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Oliver Dowden plots to replace ‘metropolitan bubble’ running cultural institutions in ‘war on woke’

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Oliver Dowden vows to have MORE statues erected to British heroes as he demands the ‘metropolitan bubble’ controlling cultural institutions is replaced with Red Wall voters under Government’s ‘war on woke’

  • He wants museums to be more relevant to people living outside London
  •  Said he he wanted a ‘moreish’ attitude to history – including more statues
  • ‘Heritage organisations should take into account the views of the entire nation’

Oliver Dowden opened a new front in the Government’s ‘war on woke’ today as he demanded the ‘metropolitan bubble’ lose control of the nation’s cultural institutions.

The Culture Secretary demanded that museums and galleries be as relevant to ‘a grandparent in Hartlepool or Harwich’ as a ‘millennial in Islington’ amid the ongoing row over monuments to Britain’s imperial past.

After attacks on statues of figures linked to the slave trade including Edward Colston in Bristol he said he wanted a ‘moreish’ attitude to history – including more statues being erected, not fewer.

Figures from the Department for Culture Media and Sport show that half of appointments of the boards of publicly-funded institutions last year lived in London.

Writing in the Telegraph today, Mr Dowden said: ‘Heritage organisations should be free from government meddling, but the people who run them also need the courage to stand up to the political fads and noisy movements of the moment.

‘And as national institutions, heritage organisations should take into account the views of the entire nation: the people for whom they were set up, and whose taxes pay for them. 

‘That’s why I want to make sure the boards of these bodies are genuinely diverse and not solely governed by people from metropolitan bubbles. I want a grandparent in Hartlepool or Harwich to feel as represented by their decisions as a millennial in Islington.’

The Culture Secretary demanded that museums and galleries be as relevant to ‘a grandparent in Hartlepool or Harwich’ as a ‘millennial in Islington’ amid the ongoing row over monuments to Britain’s imperial past.

After attacks on statues of figures linked to the slave trade including Edward Colston in Bristol he said he wanted a 'moreish' attitude to history - including more statues being erected, not fewer.

After attacks on statues of figures linked to the slave trade including Edward Colston in Bristol he said he wanted a ‘moreish’ attitude to history – including more statues being erected, not fewer.

Battle of the Bogs as Jenrick targets gender-neutral loos

Public buildings will be forced to have separate male and female toilets under plans to target activists for ‘gender-neutral’ loos.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick is to rewrite planning regulations to enshrine separate stalls in new buildings and demand partitions be installed in current unisex facilities.

The Telegraph reported that the move was in response to claims that women were finding it hard to find single-sex facilities.

It said the change would apply to offices, shops and entertainment venues, plus hospitals and other public services.

A source close to Mr Jenrick told the paper: ‘It’s a necessity for women to have access to their own provision of toilets, but too often separate sex toilets are being removed by stealth – causing great distress. 

‘We’ve listened to the concerns raised by women and the elderly about their security, dignity and safety and are going to maintain and improve safe guards by updating regulations in order to ensure that there is always the necessary provision of separate toilets for everyone in the community.

‘These changes will help to maintain safeguards that protect women and the proper provision of separate toilets, which has long been a regulatory requirement, will be retained and improved. We recognise there needs to be a public service provision for everyone in our community, and want to help to deliver on that objective.’

He denied that this was an attempt to set the UK’s troubled history ‘in aspic’, saying it is ‘ight that we reassess and reinterpret events as our understanding evolves’.

‘ But any account of the past should start from a commitment to telling a balanced, nuanced and academically rigorous story – one that doesn’t automatically start from a position of guilt and shame or the denigration of this country’s past,’ he added.

One that acknowledges, for example, the evil of slavery, but acknowledges this isn’t a uniquely British crime, and that our nation led the world in eradicating it. 

‘One that is willing to grapple with the paradox that our predecessors could both gift us the advancements of the Enlightenment while tolerating things we would never tolerate today. 

‘One that doesn’t take the places that were built to unite us, and use them to drive a wedge between us. 

