It would be very easy for some of us to assume that Parliament is the location and context for ways to improve our nation. In addition the cost of running Parliament does suggest that any debate should be based on wise and sensible starting points. On the other hand given that some MPs have got some very disturbing views, perhaps it is better for their views to be made public so that others can then campaign for them not to get re-elected. Sadly, at the moment it is political groups that enable people to get elected, not their personal views or arguments and so as long as people can line up with the popular party in their setting, they will probably find it relatively easy to be elected at future voting opportunities. As I wrote here a few days ago, there are a group of MPs including John Hayes who are part of his so called Common Purpose Group which last year sent a letter to the Telegraph to prevent the National Trust for admitting that some of their premises include a history that now demands critical admission. If the original owners of the building were involved in promoting our nations slavery and colonialism, they need to be revealed as having been wrong. Sadly the letter in the Telegraph stated
The Common Sense Group was formed to speak for the silent majority of voters tired of being patronised by elitist bourgeois liberals whenever issues such as immigration or law and order are raised. Part of our mission is to ensure that institutional custodians of history and heritage, tasked with safeguarding and celebrating British values, are not coloured by cultural Marxist dogma, colloquially known as the “woke agenda”. So, when National Trust directors implicitly tarnished one of Britain’s greatest sons, Winston Churchill, by linking his family home, Chartwell, with slavery and colonialism, 20 of the group wrote to the Culture Secretary requesting he review the trust’s funding applications to public bodies.
On Thursday in Parliament there was a debate that involved John Hayes along with a small group of other people from the Conservative Party including one Minister and one DUP MP who all agreed with one another and were all keen to challenge the woke campaigners. Now of course most campaigns include a very wide range of people (just like Parliament) and there will always be potential aspects to be aware of and try to improve. However this is what Wikipedia has to say about Woke
Woke (/ˈwoʊk/ WOHK) is a term that refers to a perceived awareness of issues that concern social justice and racial justice. It derives from the African-American Vernacular English expression stay woke. First used in the 1940s, woke has resurfaced in recent years as a concept that symbolizes perceived awareness of social issues and movement. By the late 2010s, woke had been adopted as a more generic slang term associated with left-wing politics, progressive or socially liberal causes such as anti-racism, LGBT rights, feminism and environmentalism. It has also been the subject of memes, ironic usage and criticism for its methods and consequences. Its widespread use since 2014 is a result of the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd in 2020.
At the closing of Parliament last week, the small group of people took their seats and the space to speak about what they referred to as Public Landmarks Review which was not very different to the criticism of National Trust a few months earlier. Inevitably some of the statues that are in very significant places in our cities and towns represent people whose history is very disturbing. They can of course be recognised as not being bad in every sense but some of them represent a very dangerous history that is heavily involved in slavery and colonialism. The first person to speak was Gareth Bacon from Orpington who began with these words
Britain is under attack—not in a physical sense, but in a philosophical, ideological and historical sense. Our heritage is under direct assault. There are those who seek to call the very sense of what it is to be British today into question. Attempts are being made to rewrite our history, indoctrinate our children with anti-British propaganda and impose an alternative worldview.
Our institutions have been undermined. Attempts have been made to sully the reputations of towering figures from British history because the views of their time may not conform to today’s values. The rise of the power, reach and influence of social media in recent years has been highly influential, increasing the pace and spread of what is a broadly left-wing, anti-British, anti-western and anti-capitalist rhetoric. A domino phenomenon is being witnessed as a succession of national institutions and organisations accept, seemingly without question or critical analysis, the new orthodoxy.
The new orthodoxy has become colloquially known as the woke perspective. In modern day Britain, the woke viewpoint includes attacking the historical concept of Britain by reinterpreting British history in a slanted and decontextualised manner, using modern viewpoints and value judgments. In woke eyes, the British empire is no longer seen as a modernising, civilising force that spread trade, wealth and the rule of law around the globe. Instead, it is viewed as a racist, colonialist, oppressive force than invaded sovereign foreign countries, plundered them and enslaved people en masse.
Great British heroes such as Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson and Sir Winston Churchill, who were until comparatively recently almost universally regarded in a highly favourable light, now have their reputations besmirched.
Jim Shannon from the DUP then said a few words and these were responded to by Gareth Bacon with
Britain, a small country on the north-western edge of the European continent that led the world in the fields of science, industry, democracy, trade, law, the arts and much more besides, and that stood and fought, often for long periods alone, for freedom against European tyranny in the shape of Napoleon and Nazism and successfully opposed Soviet Communism, is reinterpreted in the woke perspective solely as a slave-owning force of oppression and evil. The slanted views of the woke perspective focus firmly on the past. Its preoccupation is with rewriting that past in order to alter the present. By rewriting Britain’s long and varied history to focus solely on slavery, without any acknowledgement of Britain’s huge role in stamping it out, the woke perspective seeks historical justification for its ideological belief that modern Britain is inherently racist, with an entirely shameful past.
