COMMENT: DWP press office and the art of facts avoidance

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This is a blog which I shouldn’t have to write, but which I think demonstrates just how desperate the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has become to avoid admitting uncomfortable truths about its policies and performance.

I believe this is an issue that raises important questions about the impartiality of the Civil Service under the current government, and the right of journalists to receive straight, clear, non-evasive answers to questions that are put to government press officers, particularly those within the DWP.

It’s something I’ve been meaning to write for a while, and while DWP is by no means the only government department that is guilty of this, it is by far the worst offender.

Yesterday, Disability News Service published a news story which showed that successive ministers for disabled people had signed up only about 40 mainstream private sector employers to their flagship Disability Confident employment scheme in the three years since it was launched.

The story was based on an analysis by Disability News Service (DNS) of a list that appears on the Office for Disability Issues website.

That analysis shows that – with the exception of 15 law firms, and recruitment, welfare-to-work and employment specialists, which often have a financial interest in disability issues – the government seems to have persuaded just 26 non-disability-related private sector organisations to sign up to its national scheme, and one of those is a small café in Cornwall.

Because I like to give DWP a chance to respond to potential stories whenever I can – it’s the responsible and professional thing to do as a journalist – I approached the press office by email in the early hours of Tuesday for a comment on my analysis.

What happened over the following three or so days does – in my opinion – raise serious questions about how the DWP press office has been allowed to operate over the last six years. They were evasive, refused to respond to the points I asked them to comment on, and over-ran the agreed deadline, all of which has become standard practice (on deadlines, if they don’t over-run, the comments will arrive minutes before they expire).

Personally, I don’t blame the individual press officers. My gut feeling is that they are following orders, and have been told that if they don’t follow those orders, they will be disciplined. Of course, that doesn’t completely excuse them.

Here is how my communications with DWP’s press office progressed over those three days. The email exchange is included in full, minus the names of the individual press officers (it is a matter of convention that journalists do not name government press officers).

I suspect not many people will want to wade through the entire email exchange but I thought it was important to publish it in full – if only for my own satisfaction – as I believe it highlights the problems myself and other journalists are facing in dealing with DWP. I would be grateful for any feedback. Perhaps I’m over-reacting, but I don’t think so…

 

 

FROM DNS TO DWP: 31/5/2016, 00.13am

Hi *****/*****

Hope you both had a good bank holiday.

I’ve been amusing myself by analysing the organisations that have signed up as partners to Disability Confident. I’m afraid the numbers do not look good. I thought the best thing would be for me to email you the relevant bits of a rough draft of where the story is at the moment (see below), and then you can comment as you see fit, rather than me asking you particular questions.

Would be grateful for a comment from the minister if possible, please, or from DWP if he’s on a beach somewhere. My deadline is 2pm Wednesday. Please let me know if that will not be possible.

Also, could you please let me have the email address for the person I need to liaise with in the minister’s office re a possible interview at party conference? I know he won’t do one, but I have to ask anyway.

Best wishes,

John

The government has signed up only about 40 mainstream private sector employers to its flagship Disability Confident employment scheme in nearly three years since it was launched by the prime minister, new figures reveal.

An analysis by Disability News Service shows that – with the exception of 15 law firms, and recruitment, welfare-to-work and employment specialists, which would be expected to have an interest in the subject – the government appears to have persuaded just 25 non-disability-related companies to sign up to its national scheme, and one of those is a tiny café in Cornwall.

Fresh analysis of the partners signed up to Disability Confident shows that of the 126 organisations, nearly half – an estimated 55 – are focused on representing or working on behalf of or for disabled people, such as Suffolk Coalition of Disabled People, Mencap and Disability Rights UK.

Another 18 are public sector organisations, while there are also three quangos, a sports governing body and two social enterprises, but only about 40 mainstream private sector companies.

Those 40 include major employers such as Airbus, Asda, Honda, Balfour Beatty, Barclays, Fujitsu, National Grid, Taylor Wimpey and Sainsbury’s… and the Cornish Maid Café in Falmouth, Cornwall.

The analysis suggests that the efforts of successive ministers for disabled people – Esther McVey, Mike Penning, Mark Harper and Justin Tomlinson – have failed to persuade more than a tiny minority of businesses across the country to take the scheme seriously.

 

FROM DWP TO DNS: 31/5/16, 10.29am

Hi John

Thanks for the enquiry, we’ll get back to you tomorrow.

