Tory chairman says 'painful woke psychodrama' is weakening democracy in the west

14 February 2022, 22:00 | Updated: 14 February 2022, 23:35

Oliver Dowden dubbed "woke" ideology as a "dangerous form of decadence"
Oliver Dowden dubbed "woke" ideology as a "dangerous form of decadence". Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden has denounced what he describes as a "painful woke psychodrama" sweeping the West, claiming it distracts from efforts to stand up for democracy.

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In a speech on so-called "cancel culture" hosted by the Heritage Foundation in the US, Mr Dowden dubbed "woke" ideology as a "dangerous form of decadence" at a time when "our attention should be focused on external foes".

He said a West "confident in its values" would not be "obsessing over pronouns or indeed seeking to decolonise mathematics".

"Rogue states are seeking to challenge the international order. And at the precise point when our resolve ought to be strongest, a pernicious new ideology is sweeping our societies," Mr Dowden said.

"It goes by many names. In Britain, its adherents sometimes describe themselves as 'social justice warriors'. They claim to be 'woke', awakened to the so-called truths of our societies. But wherever they are found, they pursue a common policy inimical to freedom."

But the speech has been met with backlash after some highlighted the Heritage Foundation's controversial right-wing views including 'climate denial' and 'opposition to LGBTQ+ rights.

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Former Civil Servant and Siobhan Benita said she was "disgusted" that Dowden spoke at the organisation adding she has "never been more proud to be woke".

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In a Tweet today the former London Mayor candidate said: "Why on earth is Oliver Dowden in Washington giving a speech to an organistion that - on its own website - denies the climate emergency, opposes abortion, attacks LGBTQ rights, opposes health care reforms. Who is paying for this trip?"

Whilst a senior Tory source stressed Mr Dowden did not endorse the environmental positions stating: "The Government has a very clear position on net zero with which Mr Dowden agrees".

During the talk, the Tory party chairman claimed "woke" ideology is now "everywhere".

"It's in our universities, but also in our schools. In government bodies, but also in corporations. In social science faculties, but also in the hard sciences," Mr Dowden said.

"But I tell you, it is a dangerous form of decadence. Just when our attention should be focused on external foes, we seem to have entered this period of extreme introspection and self-criticism.

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"And it really does threaten to sap our societies of their own self-confidence.

"Just when we should be showcasing the vitality of our values, and the strength of democratic societies, we seem to be willing to abandon those values for the sake of appeasing this new groupthink."

Mr Dowden said the West had become "obsessed by what divides us rather than what unites us".

He added: "The US and the UK may certainly be very different societies. But we are joined by the same fundamental values.

"Neither of us can afford the luxury of indulging in this painful woke psychodrama... Too many people have already fallen for the dismal argument that standing up for freedom is reactionary or that somehow it's kind or virtuous to submit to these self-righteous dogmas. Well, it plainly is not."