DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Can the CBI survive this lurid scandal?
If Confederation of British Industry bosses thought that sacking director-general Tony Danker might draw a line under their troubles, they were sorely mistaken.
Mr Danker, a former Guardian executive and Labour policy adviser, was dismissed after allegedly sending unwanted messages to a female employee, which she regarded as sexual harassment.
But there are at least a dozen allegations of misconduct against other men within the organisation, including of sexual assault, sending explicit images and even rape.
Complainants spoke of a ‘toxic culture’ of ‘unchecked misogyny’ and widespread use of illegal drugs. Three male employees have been suspended and City of London police are now investigating.
For Britain’s premier big business lobby group, whose members include some of the country’s biggest firms, this is a devastating scandal, from which it may not recover.
Mr Danker, a former Guardian executive and Labour policy adviser, was dismissed after allegedly sending unwanted messages to a female employee
Quite apart from these accusations, there has long been a feeling that the CBI is static and outdated.
Its main preoccupation in recent years seems to have been moaning – about Brexit, migration policy, lack of government support, even Thatcherism, which made many of its members rich.
Membership has already fallen from around 250,000 to 190,000 over the last decade as newer, more nimble companies, especially in the tech sector, viewed it as obsolete and ineffectual.
The question now is whether it has any future at all in its current form. Or indeed whether it should.
Biden’s Irish test
President Joe Biden’s dewy-eyed Republicanism no doubt plays well among Irish-American communities in the US.
Citing Wolfe Tone, leader of the 1798 rebellion against British rule, as a political hero and fond of recalling his grandmother’s implacable hatred of the English he wears his Celtic roots on his sleeve.
But if he is to have any hope of playing honest broker in the stalemate over power sharing at Stormont, such gushing sentiment needs to give way to hard pragmatism.
Arriving in Belfast last night Mr Biden’s top priority was said to be protecting the Good Friday Agreement. To do that, he must treat Nationalists and Unionists as equal partners.
The immediate source of conflict between the two is the Northern Ireland protocol, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.
Arriving in Belfast last night Mr Biden’s top priority was said to be protecting the Good Friday Agreement
The result has been a Unionist boycott of Stormont, creating a ‘democratic deficit’, whereby civil servants must make decisions that should be made by elected politicians.
Rishi Sunak has offered an imaginative solution to the protocol in the Windsor Framework, but the Democratic Unionist Party believes it still gives the EU too much power over Northern Irish affairs.
If their reservations can be overcome, government from Stormont will resume and we could see a new era of cooperation. But it must be done by persuasion and diplomacy.
Tony Blair, one of the architects of the Ulster peace process, warned Mr Biden that trying to pressurise the DUP into returning to Stormont would be futile.
It would also be dangerous. Vestigial paramilitary groups across the divide are just looking for an excuse to cause mayhem. He must not give them that excuse by taking sides.
As co-chairman of the BMA junior doctors’ committee, Robert Laurenson has been a cheerleader for the hugely damaging four-day strike which began yesterday.
So will he be joining his colleagues on the picket line?
Alas, no. He has a family wedding to go to and will be on holiday all week.
So while he’s happy to cause maximum anxiety and inconvenience for his patients, he draws the line at interrupting his own social life. What dedication!
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