Best

*****

 

FROM DNS TO DWP: 31/5/16, 11.35am

Thanks, *****

 

FROM DWP to DNS 1/6/16, 2.01pm

Hi John,

Apologies but our statement will be a little bit late, we will get it to you this afternoon.

Sorry for letting you know late.

Best

*****

 

FROM DNS TO DWP: 1/6/16, 2.39pm

Thanks, *****, appreciate the update…

 

FROM DWP to DNS: 1/6/16, 5.03pm

Hi John

Apologies again for the late response.

A DWP spokesperson said:

Since December, 569 employers have registered with the Disability Confident scheme, and we’re continuing to receive around 100 registrations every month. The programme is supported by a range of major employers and small businesses across the UK – but we want to go even further to remove barriers, increase understanding and ensure disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential in the workplace.”

Background:

In December 2015 we introduced a registration facility on Gov.UK for employers to register their interest to become more Disability Confident.

Best

*****

 

FROM DNS TO DWP: 1/6/16, 6.05pm

I’m sorry, *****, but I can’t use that. It doesn’t bear any relation to the points I raised, which were all about the partners you had signed up.

I stress that I’m more than happy to include this information in the story as long as you actually engage with the points made, and also explain the difference between registering interest (which doesn’t seem to impose any obligations) and becoming a partner (which I’m guessing does).

I’m afraid I’m not going to allow DWP to avoid answering the actual questions I asked.

Can I assume the minister is on holiday, as I did ask something from him?

I also asked for a contact in the minister’s private office to arrange an interview. If you could help with that I would be grateful.

Best wishes,

John

 

FROM DWP TO DNS: 2/6/16, 10.22am

Hi John,

I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Copying in ***** who has joined the disability desk.

Best

*****

 

FROM DNS TO DWP: 2/6/16, 11.33am

Hi ***** (and *****)

Just half an hour left…

Bw

John

 

FROM DWP TO DNS: 2/6/16, 11.39am

Hi John

***** is chasing up for you now. We weren’t aware you needed something by 12:03pm. As always, we will try to come back to you as soon as possible.

Kind regards,

*****

 

FROM DNS TO DWP: 2/6/16, 12.13pm

Thanks *****, but my deadline was actually yesterday. My final deadline ie when the stories are sent out, does not change. I always send my stories out between noon and 1pm on Thursday. ***** knows that (or should do).

Can I point out – yet again, to DWP press office – that I have a mental health condition, and this constant running over deadlines and causing extreme stress with last minute responses puts my continuing fragile health at risk. I shouldn’t have to keep telling this to DWP – the home of Disability Confident.

Best wishes,

John

 

FROM DWP TO DNS: 2/6/16, 12.50pm

Hi John

Apologies for any distress caused we do try our best to get answers to your questions within your deadline. ***** did provide a response yesterday – which you were not satisfied with. He has been working all morning on your follow up email.

Please use the response provided yesterday. In your earlier email, you had asked us to comment on your draft how we saw fit – which we have done – rather than provide answers to specific questions.

You also asked for a contact for private office re an interview at party conference. Please email ***** she is actually on leave at the moment but am sure she will pick up with you when she’s back.

Kind regards,

*****

 

FROM DNS TO DWP: 2/6/16, 1.03pm

Thanks…

 

FROM DNS TO DWP: 2/6/16, 1.04pm

By the way, I would still like to receive *****’s response for a follow-up, particularly as he has been working on it all morning.

Bw

John

 

FROM DWP TO DNS: 2/6/16, 4.23pm

Hi John

Here’s a statement for your follow up:

“We are currently looking at whether any further improvements can be made to Disability Confident. All of our partners, as well as the 569 employers who have already registered interest through Gov.UK, will receive details of any potential changes in due course.”

We’ll be happy to keep you updated as and when we can.

Best wishes,

*****

 

FROM DNS TO DWP: 2/6/16, 5.03pm

*****

You haven’t explained the difference between registering interest (which doesn’t seem to impose any obligations) and becoming a partner (which I’m guessing does) which I asked yesterday evening.

And you still haven’t engaged at all with the information I sent across to you about the DC partners. Can you tell me please whether DWP is disappointed with the figures that I emailed across to you?

Clearly just asking you to respond to some clear information is not enough, and I have to treat you all like children and make it very, very clear exactly what the question is, otherwise you will find a way to avoid responding to it in a sensible way.

