In a speech today, Rishi Sunak will attempt to revive his faltering campaign to become the next leader of the Conservative Party by attacking “woke nonsense”. The Evening Standard has more.
While claiming he has “zero interest in fighting a so-called culture war”, the Tory leadership hopeful will pledge to “end the brainwashing, the vandalism and the finger pointing” and “protect British freedoms” if he becomes Prime Minister.
In a speech in West Sussex on Saturday, Mr. Sunak will say: “What’s the point in stopping the bulldozers in the green belt if we allow leftwing agitators to take a bulldozer to our history, our traditions and our fundamental values?
“Whether it’s pulling down statues of historic figures, replacing the school curriculum with anti-British propaganda or rewriting the English language so we can’t even use words like ‘man’, ‘woman’ or ‘mother’ without being told we’re offending someone?”
Tory members will receive their ballots on Monday with a YouGov poll of Tory voters showing Liz Truss leading 62% to 38% ahead of Mr. Sunak.
As a free-speech campaigner, I welcome Sunak’s pledge to “protect British freedoms”, which, as the ex-Chancellor says, includes making sure teachers don’t abuse their position to promote an authoritarian, anti-British, woke agenda, stopping employers and institutions punishing people for using words like ‘man’, ‘woman’ and ‘mother’ on the grounds that they’re offensive and reforming the Equality Act 2010.
These are among several pro-free speech positions the Free Speech Union has been campaigning for during the Conservative leadership contest. We’ve created a template email and urged Conservative Party members to send it to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak in the hope of extracting precisely the sort of pledges that Sunak will make today. If you’re a member of the Party, use our campaigning tool to email the two candidates. It only takes a couple of minutes.
Our five-point Free Speech Manifesto is as follows:
Rishi Sunak is right to think these positions are popular – not just among Conservative Party members, but with the general public. We commissioned Professor Matt Goodwin to do some polling for us and published the results here. The headlines are:
- When asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement ‘The Government is doing a good job of protecting free speech’, only two per cent say they ‘completely agree’, with 12% saying they ‘somewhat agree’, 19% saying they ‘somewhat disagree’ and 16% saying they ‘completely disagree’. Among 25-49 year-olds, the number who completely agree falls to just one per cent.
- On the Online Safety Bill, which the FSU has been campaigning against, 45% of respondents think that social media companies should not remove or restrict lawful speech, while just 14% think they should. Among those aged 65 and older, the number agreeing with our position rises to 53% and the number disagreeing falls to 13%.
- Fifty-six per cent of people agree with our proposal that free speech should be included among the British values taught in schools, with only seven per cent disagreeing. Among those aged 65 and older, the number of people agreeing rises to 71% and the number disagreeing falls to three per cent.
- The public is broadly supportive of our proposal that there should be stronger legal protections for workers’ rights so employees cannot be disciplined for refusing to take a diversity training course, with 34% agreeing and 26% disagreeing. Among those aged 65 and over, 45% agree and only 16% disagree.
- On Non-Crime Hate Incidents, 33% agree that investigating people for ‘non-crimes’ takes the police away from more important work, and 29% disagree. Among those aged 65 and over, the number agreeing rises to 50%, with only 20% disagreeing.
Whatever you think of Rishi Sunak, if you support free speech you should welcome his attack on “woke nonsense” and his pledge to defend “British freedoms”. Now we just need Liz Truss to make a similar commitment to promoting free speech. If you’re a member of the Conservative Party, please take two minutes to email both candidates, using our campaigning tool, and urge them to support our manifesto.