I was proud to work for some years, and to the best of my ability, as a civil servant in the offices of both Conservative and Labour ministers – it was my duty to the electorate and to the government of the day. Those ministers did not shy away from the odd soundbite, for sure: but they were serious people with an appetite for ideas and the best interests of the nation at heart.
Liz Truss’s latest foray into her little world of smear and unsubstantiated labelling – about alleged antisemitism and “woke” culture in the civil service – is a matter for deep concern (Liz Truss accused of offensive remarks about Jewish people and civil service, 12 August). And not just because of the fatuous nature of the straw man she is setting up to knock down.
I’m writing this overlooking a south-east London park the colour of the African savanna. We face an energy crisis. We’ve failed to level up, or conjure up any Brexit dividend. The west and China are heading rapidly in opposite directions. Ukrainians are still being killed every day. Meanwhile, back on the hustings, Truss is frightfully busy showing us all that the post-Johnson Conservative government risks being really surprisingly (and dangerously) silly and disingenuous, divisive not unifying, and wholly lacking the guts and ability to face up to and tackle the issues that should really matter to us as a nation, and to the world we all inhabit.
Making a positive difference has to start with critical honesty about where we’re at. After eight years in the cabinet already, Truss is simply never going to manage that. She’s becoming a delusional standard-bearer for still lower standards in public life, lower living standards in real life, and lower impact for the UK internationally.
Former private secretary to Michael Heseltine, and principal private secretary to Peter Mandelson
It is extraordinary that the notion of “wokery” has been allowed to carry so much insidious cultural and political power in this country. We live in frightening and challenging times. As environmental instability accelerates, economic and social turbulence mounts. Scientists began warning of where we were headed in the 1970s when there was plenty of time to act. We got to where we are today because of the lullabies of corporate and political denialism, and a mass sleepwalking into climate breakdown. There are many forces that would like the population not only to remain asleep, but to join them in jeering at the very possibility of being awake to reality. The allegation of “wokery” is increasingly deployed against taking any action to mitigate or adapt to the consequences of rising temperatures. Its dangerous, disabling, calculated cultural purposes could hardly be more obvious. It is past time to put it to bed: wake the sleepers, and start having the serious political conversations and serious political leaders that the times require.
It was unsettling to read about the congruence Liz Truss finds between “Conservative” and purported “Jewish” values. If she is elected leader of the Conservatives, I would be concerned enough to implore her: please don’t do this. Don’t claim Jews for the Conservatives or indeed any political party. We are a diverse, socially broad, heterogenous UK minority. Your notion of alignment is neither accurate nor safe for Jewish people.
Please don’t implicitly set up Jewish people as a “model minority”. This sets up a hierarchy of UK minorities, which does not serve the many communities who experience racism. And please never again link being Jewish with an innate tendency to start a business, however vague or well-intentioned your offerings on this.