Just so disappointing. And causing all of us extra work, when I thought civil servants were supposed to be understaffed and overworked.

Is this really why you became a civil servant, *****?

I’ll wait to hear from you, again, *****.

Best wishes,

John

 

FROM DWP TO DNS: 2/6/16, 5.30pm

Hi John

Just to point out that you asked us to respond how we saw fit, which is what we did.

To clarify:

Being a disability confident partner means that the employer supports the scheme and we provide them with support and advice to become more disability confident, such as:

  • Join our LinkedIn community and take part in the discussion. Share information, good practice and articles on disability employment matters
  • Actively encourage other businesses to support the campaign -particularly amongst their networks or supply chain
  • Offer a disabled person a work placement
  • Host Disability Confident events
  • Allow us to publicise their support of the campaign on Gov.uk.

Registering interest means that once we have made improvements to the scheme we will provide the employer with details and they will be able to engage should they choose to.

Have a good weekend.

*****

 

FROM DNS TO DWP: 2/6/16, 6.14pm

*****

I’m still waiting for you to respond to the information I sent across to you about the DC partners. Can you tell me please what DWP’s reaction is to the information I emailed across to you, and whether you are disappointed with them and why. Please respond to each of the criticisms included in the information ie please produce a comment in response to every paragraph I emailed you. Because of your previous failure to respond sensibly, I have pasted the paragraphs below, helpfully numbering each paragraph. Please respond to each paragraph ie paragraphs numbered 1 through 6.

1 The government has signed up only about 40 mainstream private sector employers to its flagship Disability Confident employment scheme in nearly three years since it was launched by the prime minister, new figures reveal.

2 An analysis by Disability News Service shows that – with the exception of 15 law firms, and recruitment, welfare-to-work and employment specialists, which would be expected to have an interest in the subject – the government appears to have persuaded just 25 non-disability-related companies to sign up to its national scheme, and one of those is a tiny café in Cornwall.

3 Fresh analysis of the partners signed up to Disability Confident shows that of the 126 organisations, nearly half – an estimated 55 – are focused on representing or working on behalf of or for disabled people, such as Suffolk Coalition of Disabled People, Mencap and Disability Rights UK.

4 Another 18 are public sector organisations, while there are also three quangos, a sports governing body and two social enterprises, but only about 40 mainstream private sector companies.

5 Those 40 include major employers such as Airbus, Asda, Honda, Balfour Beatty, Barclays, Fujitsu, National Grid, Taylor Wimpey and Sainsbury’s… and the Cornish Maid Café in Falmouth, Cornwall.

6 The analysis suggests that the efforts of successive ministers for disabled people – Esther McVey, Mike Penning, Mark Harper and Justin Tomlinson – have failed to persuade more than a tiny minority of businesses across the country to take the scheme seriously.

Yes, I asked you to respond to the information, assuming that you would do so in a way befitting of a very well-paid civil servant ie that you would take a reasoned and sensible view of what I was looking for. Obviously I won’t do that again. Hence the above.

I’ll wait to hear from you (again).

John

 

FROM DWP TO DNS: 3/6/16, 9.07am

John,

It is completely unacceptable and inappropriate for you to converse with ***** in this way. Frankly I’m surprised that a journalist of your standing would resort to making personal insults to a junior member of staff who is simply doing a job on behalf of the Department. If you had wanted answers to specific questions, you should have emailed them across when you first contacted us. As I recall, you asked the Department to respond in a way that we saw fit, which we did. Please provide a new deadline for the questions you have asked below.

Regards,

*****

 

FROM DWP TO DNS: 3/6/16, 9.22am

Further to my email below, I’ve just reread your email and believe the information ***** has provided to date already covers your points. Therefore, our original statement stands.

Best wishes,

*****

 

FROM DNS TO DWP: 3/6/16, 10.08am

What is unacceptable, *****, is your office using every ploy you possibly can to avoid responding to a perfectly valid request for a comment on the very low numbers of partners signed up to Disability Confident. I sent you details of my analysis of the organisation signed up as partners, and ***** responded, way over deadline, with a two-line statement that did not mention any of the information I sent to him. How is that professional?

