Is the Conservative ‘war on woke’ doomed to fail?
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are both seeking to blame a faceless 'woke' army for the failings of their own government.
Interest rates are surging, energy bills are going through the roof and the Bank of England says the UK is heading for a deep recession within months.
And yet anyone taking a look at the Conservative Party leadership contest, will have instead stepped into a parallel universe where the real threat is a faceless ‘woke blob’ that is on the edge of destroying the country.
This belief in a menacing ‘woke’ army determined to bring down the country has long existed on the right, but it has become a dominant trope since the successful toppling of Boris Johnson.
The reality is that Johnson’s downfall, which he has sought to blame on ‘Twitter,’ was mostly self-inflicted and only happened at all because of the actions of Conservative MPs, rather than any raging lefty hordes on social media.
Yet this myth of a shadowy “left-wing establishment” continues to grow on the right, despite the fact that the Conservatives have been in government for more than a decade, with the explicit support of the majority of UK newspapers.
The supposed source of this ‘fifth column’ has also been laid at the feet of the civil service. In hustings around the country Liz Truss, who has been in Cabinet for most of the past decade and is the favoured candidate of the prime minister and the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, has suggested that she is unpopular with “the establishment” and promised to face down the occupants of Whitehall, who she suggests are determined to thwart her premiership.
In a bizarre front page this week, the Attorney General and Truss surrogate, Suella Braverman, told the Daily Mail that the new government would end the “woke witch trials” gripping the civil service.
Desperate to not miss out, her opponent Rishi Sunak has also sought to paint himself as the best choice to take on these supposedly sinister woke hordes.
“I will be incredibly robust in standing up against that lefty woke culture that is trying to cancel our history, our values and indeed our women," said Sunak, at an event last night in Eastbourne.
The former Chancellor did not specify how this dreaded army of wokeys was capable of cancelling “our women”, or indeed what such a cancelling would involve. Yet the belief in this threat is one that has been bought wholesale by the party.
Speaking at the same event, Truss was briefly interrupted by protesters from Extinction Rebellion.
The Foreign Secretary has pledged to water down the UK’s commitments to tackling climate change and last night said she would legislate to stop the spread of solar panels on farmland.
Again, she did not specify exactly what was wrong with increasing our supply of renewable energy in the middle of of a raging climate crisis, but she was clear about what the real threat to the country was.
After the protesters were silenced and removed by security, Truss welcomed the fact that the “infiltrators” in the audience had been “evicted”. She then offered “a few words on the militant people who try and disrupt our country and who try and disrupt our democratic process.”
Truss said she would “legislate immediately” to tackle “militant” unions and protestors, saying that “I will never ever, ever allow our democracy to be disrupted by unfair protests.”
She did not define which protests in the Truss era would be defined as “unfair”, but it’s safe to say that interrupting speeches from the Prime Minister will likely fall into that category.
The intent of this attempt by the Conservative leadership candidates to push the ‘war on woke’ to its absurd conclusions, seems obvious.
After more than a decade of Conservative rule, the economy is tanking and the government appears more likely than ever to be heading for the exit door.
With no-one to blame but themselves for this situation, the government and its supporters are instead seeking to deflect fault onto a new and faceless ‘woke’ enemy.
So will it actually work, or is this merely the death rattle of a rapidly expiring Conservative government?
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