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15th May 2023

Bye Bye Bully: Raab Reels At His Own Resignation

Dominic Raab’s exit as Deputy PM proves that Parliament has a bullying problem. But can this case serve to ensure MPs face more accountability in future?
Bye Bye Bully: Raab Reels At His Own Resignation
Photo: Pippa Fowles, Number 10 @ Flickr

Dominic Raab’s long-awaited fall from grace finally landed in the form of his resignation as Deputy Prime Minister on the 21st April, following an individual investigation into workplace bullying that found him guilty in 2 out of 8 cases. The investigation was catalysed by various complaints from Civil Servants against Raab’s conduct during his time as Ministry of Justice and Foreign Secretary.

The report, carried out by Adam Tolley KC, found his behaviour to have been intimidating and threatening, through “unreasonably and persistently aggressive conduct” that degraded and humiliated others. Raab’s demeanour was described to be an “abuse or misuse of power” by way of going “beyond what was reasonably necessary in order to give effect to his decision”. Tolley asserted that Raab must have been at least somewhat aware of this effect. The civil servants who came forward were described by Tolley to be sincere in their claims, demonstrating anxiety and stress which Tolley believed to be caused by Raab; a lasting effect of his iniquity.

No one should ever resort to bullying as a means to achieve their wishes- it’s twisted and vile- and especially a man of his position. As a ‘representative’ of the people, he should demonstrate greater savoir faire than to stoop so low as to humiliate his staff. Alas, he built his throne on bedrock and settled for the lowest.

Outraged by the investigation, and wrapped in an arrogant overconfidence adorned with a bow, Raab petulantly declared that if he were found to have been involved in any cases of bullying, he would resign. Whether a good-natured act of individual ministerial responsibility, or a badly aimed bullet to his own foot, Raab was true to his word. He didn’t go quietly, however. Affronted by the findings detailed in the report, Raab contended that it was flawed and inaccurate. (The 60 pages describing undermining and aggressive behaviour would suggest otherwise, Dominic.) His resignation letter to Rishi Sunak, which was accepted with “great sadness”, was devoid of sufficient remorse and humility.

Raab went even further, in attempting to turn the tables and play victim by claiming that the situation was an attack against him by the civil service. His article in the Telegraph, however, shed more light on the situation (and condemned him even further.) Upholding his rejection of the report’s findings, the Deputy PM determined that the standards to which his behaviour was held “set a dangerous precedent” for MPs’ flexibility of conduct. Raab then seized the opportunity to convince the country he was not a bully with an ill-disguised threat- “the people of Britain will pay the price for this Kafkaesque saga”. Really putting some elbow grease into hammering the last nail into his own coffin, there. After feeling the injustices against him had been sufficiently expressed, he left with all the decorum of a screaming toddler. Well done for maintaining your dignity, Raab.

The inquiries into his behaviour do not stop at his resignation, however. Calls for further action to be taken are circulating, with a new complaint being filed to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards arguing that the behaviour may demonstrate “serious breaches of the code of conduct”, and that his letter to the Telegraph did not demonstrate the amiability and respect expected from MPs towards their staff and colleagues. In the wake of such behaviour, some are pushing for him to be ousted from Parliament altogether.

As a disgruntled constituent of Raab in his Esher and Walton seat, the circulating whispers of possibility that he will be removed as a Tory MP following the revelation of his conduct are enthralling to me. Being the Conservatives’ greatest competition for the seat, the Liberal Democrats have been quick to the mark in pressuring Raab’s remission from the constituency, no doubt keeping their fingers crossed in eager hopes of a by-election. Party leader Ed Davies determined that the Conservatives must send the correct message about bullying, and use Raab as an example that it will not be tolerated. So, after enduring years under Raab’s Conservative safe seat, maybe this is the window of opportunity I have been staring wistfully out of finally opening.

Amidst the ashes of the Deputy Prime Minister’s legacy, perhaps there is a broader tale of responsibility and ownership here. As Parliament witnessed the graceless exit of a man who seemed surprised and outraged that his actions could possibly have consequences – after all, politicians can get away with pretty much anything, right? The report, however, looms over MPs as an omen of accountability.

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