If ***** is too ‘junior’ to deal with reasoned and reasonable criticism, then I suggest he is in the wrong job. How you can attempt to justify the response you your office has given me is beyond me. Are you seriously suggesting to me that when I am treated the way I have been this week by your press office, I should just suck it up and not respond? This is really, really disappointing, but I’m not going to allow the DWP press office to yet again get under my skin and cause this to escalate.

I will ask you both, yet again, to respond to the points I made yesterday by 2pm today.

I suspect I will have to say in my follow-up that DWP, despite repeated attempts, has refused/avoided commenting and explaining why the numbers are so ridiculously low, but I will at least give you a chance to do your job properly and respond to the figures I emailed you about Disability Confident partners.

I’ll wait to hear from you.

John

 

FROM DWP TO DNS: 3/6/16, 10.32am

John,

I’m afraid we’re going to have to draw a line under this one. We won’t be providing you a further statement on this issue.

Regards,

*****

 

FROM DNS TO DWP: 3/6/16, 11.06am

  1. I think I’m probably going to have to blog on this later, because I don’t think this has been dealt with acceptably by your office. I will not be using the names of any press officers, though.

bw

John

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • User Ratings (7 Votes)
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  • Glynis Millward

    They are an absolute joke.

  • PageMonster

    The Tories only ever have Ministers Against Disabled People.

  • Doug Paulley

    The DWP provoke John with unacceptable, clearly disingenuous responses to his legitimate, well-researched and written queries, then when he reacts accordingly (and with comparative restraint!) they accuse him of being unprofessional. The hypocrisy and doublethink is breathtaking. Would that it was also surprising, but sadly it’s what we come to expect from the DWP and the Government in general – through plenty of experience of this sort of behaviour.

    I know from my own experiences of dealing with such openly disingenuous organisations just how aggravating this is. The standard bully-boy tactic of attempting to turn things round and complain of victimisation by the victim. Refusing to grasp the enormity of their failure that the critic exposed. Miring up the process of responding to the concerns as a clear tactic to change the focus onto the current “dialogue” rather than the actual issues in discussion. Intentionally frustrating the queries and the person raising them. All are standard tactics used by large organisations where they know (consciously or unconsciously) that they are in danger of being exposed as the inadequate, duplicitous organisations they are.

    I support your actions, analysis and integrity 100% and I’m glad you exposed this, John.

    Doug

    • Thanks, Doug…

      • PageMonster

        You should consider it a badge of honour that the DWP blacklisted you. It means you got too close to the truth for their comfort.

  • Oliver

    You didn’t over-react at all John. They were playing a game, having already decided they would not give out any information (probably because there isn’t any to give!) – looking for a way to blame you for ending communication, and go off in a huff!! It’s pathetic! No it’s worse, because you told them you don’t respond well to stress – and this is a Department which should have knowledge of and sensitivity to mental health issues – and what do they do, cause you stress!! Heaven help any person with a disability working for them and needing some consideration!

  • There is a very useful Acronym for analyzing abusive and even bullying conduct. DARVO – Denial – Attack – Reverse Victim And Offender.

    So the initial responses are DENIAL of the issues and a withholding of basic informtion as requested. It then quickly Translates into Attack and them reveres roles of victim and offender.

    Who ever the ring leader is they evidently have been left unprompted as their obstinate conduct proves useful to the DWP. Evidently, they also are angry that they are being held back which is used to motivate their obstinacy.

    I just have to wonder – is the government actually member of disability confident, or is it yet again do as we say and not as we do?

    • Excellent point. One govt department signed up suggests rest of Whitehall has no confidence in Disability Confident…

      • What else is new. If Both National and local Government are not endorsing this fiascos, maybe someone needs to be addressing the fiasco and not sticking ministerial heads in sand in the hope that it will all vanish.

        OSTRICATE / v. To stick one’s head in the sand in the hope it will all go away …. AGAIN!

    • AdamLotunWDA

      A very apt question, it is remarkable as to how many Governmental Departments & Organisations follow the ‘Two Ticks Symbol’, as it has been my experience when dealing with HR Officers when supporting disabled employees in employment disputes and employment retention that I have yet to come across anyone who could tell me the what the ‘Two Ticks Symbol’ was and what their responsibilities were to the same…I have yet to find anyone who knows and can provide evidence to the five commitments they sign up to when they apply for the ‘Two Ticks Symbol’ that they so proudly display as a way of showing that they show equality to diversity and equality towards disabled people.

