racist...

Who is qualified to police our language, or to say which views are right and wrong? Who polices those police, and makes sure that they aren't pushing unconscious biases of their own? What is being done to ensure that the people who choose careers in delivering Unconscious Bias Training don't choose that profession because they actually have their own agenda to push?

It was pointed out to me last week that, as an MP, I am in a fortunate position. Only my constituents can remove me from office.

The House of Commons can't do a great deal to punish me if I don't take the course. Yet outside Westminster, the reality is that most employees have no such independence and no power to refuse.

No wonder so many ordinary people are scared to voice dissent.

Did every single Premier League footballer really support Black Lives Matter, an organisation that campaigns to defund the police and smash capitalism? To my knowledge, every single one of them 'took the knee'.

What would have been the consequences for the one who said no? I can't imagine it would have been career enhancing. Societal pressure forces us to go along with things we disagree with, and that is not right or healthy for anyone.

With that in mind, I feel people like me have a responsibility to say something, and to do something.

I know that my concern is shared by millions of people around the UK from a variety of backgrounds - but particularly among constituents like mine who, for the most part, have not shared in the wealth generated by the booming economy in the South East.

I think Brexit is a symptom of this same divide too, and of the 'left behind' people and places who feel like they are being looked down upon by a detached metropolitan elite determined to police the way they think and talk. There is yawning chasm between our institutions and millions of the people that they are meant to work for.

Since I raised this, earlier last week, I've lost count of the number of colleagues who have offered their support - and have also promised to say no to the training. I've been stopped by Commons staff too who thanked me for speaking out against this 'total nonsense'.

It's sparked more interest than I could have predicted, and for that I am grateful.

Once again I call on colleagues in the privileged position of being able to speak out and to take a stand against this Leftist infiltration of our institutions, to do exactly that and put a stop to forced 're-education' once and for all.