OPINION

I wonder if those rubbing their hands with glee that the latest societal escapade into some sort of behavioural or social engineering are disappointed with the initial results of the campaign.

Some have decided bullying is our new issue du jour. Trevor Mallard no less, to some people surely one of the better examples of a bully if you look at his record, has led the charge to out the baddies, lift the rug and extract the trouble.

At the weekend our first two alleged culprits were women. Now many might ask, why wouldn't they be? And that, of course, is a very good question.

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Bullying for most of us is not a gender issue. But for some, perhaps too many, it is. And what they would have been expecting is a collection of old, white, balding males to be outed as the misogynists that they so clearly are, or have been perceived to be.

But no, the allegations - or questions at least - have been levelled at MP Maggie Barry and Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell.

Now, I know both women, not well, but for the record I can happily report they've never bullied me, or indeed shown any signs of it.

And from what I have been able to ascertain so far with actual evidence, the term bully, as it always was going to be, is open to an extraordinary amount of interpretation. And there lies the modern dilemma with our fixation on virtue signalling.

The "Me Too" movement was, of course, a serious attempt to out sex pests and criminals. We did that to a degree early on, but like so many of these things, the nutters and obsessives take over the operation, and before you know it looking the wrong way makes you a perv who needs locking up.

And so it will be with our current fascination with bullying. What is bullying? Who decides?

Your bullying is not my bullying. I can hear it already: the hand wringers will be crying, "if you feel bullied, you are."

Well, can we, before we lose all sense of normality, at least suggest it depends in what circumstances you find yourself? In a highly competitive work environment, say the Retirement Commissioner's office, or an MP's office, results are expected and demanded.

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Or you might be working through a restructure in which dead weight is being rooted out to improve productivity.

Now, are those people open to feeling vulnerable? Or perhaps feel like they have been bullied? Is a useless person in the office more likely to cry foul over a dismissal, or an objective review of their work that lacks the required professionalism or skills? Of course they are.

So were they bullied? Or were they simply not good enough? And who decides?

And like "me too" you can see where this is going, sadly. It will become a national finger pointing exercise. Where mud sticks and accusations fly like confetti and for what?

So we can dabble yet again in a good dose of virtue signalling, and cardigan-wearing ideology. It's a dangerous and slippery slope.