Oliver Dowden. Claims to be a credible politician
Because his chosen platform was that provided by the Heritage Foundation. That’s the outfit based in Washington, DC, that promotes climate change denial, more restrictive voting laws, and is hostile to what it calls Critical Race Theory instruction. It has promoted false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 US Presidential Election. It is far-right.
So what did he have to tell them? Standing before what looked like an ironing board, he airily regaled his audience with gems like “Today, a social media mob can cancel you merely because you have dared to challenge one of the left’s fashionable nostrums … so conservatives themselves must find the confidence to mount a vigorous defence of the value of a free society”. In other words, poorly reasoned horseshit.
Ignoring the inconvenient fact that “Cancel Culture” is an invention of the right, a strawman to be wheeled out and knocked down, he doubled down with “We cannot be complacent about defending our values against this painful woke psychodrama. It will take courage to resist it. Too many have fallen for the idea it is kind or virtuous to submit to these self-righteous dogmas. It is not”. Dogmas that do not exist. And WOKE WOKE WOKE.
This was received enthusiastically by the deeply unpleasant Zac Goldsmith, and also serving Tory MPs like Simon Clarke. None of those out there on the right noticed that their bedfellows - the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press, right-wing voices in the broadcast media, and other right-wing groups - are far more effective at getting their opponents “cancelled”, to use Dowden’s happy phrase, than anything the left can muster.
Dowden clearly does not know what “Woke” means. But he does know it can be compared to Maoism. So he and his fellow Tories can play the victim while beating up on those who have the audacity to oppose them. It was so obvious it led to Armando Iannucci delivering a cynical comeback: “It’s terribly woke of you to try muting the BBC and Channel 4 because you don’t like what they report”. LBC host James O’Brien was on the same page.
“Speaking at the Heritage Foundation because there are so few secretly-funded hard right ‘think tanks’ in the U.K. that he had to find an American one … It’s easy to mock Oliver but 12 years of Tory government culminating in an 80-seat majority built on the jingoistic lies of Brexit & led by the most blatantly dishonest British politician in living memory clearly validates his insistence that people like him are the real victims”. OUCH!
More seriously, Miqdaad Versi noted the HF “hosted some of the biggest Islamophobes in the world”. Jessica Simor QC told Clarke “moral relativism is what allows you to claim that the PM does not lie”. Labour MP Chris Bryant mused “This Oliver Dowden speech is about as vacuous as can be. But it’s also dangerous. It implies we should all just tug the forelock to authoritarian views of the world. Liberty comes in many dimensions”.
And Jolyon Maugham summed up. “‘Do not challenge the continuing right of people like me to rule in our own interests’: Oliver Dowden translated”. Got it in one.
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