Tory Woke Wars: 5 New 'Nonsense' Culture Rows Whipped Up This Week

·5 min read
This week has seen a flurry of anti-woke stories (Photo: HuffPost UK)
This week has seen a flurry of anti-woke stories (Photo: HuffPost UK)

First it was statues, then it was footballers taking the knee, now the new culture war is about a “woke blob” apparently trying to cancel Christmas.

Barely a week goes by without a politically charged row about “woke” civil servants, human rights lawyers or young people.

This week has been no exception, with the culture secretary declaring her own children are “lefty snowflakes”.

Nadine Dorries is seen as the government lead in the so-called woke wars - having previously railed against the BBC and called Mirror journalists “bottom feeding scum”.

Some Tory MPs similarly criticise what they describe as “woke madness” but others have told HuffPost UK they feel uncomfortable with the culture wars.

Even former prime minister Tony Blair got in on the action this week, urging Labour to “emphatically reject” wokeism.

One headteacher has grown so fed-up with it, she called on adults to stop mocking young people by calling them “woke” for standing up for things they believe in.

The term “woke” was meant to signify awareness of social issues but some have weaponised it as an insult.

Here, HuffPost UK runs you through the latest rows - some of which critics say are “manufactured” and “nonsense”.

The Blob

The Mail on Sunday front page headline screams: “NOW THE WOKE ‘BLOB’ TRIES TO BAN CHRISTMAS”.

Versions of this story traditionally come around every Christmas, but this year it manages to shoehorn in the term “woke”.

This one claims that civil servants blocked the word “Christmas” from efforts to avert a winter Covid crisis, as they “fear it would offend minority religions”.

However, as some critics pointed out, the blob appears to refer to the Cabinet Office which is run by former Brexit secretary Steve Barclay.

And the civil servants in question were just discussing making an anti-Covid campaign relevant to those who do not celebrate Christmas.

The story has been heavily criticised online, with one Twitter user saying: “I’m Muslim and was in the nativity play at school. My mum said I was a cute sheep. We don’t care. We’ve never cared.”

Another described it as “unhinged” and “nonsense”, while Labour MP Louise Haigh joked: “The generic festive holidays come round earlier and earlier every year.”

Speakers Silenced

Another story has a go at civil servants who have apparently been banned from inviting “woke” speakers who criticise Boris Johnson’s policies to address internal events in Whitehall.

An email circulated across Whitehall warns that invitations should not be issued to individuals who have “spoken against key government policies”, according to The Telegraph.

It comes after speakers critical of the government were apparently invited to address Whitehall social or networking events.

Barrister and director of the Good Law Project Jo Maugham hit back saying it was the conduct of a government “fearful of challenge” that responds to it by “trying to silence the speaker”. Others criticised the move as being “North Korean”.

Dave Penman from the FDA civil servants union added: “If the intention is to protect impartiality, this presumably means those who have spoken in support of government policy will also be banned from speaking. It’s going to leave a very short list of suitable speakers.”

Human Rights

Priti Patel has come under fire for her approach to the channel crossings this week after 27 people died trying to make the journey.

Among the many reports in today’s Sunday papers, she apparently dropped plans to restrict the use of human rights laws to block deportations, due to concerns in Whitehall that the move would be too controversial.

The Telegraph claims the plans were blocked by other departments over concerns it could rub up against the European Convention on Human Rights.

They quote John Hayes, a former Home Office minister, who said parliament had to “wrestle back control” from courts, adding: “We think of ‘wokes’ as weird people in academia but unfortunately woke influence extends even into Whitehall. The champions of the people have to push back against it.”

Dorries Does It Again

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries has provided a lot of content for the woke wars this week.

Not only did she call her children “lefty snowflakes” at a Commons committee hearing, but she also made controversial comments in an interview to the Daily Mail.

She used both to criticise a decision by the Brit awards to abolish separate award categories for men and women.

The Mail said she was “horrified at the creep of wokeism” across Britain today as she vowed no statues would not be getting “knocked down” on her watch.

Also in her interview, Dorries dismissed fellow Tory MP Caroline Nokes’ allegations of inappropriate touching by the prime minister’s father.

Dorries said she had known Stanley Johnson for 15 years and described him as a gentleman.

She rejected Nokes’s claim that he had “smacked her on the backside” at the Conservative party conference in 2003 and added: “I don’t believe it happened. I have known Stanley for 15 years. He is a gentleman. It never happened to me. Maybe there is something wrong with me.”

A source close to the culture secretary tried to defuse her comments in the Guardian today, saying: “Nadine knows she should have been clearer in her answer. Having known Stanley for so long she found it hard to believe he had been inappropriate.”

Nokes said she was “very sorry” the secretary of state had used her influence and power in the media to “denounce me in this way”.

Notre Damned

It turns out our friends in France are not immune from accusations of “wokeism” from the British press.

Notre Dame cathedral is facing a “woke Disney revamp” according to an exclusive by The Telegraph.

They report that Paris’ iconic fire-ravaged cathedral will be turned into an “experimental showroom” with confessional boxes, altars and classical sculptures replaced with modern art murals and sound and light effects to create “emotional spaces”.

One social media user responded: “Apparently the word ‘woke’ has now taken on a new meaning to refer to any kind of modernist architectural design!”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.


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