Inside HMRC: How civil servants are revolting against anti-woke policies and vow to ‘fight fascism’ - 'don't back down!'

Esther McVey
Esther McVey told MPs what her new role entails
Steven Edginton

By Steven Edginton

Published: 11/06/2024

- 10:48

Updated: 11/06/2024

- 11:30

HMRC civil servants have questioned government "attacks" against diversity initiatives, which are often labelled woke

Civil servants in HMRC defended diversity initiatives against the government’s anti-woke ‘attacks’ and urged each other to ‘fight fascism’ in an official meeting, GB News can reveal.

On 22 May HMRC civil servants held a “reflection session” on George Floyd’s death, during which officials praised the Black Lives Matter movement and urged each other to be “anti-racist”.

One civil servant charged that the “current government is attacking EDI [Equality, Diversity and Inclusion]” and asked senior HMRC officials “How will HMRC ensure it continues to support and fund this vital work?”

The question was approved for submission by a civil service HR representative before it was sent to the HMRC directors, though they did not respond.

The government has attempted to clamp down on Whitehall wokery in recent years, with Rishi Sunak appointed Esther McVey as a 'Minister for Common Sense' to deal with the issue.

Whitehall and HMRC signs/HMRC figuresThe shocking figures uncovered revealed the scale of the 'woke' spending by HMRCGuido Fawkes/Getty/PA

Senior officials were also asked whether they thought people have become scared of the term 'equality, diversity and inclusion'.

Mandarins responded by saying “None of us should be frightened of EDI because, frankly, the Civil Service inclusion plan demands that we deliver it”, “that's not what I've witnessed”, and another said “don't back down, definitely don't do that”.

During the George Floyd discussion one senior civil servant said: “Whether people believe that we should be anti-racist, whether people believe that we should just fight to fight racism, everyone needs to be involved in the fight to eliminate all isms like that's fascism, sexism, racism, etc.”

He continued: “We encourage everyone, join your [diversity] networks, whether they are the race network, the LGBT network, their faith network, etc. because in this space, at this present moment in time, where EDI is not seen as a positive thing, think about the positive way people come together that we can do.”

Black Lives Matter flagBlack Lives Matter has come under fire after refusing to support Israel in the war launched by HamasKrisztian Elek/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

“It is not the role of HMRC civil servants, or any officials, to "fight fascism" or undermine the government ministers they serve,” Evan Riggs, a writer and commentator, told GB News.

He continued: “It is totally unacceptable that these comments were made by senior civil servants."

"While EDI programmes are well known for enforcing conformity within any organisation they are implemented in, not enough attention is paid to how much the programmes themselves are a result of useless people attempting to appear productive.”

Hundreds of civil servants in HMRC were invited to the hour-long discussion of racism and diversity, with the invite reading: “May 25th will mark 4 years since the murder of George Floyd.”

"His tragic killing sparked a cultural shift inside and outside of work, where people who perhaps weren't as conscious of the impacts of racism and discrimination were now becoming more aware, starting to ask questions, and have conversations.”

The tax-focussed officials were told to join the meeting in which a panel of senior mandarins would reflect on “Where they were when they first heard about the murder of George Floyd” and “the wider impact this had”.

Anna McGovern, a broadcaster and journalist, said: "The revelations from HMRC’s reflection session on George Floyd’s death and their unabashed support for the Black Lives Matter movement are deeply troubling.”

“This is a blatant promotion of a divisive agenda within a government body, highlighting a deeply troubling trend of civil servants pushing an ideological agenda rather than focusing on their primary responsibilities - to serve the government and the country.”

She continued: “The relentless emphasis on diversity initiatives undermines the ‘apolitical’ nature of the civil service that it is meant to represent.”

“The term ‘fascism’ being thrown around so carelessly by HMRC officials against those who criticise their EDI programmes is not only inflammatory - but also an attempt to silence legitimate concerns.”

“The civil service should not become a hub for political activism; instead, it should focus on serving the public without bias or the imposition of any ideological agenda.”

One civil servant panellist, who currently sits on the Covid public inquiry, told officials “I can't quite remember where I was [when Mr Floyd died], but one of my children brought it to my attention, and I think my focus was probably drawn towards them because of how they were impacted.”

“When I see unfairness, whether it's in work or out of work, and if it can't be explained by other factors, I would often land on race as being the reason potentially,” she said.

Another mandarin said Mr Floyd’s death “had a massive impact” on Whitehall, claiming it lead to “a peak in conversations about race, police brutality within and outside of work”.

The official continued: “Previously I worked in HMRC comms during my time there I provided close support to all of the internal networks, which included the Race Action Team [and] the Racially Abusive Callers Project, so within that, my role was to sort of help promote various events and educational materials.”

“Very senior civil servants have commended and supported the team's work, including Jim [Harra, HMRC Permanent Secretary] himself, who actually have made tackling racism a priority soon after the murder of George Floyd.”

An HMRC spokesperson said: "The account put to us grossly misrepresents the context and content of the event, which was focussed on positive contributions and progress, and was not about 'critical race theory'.”

"Like all public authorities, HMRC is legally required in carrying out its functions to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between staff of all backgrounds. All inclusion activity is subject to the Civil Service Code."

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