Left wing activists have 'hijacked' social media says Nadine Dorries

People are afraid to say what they think for fear of being ‘cancelled’ and left wing activists have ‘hijacked’ social media says Nadine Dorries in first TV interview since becoming Culture Secretary

  • Ms Dorries told the BBC she does not plan to ‘charge out on a culture war battle’ 
  • She said social media is scaring young people away from having serious debates 
  • Liverpudlian MP added she disagrees with removing statues of historical figures
  • Also addressed plans to reach young people and help arts recover from Covid 

Nadine Dorries has accused left-wing activists of ‘hijacking’ social media – adding that people are too scared to say what they think for fear of being ‘cancelled’. 

In her first TV interview since becoming Culture Secretary, the Liverpudlian MP criticised ‘cancel culture’ for frightening young people away from serious debate. 

She also said she does not plan ‘to charge out on a culture battle’ after being branded the ‘minister for culture wars’ by The Observer last month, a label she described as ‘what other people say about me, not what I say.’

The label stemmed from outspoken tweets by the politician, before she took up her new role, in which she blasted ‘left-wing snowflakes’ for ‘ruining comedy’ and accused the BBC of left-wing bias.  

In her first TV interview since becoming Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries (pictured) said she does not plan ‘to charge out on a culture war battle’

Speaking to BBC’s culture editor Katie Razzall on Tuesday (pictured together), Ms Dorries criticised ‘cancel culture’ for frightening young people away from serious debate

She also said she does not plan ‘to charge out on a culture battle’ after being branded the ‘minister for culture wars’ by The Observer last month, a label she described as ‘what other people say about me, not what I say’ 

Speaking to BBC’s culture editor Katie Razzall on Tuesday, Ms Dorries also said she disagrees with the removal of statues and artworks dedicated to historical figures.

She said: ‘Sometimes I think we just need to tone down the condemnation and the judgment, and evaluate and engage a little bit more than we do. 

‘I think social media probably contributes a lot to this.

‘People are afraid because of the amplification in the echo chambers of social media.’

The MP said she stands by some of her outspoken tweets, including one in 2017 in which she said ‘left-wing snowflakes are killing comedy’.

Ms Dorries said that some comedians had expressed similar concerns recently, adding: ‘I just said it first.’ 

She added that such tweets are aimed at those ‘on the left who have hijacked that space’, not people who ‘do want to talk about these issues seriously.’  

On the idea of removing statues and artworks dedicated to historical figures linked to the slave trade or other troublesome pasts, she said: ‘You can’t, with this whole cancel culture, wipe it all out like it didn’t happen and pretend it didn’t exist.

The MP said she stands by some of her outspoken tweets, including one in 2017 in which she said ‘left-wing snowflakes are killing comedy’

Nadine Dorries insisted to MPs on Thursday that she does not use her new-found role as culture secretary to put pressure on the BBC’s news coverage.

It came after a tweet she wrote on Wednesday which was addressed to the corporation’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

The message was a response to a tweet by Ms Kuenssberg, who had quoted an anonymous Conservative MP as saying Prime Minister Boris Johnson was ‘weak’ and that his authority was ‘evaporating.’

In a now-deleted tweet, Ms Dorries replied: ‘Laura, I very much like and respect you, but we both know, that text is ridiculous, although nowhere near as ridiculous as the person – obviously totally desperate for your attention – who sent it.’

The interaction was raised in Parliament the following day by Labour MP Jo Stevens.

Ms Stevens said: ‘Would she agree with me it is highly inappropriate for a government minister overseeing licence negotiations to seek to influence editorial decisions, including how the prime minister was interviewed, and using the threat of reducing BBC licence funding while doing so?’

To which Ms Dorries replied: ‘I did not rebuke Laura Kuenssberg, someone who is maybe the best in the business … some members opposite seem to have difficulty understanding a composition of 240 characters. 

‘The tweet was completely misinterpreted, I was not rebuking Laura Kuenssberg and never would.’

Ms Dorries added that she was ‘close to reaching an agreement’ with the BBC over the cost of the licence fee over the next five years. 

The agreement is expected to force the corporation to make more cuts.

‘You can’t wipe away our history, either the good or the bad.’

It comes after the Bank of England removed eight paintings and two busts of past governors and directors who were linked to the slave trade this summer.  

As culture secretary, Ms Dorries’ to-do list includes setting the price of a TV licence for the next five years, a decision on privatising Channel 4 and bringing in a new law to protect young people online. 

She has also just announced the Culture Recovery Fund, a £107m grant to help up to 1,000 arts and heritage organisations recover from the Covid pandemic.  

But in her interview this week, Ms Dorries, who is also a successful author, said she described some of the negative reaction to her new role as ‘quite misogynistic’.

Comedian Dom Joly had said it was ‘like the result of some drunk bet’ while comic Mark Thomas said she had ‘written more books’ than she had read.

‘People were making these comments for political attack and nothing else,’ Ms Dorries told the BBC.

‘I just found them thoroughly unpleasant.’

Ms Dorries grew up in one of the poorest parts of Liverpool, and said her priority is to help young people from backgrounds like hers to get involved in arts, culture and sport.

‘Those people in those backgrounds are of every colour and every sexuality, but are we looking after everybody when we talk about diversity?’ she said. 

The politician said the new round of funding from the Culture Recovery Fund will help institutions ‘through the recovery period’.

Renowned institutions including the Bristol Old Vic, National Youth Theatre and English National Symphony Orchestra will receive support, while Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House receives the largest sum, with a grant of £1,288,643.

The English National Ballet in London and the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury also received hefty sums, being given £1,103,842 and £1,000,000 respectively.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the money provided ‘lifelines’ for organisations being supported by the fund for the first time, including regional theatres, local museums and independent cinemas.

The funding has been welcomed by celebrities including Dame Judi Dench, Clive Owen, Rebecca Hall and Mike Leigh.

The DCMS said £30 million would be paid to theatres to provide vital continuity support and keep doors open for pantos and other plays over the Christmas period.

Theatre organisations to benefit from the latest round of funding include the Royal Exchange Theatre Company, the Young Vic Company, the Theatre Royal in Bath, and North Devon Theatres.

The London Transport Museum, University of Warwick, and Y Not Festivals UK also received funding.

Musical charity the Military Wives Choirs, which next year celebrates its 10th anniversary, received a grant of £92,000.

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