Monday, 22 February 2010

Bullying gets political: allegations against Brown, Tory Communications Director already heavily fined for bullying

The media frenzy concerning allegations of bullying by Gordon Brown will inevitably throw this week's spotlight on what sort of behaviour is appropriate in the workplace, regardless of whether that workplace is 10 Downing Street or the neighbourhood children's nursery.

The decision of Christine Pratt of the National Bullying Helpline to claim that members of the Prime Minister's staff had contacted her charity not only politicises the issue of bullying, but also demonstrates the importance of confidentiality in such cases, together with the damage that can be done when breaches of confidentiality occur.

It's also inevitable that questions will be raised over how altruistic such anti-bullying services can be, especially when they are linked to legal practices deeply involved in potentially lucrative litigation against employers.

And the editorial team of HR Case Studies wonder how long it will be before a link (however tenuous) is made between the allegations against Gordon Brown and the fact that Andy Coulson (who is Conservative Leader David Cameron's Director of Communications and Planning) has already featured on the pages of this humble blog. In his former role as editor of tabloid newspaper News of the World, Coulson was judged to have displayed a "consistent pattern of bullying behaviour" towards one of his sports reporters. Due to his behaviour, the News Of The World was fined £792,736 by an employment tribunal. It is believed to be the highest payout of its kind in the media.

Coincidence: or something more sinister?

1 comment:

  1. Morning Graham

    I am so glad you are picking up on the PM alledged bullying issue. I think this is endemic in our workplaces.

    As it happens, I am busy writing about power in the workplace, abuse of which in my mind is linked to bullying. I have always loved Bandura's stuff on social learning and self-efficacy. Only this weekend, I found his paper on 'moral disengagement', which I recommend. See Moral Disengagement In The Perpetration Of Inhumanities

    Bandura is optimistic and is persuaded by our human choice and determination to behave morally. I am with Bandura on this. We are not forced to behave in a particular way by the environments within which we operate. In other words, the PM has a stressful job but that is no excuse to behave in anything other than a considerate manner.