The union for managers and professionals in public service
Home  >  News and media  >  News  >  FDA criticises Dowden’s “frankly insulting” comments on return to offices
Thursday 07 October 2021

FDA criticises Dowden’s “frankly insulting” comments on return to offices

Oliver Dowden847
After Conservative Co-Chair, and former Minister for the Cabinet Office, Oliver Dowden said civil servants should get “off their Pelotons and back to their desks”, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman accused him of pandering to the party faithful, pointing out that "what you deliver is far more important than where it’s delivered from”.

Penman told BBC News that the "hypocrisy of ministers" was "frankly insulting to the dedication, professionalism and commitment of hundreds of thousands of public servants." Writing for the Times, he also pointed out that discussions around hybrid working were not a "binary argument", despite ministers' attempts to paint them as such, "all for a quick headline":

"Not only do you single out a civil servant for public derision who loyally served you, safe in the knowledge she cannot answer back, but you also insult the hundreds of thousands of public servants who continue to serve you and the government. I hope it was worth it."

Reflecting further on Dowden's comments and the attitude of some ministers in his latest column for Civil Service World, Penman argued that "if the civil service wasn’t delivering the government’s priorities, they’d have a point. But of course, they don’t. It’s an artificial battle of binary choices conjured up to demonstrate how tough they are, to an audience that knows no better and pundits who couldn’t care less."

Dowden's comments came only a day after former minister Jake Berry referred to civil servants "woke-ing from home". As reported by both the Telegraph and the Mirror, Penman remarked that "you can just smell the desperation in their argument when they need to invent a culture war to justify their point".
6th May 2022
It has been another extraordinary year for the FDA. As the fastest growing union in the country, we have reached record levels of membership.
3rd May 2022
Scott Dobson outlines why the FDA chose to launch a legal challenge to the Prime Minister’s decision that the Home Secretary did not breach the Ministerial Code, and how the Court came to its rejection of the idea of different standards for ministers
Find us
FDA, Centenary House, 93-95 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1NL