Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Culture wars: It’s the Right that is trying to cancel free speech

Many of the arguments made in this piece are reasonable and relatively accurate in terms of criticisms of the Right, but the article is completely lacking in insight and self-awareness regarding criticisms of the Left.

By Adam Ramsay Open Democracy

While the powerful try to silence those who speak back to them, working-class cultures all over the world are quietly being erased. Last in a series of four on the culture wars.

Four fronts of the British culture wars

Culture wars aren’t a distraction, they’re a battle over everything
Culture wars: what is identity politics?
Culture wars: why does rural England vote Tory?
Culture wars: It’s the Right that is trying to cancel free speech

The logo is a fist in the air, clutching a union flag.

Britain Uncancelled, “the campaign to end cancel culture and protect free speech” was launched in October with a website in bright primary colours, and merch to match. It soon gained support from Tory MPs, including the former cabinet minister Esther McVey.

“An intolerant minority of politically motivated campaigners are trying to shut down debates and cancel the views of people they disagree with, and their voice is getting louder because of the platform they’re being given by the mainstream media and big corporations,” the press release declares.

In November, Britain Uncancelled got down to business, launching a campaign to “defund cancel culture”. The Manchester Meteor, a community newspaper, received £25,000 from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the group said, even as the Meteor “actively pushes for Manchester statues to be reviewed”. Apparently this means the paper was waging war on freedom of speech and should be banned from getting public funding.

Other targets include an academic who got a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and tweeted criticism of Winston Churchill.

Before December 2019, the term ‘cancel culture’ seemingly barely registered in the UK. Since then, it’s become a common feature of irate conservative commentary. What is this all about?

There is very little on Britain Uncancelled’s website to tell you who they are. But one detail does give it away. In the small print of its ‘contact’ page, journalists are directed to Barker Strategy.


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