In the next few minutes there is a comment by Marco Longhi and his comment inspires Bacon to begin to focus on the other and possibly the real political issue that lies behind which is their criticism on the current Mayor of London and their inevitable support of the prospective Conservative Mayoral candidate given the election is less than two months away. They are using the Woke issue as a basis to criticise Sadiq Khan who Bacon is very angry about because he is “Within days of the protests in central London last summer, Sadiq Khan announced that he would create a commission for diversity in the public realm”
After he has finished his views John Hayes then begins his
Politics is about values. Gone are the days when half-hearted political careerists could retreat to the safe ground of mechanistic economic minutiae, for the new battle of Britain has begun. Islamic extremists, Black Lives Matter radicals and Extinction Rebellion rioters despise our way of life, and British patriots expect resistance, not retreat, and from resistance we will advance. In years gone by, as my hon. Friend Gareth Bacon said, children were taught about the exploits of our nation’s heroes. Now, left-wing zealots and their ill-educated acolytes are determined, by cancelling the past, to dictate the future. For them, heroes must be cancelled too. Yet in the struggle to counter the brave new world of moral relativism and meaningless mundanity heroes remain vital, as he said, for our shared sense of identity. By embodying the spirit of their times, they bring historical truth to life, so building our collective understanding of how our nation was forged.
A few seconds later he states
In Marxist cultural dogma, identity must always be defined by a sense of grievance. Rather than fostering harmonious patriotic pride, they deride our colonial history, ignorantly dismissing our time-honoured worldwide contribution to civilisation. Nowhere is heroism more potent than when soldiers, sailors and airmen leave their homes, families and friends to protect British interests in storms of all kinds across vast oceans and distant landscapes.
After John Hayes finishes his whole statement there is a contribution from a gentleman called Tom Hunt from Ipswich. The second half of his words are
My hon. Friend Gareth Bacon made a wonderful speech. This matter is not just for London MPs. This is our nation’s capital, and the heritage of London is our nation’s heritage, so despite being criticised by some Labour councillors from my patch for getting involved in a debate about memorials and statues in London, I will continue to do so, and I make no apology for that.
We saw the reality this week in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. I am glad that we have increased the punishment for those who desecrate and damage our war memorials and statues, but we saw how the Labour party sought to ridicule that. It has ceased to be a patriotic party. Quite frankly, we are more likely to see its leader on his knees apologising for our country’s past and heritage than proudly standing up for it as the greatest country in the world, as my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington has wonderfully done. I will keep my comments at that: short, punchy and, hopefully, patriotic.
After these words the next and in effect the final person to speak is tragically a Government Minister which demonstrates that these comments and views are not simply radical ideas from a few individuals who are some distance from decision making, Christopher Pincher is the Minister of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. He starts with
May I begin by congratulating both my hon. Friend Gareth Bacon on securing this debate and the other Members who have spoken on their excellent, sincere and considered contributions? I always listen with great care and attention to my right hon. Friend Sir John Hayes and, as far as I am able, I always do what I can to achieve his objects. No one, either, would ever question my hon. Friend Tom Hunt for being anything other than punchy and patriotic in the pursuit of his constituents’ interests.
He says a few more things and then referring to Marco Longhi he states
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend, who of course has a statue to the Earl of Dudley looking over his town in the west midlands. The Leader of the Opposition should take his Mayor in hand, but I am afraid that I must borrow from Euripides, who famously said that those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. If Euripides were with us today, he would probably say that those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make members and leaders of the Labour party, because the leader of the Labour party has gone mad. He has been captured. He is a POW—a prisoner of woke. I trust that he will be released so that he can direct his friend the Mayor of London to pay greater attention to Londoners, because it will be for them, ultimately, to judge whether that £1.1 million of public expenditure is spent on statue destruction, or whether the Mayor might better spend his time and the public’s money trying to put up more homes for Londoners rather than pull down their statues in public parks.
And then a bit later
By doing the things that we are proposing to do, we will give the whole community—not simply the self-loathing, Britain-hating perpetual revolutionaries who seem to have captured the commanding heights of the Labour party, but the whole community—the opportunity to engage and to give their views. Additionally, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has the power to call in planning applications, and he has set out his intention to exercise that power if appropriate.
It is clear that these backbench MPs along with Christopher Pincher are reflecting some very disturbing views that are clearly agreed by many people in their political party. I would never suggest that mistakes are not made by the Labour Party and indeed by all other political groups like all of us as people. Indeed there are many negative things that do happen by supporters of the Woke views. However we have far more to resolve from our nations history than what clearly needs resolving from a few people who are using Woke to go too far away from the needs for our nation!