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The conservative president has denounced what he claims is a ‘painful awakening psychodrama’ sweeping the West and undermining its confidence, arguing that people shouldn’t be ‘obsessed’ with pronouns or ‘trying to decolonise’ math.

Oliver Dowden, a senior conservative and former culture secretary, made the remarks about “cancelling culture” in a speech to the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing US think tank.

Dowden said the “woke” ideology was a “dangerous form of decadence” at a time when “our attention should be focused on external enemies”.

He said a West “confident in its values” would not be “obsessed with pronouns or even seeking to decolonize math”, in comments that appear to mock the concerns of trans rights activists and those who push to confront the legacy of colonialism.

Since entering No 10, Boris Johnson has hired or promoted several ‘anti-awakening warriors’, including Munira Mirza, his former political boss, who resigned this month, Kemi Badenoch, the equality minister, and Nadine Dorries, culture secretary.

However, Dowden’s preoccupation with the subject suggests the Tories might be willing to make it a platform for their next election campaign.

Conservative party chairman says ‘painful waking psychodrama’ is weakening the West |  Olivier Dowden
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He gave a speech at the Conservative Party Conference last year to denounce ‘woke aggression’ and cancel culture, which he described as the ‘bullying and haranguing of individuals’ for their opinions. He also claimed that Labor “woke up walking through it like a stick of rock from Brighton”.

In his Monday speech, Dowden sought to suggest that “woke” ideology was weakening the West at a time when it faces threats from aggressive states like Russia. “Rogue states seek to challenge the international order. And just when our resolve should be strongest, a pernicious new ideology is sweeping our societies,” Dowden said.

“It goes by many names. In Britain, its adherents sometimes describe themselves as “social justice warriors”. They say they are “awakened”, awakened to the so-called truths of our societies. But wherever they are, they pursue a common policy hostile to freedom.

He claimed that the “woke” ideology was now “everywhere”.

“It’s in our universities, but also in our schools. In government agencies, but also in companies. In social science faculties, but also in the hard sciences,” Dowden said. “But I tell you, it’s a dangerous form of decadence. Just when our attention should be focused on external enemies, we seem to have entered this period of extreme introspection and self-criticism.

“And it really threatens to undermine our societies of their own self-confidence. Just when we should be showing the vitality of our values ​​and the strength of democratic societies, we seem willing to abandon those values ​​to appease this new groupthink.

Dowden said the West has become “obsessed with what divides us rather than what unites us”.

He added: “The US and the UK can certainly be very different societies. But we are united by the same core values. None of us can afford the luxury of indulging in this painful waking psychodrama… Too many people have already fallen into the lamentable argument that standing up for freedom is reactionary or that it is somehow nice or virtuous to submit to these self-righteous dogmas. Well, that’s clearly not the case.


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