  • Paula Czarnecki

    Oh my goodness John. How on earth do you manage having to try to deal with these people?Please keep going for the sake of my disabled child and all the sick, disabled people and their families in this country. You are doing a grand job and it is so appreciated.

  • AdamLotunWDA

    Just reading through the whole email exchange has begun to impact on my MH issues – depression, anxiety, paranoia, ptsd, bpd etc. How you manage to deal with these deliberately obstructive people is beyond me John. I especially had a major twitch when they stated that they were unaware of your deadline! It’s like people do not bother to read the whole string of emails before dealing with questions. Also, it would make sense to have a named designated person who deals with each communication as it comes in. What you have experienced and shown is a Department that is in disarray, something akin to headless chicken mode and totally unprofessional. One wonders if this is the experience of other media professionals who approach the DWP with email queries! This blog also shows that you are an extraordinary individual who cares about their chosen profession. John, you are viewed with such awe & respect within our community, as it is only you who does highlight the plights of our community and our experiences at the hands of the DWP, regardless of who is Minister at the time. The Civil Service used to be viewed as an incorruptible and respected profession, especially as it is supposedly a non-partisan entity, however how You and DNS seem to have been targeted by the DWP, through no fault of Your own, as being a troublesome thorn, maybe one day they will change their mind as to how You and DNS are viewed and they will maybe see you as Daniel who pulled that Thorn from the Lions Paw…

    • Thanks, Adam, I’m really grateful for this. Comments like this really do make it possible for me to continue my work, although it is difficult to type when I’m blushing so much.

  • GMWRAG

    There is very little doubt that DWP and, especially their Press Office, have become incredibly politicized over the life of the last two governments. Their failure to collect meaningful data and to consistently abuse what they do have is transparently political. Their ability to spin all of that is transparently political also.

    Reading through this whole exchange does raise other concerns though and it’s a leap that they were being deliberately obstructive because of political instructions. It strikes me that the original email did not ask for specific responses and was not absolutely clear on a deadline. Relying on personal relationships with big organisations is an understandable thing to do but also a tad unrealistic in the current climate. Everything sent to an organisation like DWP needs to assume that there is a turnover of staff and that it is used to their advantage when asked to comment on things like the proposed article. Ask specific questions if you have them and give them an explicit deadline in bold. Every time, regardless of who you’re dealing with.

    It’s also worth stepping back for a second about the assumptions behind the approach. The writer has clearly stated their perspective by the tone of their draft article and the subsequent clarification of their explicit questions. What exactly was the response being looked for? Were we really expecting the DWP to come back and hold their hands up and say “Well, yes it’s been a miserable failure!”. At best you’d get “Progress has been slow but things are moving ahead now” type glib responses.

    So, one would have to question, the extent to which a journalist would ever need to press an organisation like DWP for specific answers. They were never, under any government, going to admit failure or answer specific questions. Indeed they’re on a hiding to nothing if they did. The journalist is going to write what the journalist is going to write. It’s the right thing to give an organisation the opportunity to respond but, really, that’s all it is. The right thing to do. It isn’t going to cast any light on the argument at all.

    Would also agree with DWP, and it grieves to say this, that if you want a comment on an article you write one document. If you want a comment from a minister you write another. If you want an interview you want another. Putting all of that in one place is not the way to go.

    Clearly Disability Confident is an abject failure and demonstrably so. It doesn’t need a sound bite from DWP to confirm that. Give them an opportunity to respond to a specific deadline and print that. Don’t assume the audience for the article are lacking in intelligence to the extent they can’t see through such a glib response.

    Finally, what this also illustrates is that email is a very poor medium for this kind of communication. Where possible, pick up the phone and work through who would be responsible for what and go from there.

    • I’m reluctant to engage in a debate with an anonymous contributor so I would be grateful if you could give me a rough idea of who you are and who you represent, if anyone. However, are you really arguing that journalists should not try and get a proper response from an elected government when one of their programmes appears to be a complete failure? That I should just let it pass? Surely disabled people deserve to know why these numbers are so low? If you think journalists should not do their best to at least try to hold their government to account, I’d love to know why.
      You say that I was not absolutely clear on a deadline. This is what I said: ‘My deadline is 2pm Wednesday.’ I’m not sure how much clearer I could have been. The reason I asked them to say if they wouldn’t be able to make that is because of their record of missing deadlines, and my explaining to them the impact that had on my impairment.
      You also suggest that I shouldn’t include a note asking for a future interview in an email asking for a comment on a story. Why?
      Finally, your point about using the telephone: I agreed with DWP a year or two back that it would be better to use email than telephone, mostly for impairment-related reasons. I assume you wouldn’t have a problem with that.

