Kenan Malik in Pandaemonium:
‘Woke orthodoxy abolished”; “a landmark speech”; “a counter-revolution”. One couldn’t miss the fawning from certain sections of the media. Whoever is responsible for equalities minister Liz Truss’s spin definitely deserves their Christmas bonus.
Truss, who doubles up as the international trade secretary, gave a speech on Thursday to the Centre for Policy Studies that promised to “reject the approach taken by the left, captured as they are by identity politics and loud lobby groups”, to dump fashionable “postmodernist philosophy – pioneered by Foucault” and, instead, to “root the equality debate in the real concerns people face”.
Take away the culture-war rhetoric and the anti-woke bombast, however, and there was little that moved beyond the bland. “It is not right,” she said, “that having a particular surname or accent can sometimes make it harder to get a job.” It is “appalling that pregnant women suffer discrimination at work” and that they have to “dress in a certain way to get ahead”. That “employers overlook the capabilities of people with disabilities”. And “outrageous… that LGBT people still face harassment”. No mainstream politician of the past 25 years would have disagreed. Though, if someone on the left had said all that, they would probably have been denounced for pursuing “woke orthodoxy” by the same voices now lauding Truss’s counter-revolution.
Truss dressed it all up as a demonstration of “conservative values”. What it actually revealed was the degree to which liberal orthodoxies have become accepted in Britain, including by conservatives.