‘Our museums, churches and village halls are places where people get married, or go to enjoy a family day out. They were built for joy, celebration – not to divide us or fill us with shame.’

The move comes after the Government last week revealed that student unions who ‘no-platform’ speakers could be fined £500,000 under a new law to protect free speech. 

The Queen’s Speech unveiled a new bill threatening institutions and student unions in England and Wales with fines if they unjustly bar controversial guests.

Universities have been dogged in the past few years by ‘no-platforming’ campaigns which saw well-known and highly respected speakers blocked from giving talks over views deemed too ‘controversial’.

The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill aims to end ‘no-platforming’ on campuses by giving a regulator the power to issue fines.

The Office for Students (OfS) can currently force payouts of either £500,000 or two per cent of the university’s ‘qualifying income’ for each breach of its rules – whichever number is higher.

The latter is the money gained from tuition fees and additional OfS funding.

The specific details of the bill – including the fine expected to be levied for freedom of speech breeches – are yet to be published. 

But the new bill states the OfS – a non-departmental public body of the Department for Education – must promote the importance of ‘freedom of speech within the law’ and ‘academic freedom for academic staff’ at universities. 

Unions have blasted the bill, saying the government has ‘over-exaggerated’ freedom of speech issues on campuses. 

University and College Union general secretary Jo Grady said threatening fines for ‘no-platforming’ means universities could be less inclined to host events in the first place – having the ‘very same effect’ as banning controversial guests. 

University lecturers also pointed out that ‘funding thresholds’ and an abundance of paperwork would deter unions from inviting any speakers.

Others claimed freedom of speech includes the ‘freedom to disinvite’, and not allowing students to do so could affect the ‘welfare of minoritised students’.  

Poll proves wokery lost Labour ‘Red Wall’ seats 

Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is out of touch with public opinion on woke issues, a Mail on Sunday poll has found.

The survey revealed that the party was overwhelmingly associated with support for politically correct issues – such as pulling down statues of historical figures – that are not backed by voters.

The figures will add to concerns among Labour strategists that the party’s metropolitan image is alienating its working-class base, particularly among its former supporters in the North.

Sir Keir’s position is under pressure following a poor set of local election results along its former heartland of Red Wall seats this month and the loss of the Hartlepool by-election to the Conservatives for the first time since 1974.

A survey (pictured) showed the Labour party was associated with support for politically correct issues, such as pulling down statues of historical figures, that aren't backed by voters

A survey (pictured) showed the Labour party was associated with support for politically correct issues, such as pulling down statues of historical figures, that aren’t backed by voters

The poll, conducted by JL Partners for the Campaign For Common Sense, found that 56 per cent of people think Labour is most likely to agree with pulling down statues – despite Sir Keir saying it was ‘completely wrong’ for protesters to take down a statue of slaver Edward Colston last year.

Only 18 per cent of people support pulling statues down, while 59 per cent oppose it.

Labour is also perceived to support the issue of men being allowed to redefine themselves as women and access female-only facilities, with 43 per cent associating the party with support for it and just nine per cent regarding it as a Tory issue. 

Only 19 per cent of people support the measure, while 48 per cent oppose it.

Likewise, 31 per cent think Labour would support the idea of breastfeeding being renamed ‘chestfeeding’, but only five per cent of voters back it; and 36 per cent think Labour would support children being given puberty blockers as part of hormone therapy to change gender, with 61 per cent of people opposing it.

The poll also finds that 52 per cent of people ascribe ‘negative attitudes towards the Royal Family’ to Labour – attitudes which 51 per cent of people object to; and 47 per cent think Labour wants shorter sentences for criminals, which are opposed by 65 per cent of people.

The gulf between the parties is also revealed by analysis of the voting records of the respondents. 

Sixty per cent of those who support statues being taken down voted Labour in 2019, compared with 11 per cent of Conservatives, and 58 per cent of those who support children being allowed to take puberty blockers voted Labour, but only one in ten Tories. 

Just over half of those who support shorter sentences for criminals voted Labour, but only 16 per cent of Conservatives.

 

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