Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden insulted thousands of civil servants by saying, “people need to get off their Pelotons and back to their desks.”
The comments come after Sarah Healey, the permanent secretary at Dowden’s former department, said she preferred working from home because she could make productive use of her free time and cycle on her Peloton bike.
Healey told a conference last month, “I have a Peloton and I can just get on my bike whenever I have a teeny bit of time,” according to the Daily Mail.
“That has been a huge benefit to my well-being, the lack of travelling time eating into my day.”
In response, the ex-culture secretary, who was moved during last month’s cabinet reshuffle, said: “I like my permanent secretary at DCMS enormously, Sarah Healey, but I am disagreeing with her on this one.
“I think people need to get off their Pelotons and get back to their desks.”
Dowden added that workers should “lead by example” and return to the office.
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His out-of-touch comments were slammed across Twitter.
After all, it’s unlikely for civil servants, who are on a median salary of around £28,180, to prioritise a £2,000 exercise bike with additional subscription fees in the hundreds, if not thousands.
“I know ZERO people with a Peloton,” one tweeted. “These lot live in a bubble.”
While another highlighted the confusion of who Dowden was “trying to appeal to.”
“Basic Peloton costs £1,350 upwards, much more at the height of the pandemic. Many working class people worked all the way through. Not sure who he’s dissing here and who he’s trying to appeal to”, they said.
Another added, “This is just weird framing. 0.5% of the population has a peloton sub (I looked it up)”.
One Twitter user put it politely and said: “I do hope civil servants politely tell @OliverDowden to get on his peloton & peddle off.”
Boris Johnson is expected to repeat the “get back to work” message on Wednesday during his conference speech.