      • GMWRAG

        Sorry, but you’re game playing. Our website, Facebook page and Twitter feed tell you who we are and are but a search away for any journalist. Still, good piece of cheap point scoring.

        Our members deal with the DWP every day of our working lives and essentially we’re on the same side. We know how politicised they are and how poorly they work. We challenge them daily and successfully.

        To deal with the points you raise in turn.

        1 – Clearly we did not suggest that you don’t ask. We observed that what you were asking for was never going to happen and wouldn’t add anything to your article. Pursuing it as you have seemed designed to score a point rather than elicit an answer.

        2 – You asked for several things in the 1 email. You gave 1 deadline not several and you gave them an instant out. Debate as you wish but they took that out because it was there.

        3 – We explained why you shouldn’t put 3 separate requests for 3 things that will all come from different teams. If you deal with the DWP daily that should be self evident.

        4 – You seem slightly behind where DWP are up to. We would always put things in writing but for the stuff you were asking it seems disingenuous to not also pick up the phone and chase unless you wanted them to fail so a cheap point could be made.

        The fact you have taken a straight forward post and inferred that we said or suggested things that we plainly did not is a concern.

        You run a fantastic, invaluable service. Please don’t indulge in cheap points scoring by suggesting there is somehow a world where if only they’d met a deadline, given you an interview etc. then you would have had a detailed, responsive quote. Hasn’t happened in our lifetime: Won’t ever happen. It’s politics.

        Give them every chance by all means but don’t act all surprised and angry when they do what they’ve always done and you can’t show your approach was beyond reproach.

        Perhaps you’d like to reconsider your last sentence re: impairment. You’re probably not going to get a debate with anyone if you attempt to upbraid and patronise them. It was a subtle use of language but fairly transparent.

        • I’m really not point scoring. I had no idea that your id belonged to a particular group. I don’t play games. My mistake, I apologise. I must admit that I don’t understand your key concerns , and we probably both have better things to do with our time than continue to debate this. I was trying to push DWP to give a proper response to concerns about the number of Disability Confident partners, and not to get away without engaging with the real concerns. As for the last sentence, I think I’m entitled to be a little short with you when the whole of your original comment was incredibly patronising and seemed to be aimed at explaining to me how journalists are supposed to work. I’m a journalist with a mental health condition, and the reason I tend to deal with DWP by email is for impairment-reasons, in that dealing with them on the phone over stories like this can easily – and has done in the past – provoke extreme levels of anxiety. I shouldn’t have to explain that to you, particularly as you have been so incredibly patronising about my work, but I have done so now. Which of course is now further impacting on my mental health. Well done.
          I think really we should leave it there.

  • For_honest_priests

    We by which I mean the people are political footballs. We are not a beloved topic or special interest or of much interest at all. They use shaming and ridicule because they are unevolved and personally immature as well as pathetically unconscious of work. Do not waste so much time on them, I feel this is rather to your detriment as the better man. Theirs is not the same class of character or grouping or domain, it is not commensurate at all in fact, paradoxical as it may appear with all those fancy titles, pay-grades, stylings and authoritarian airs and graces. They are repeaters and hierarchialists, always looking for a lead, precedents, for these people existing legalisms suffice and only by the slightest degree should anything ever develop, if at all. Please become acquainted with Kafka’s The Trial to become acquainted with this personality type intimately. We mistake the infantile with the highly-strung at our own risk. In addition the high-handedness is usually a bluff in the absence of ideas and competence. It is all lip-service in that game of essentially two sides which cannot get it together much less their noble ventures both because by the time one takes off the next government comes to wreck it and because it is a game where there can never be winners because soon enough the winners lose and they feel they nobly follow historical precedent in the manner of Machiavelli for instance which is what politics is but I think also much ignorance underlies the arrogance and to sustain the cool and command they will be required to display and petty pedantic reasoning to make the office think well of itself and be capable of appearing confident when they account for their chronic lack of competence at the next meeting. And please do not give people the benefit of the doubt when they take the benefit or means of survival from their own customers / clients / users / people / poor / disabled / children / children’s children. There is no use appealing to manners.