A ‘macho bullying culture’.
Anyone who has taken any interest in the politics of Rotherham over the past few years will remember this witheringly accurate allegation levelled by Professor Jay in 2014.
It’s true that Chris Read has gone to some trouble to ensure that Rotherham is a less macho place these days, which is perhaps the only reason why we have Denise Lelliott bobbing and curtseying on the Front Bench like a simpleton on speed.
But Chris Read’s commitment to the eradication of the macho culture is perhaps best exemplified by the rehabilitation of his partner, Emma Hoddinott; former Press Officer to Roger Stone, as well as Deputy Leader to Paul Lakin. Emma Hoddinott, who in those two roles, is, allegedly, inextricably linked both to attempts to supress the writing of Andrew Norfolk, and to the commissioning of the reports that whitewashed the past.
Emma Hoddinott, who was forced to resign following the Casey Report which found leadership within the Council ‘Not fit for purpose’. Wil (12/09/17) quite correctly wonders why she has been allowed a second bite at the political cherry.
I have it on good authority that Read chose to ignore advice from some quarters of Labour Group, who suggested that the elevation of Hoddinott, may put him in the position of having a significant conflict of interest. And he’s got away with it. So far.
But move forward a year or so, and there are growing rumblings not just about Hoddinott’s ‘micro-management’ and ‘meddling’ in matters that are not her concern, but also about her attempts to ‘bully’ fellow Labour Councillors by acting as some kind of self-appointed adjunct to the Whip’s Office.
Quite a turnaround for the ex-Unison officer who would have been the first to scream ‘bully’ at an over-zealous manager if there was any chance that this would serve her career advancing agenda. Poacher turned gamekeeper perhaps?
Now some might say that Councillors are big enough to look after themselves, and there’s some truth in that, though it would be a brave backbencher that put in a complaint about the Leader’s squeeze. But perhaps more worryingly, given recent history, whispers about bullying of officers, and political interference are also growing louder and more numerous.
Rumour is that this has led to the resignation of a senior officer. An officer whose appointment post-dates Casey no less, so some are speculating that the bullying must be of some magnitude.
But this is Rotherham we’re talking about after all, so I’m sure the whisperers will be quietened and a veil quietly drawn over the matter. Because it wouldn’t do for it get out that it’s only the macho that has disappeared, and that the bullying culture still thrives down by the Riverside.
Or for questions to be asked about who really wears the trousers in the Leader’s Office. But these issues are important. Because, to coin an expression Hoddinott has probably highlighted in her handbook of key phrases to trot out at feminist events, the personal is political. Very political as it happens. And that’s why Chris Read’s claims about how much the Council has changed ring so hollow. For given her far from glorious track record, and the chatter about current bad practice, his rehabilitation of his partner enables the ghosts of Roger Stone and Paul Lakin to continue to flitter around the Town Hall.