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Should you lose your job simply for being politically active? Dr David Nicholl reports on a bizarre postscript to the campaign to oust Bromsgrove MP Julie Kirkbride.

One of the campaigners from the ‘Stop Julie Campaign’, Mark France, has been threatened with disciplinary action by his employer, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

Mark organized the petition that led to his MP Julie Kirkbride announcing that she would stand down at the next election. Mark alleges via his Facebook page that this arose on account of an interview that he gave to Sky News on Saturday 16th May where he stated that he was from the Respect party.

Mr France in a statement via his Facebook page said “The attempt to silence me will fail. I have a democratic right to speak. Alongside thousands of other Job Centre Staff up and down the country I work hard to ensure that the victims of the recession are treated with dignity. We face a bullying management culture that stamps on the human rights of Job Centre staff and our unemployed customers”.

“The DWP can punish me and my family for daring to speak the truth…but they will not stop the ‘Peasants Revolt’ that started in Bromsgrove from growing”.

“On Saturday 20th June I will be in Bromsgrove High Street and I will speak”

When I spoke to him, he only started work in the Job centre in January (earning £14,700 per year) and was still in a probationary period so is concerned that the DWP will try and force him from his post.

Unsurprisingly, he has not, as yet, sought the advice of his MP Julie Kirkbride on this matter but he does have the full backing of his union. A hearing is due to take place on Thursday. Mr France states that the charge against him is that “employees should not comment on matters of controversy which fall within Ministers responsibility”.

Why should a man working in a Job centre be hassled for political views that he expresses outside of work?


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