Boris Johnson’s historical hero, Winston Churchill, was openly racist and the British Empire relied heavily on slavery and exploitation. But these historical facts make a lot of British voters, who have built their national identity around Britain’s greatness, pretty uncomfortable. The prime minister knows that, and has clearly spotted an opportunity.
On Tuesday, Johnson’s government announced its latest naked attempt to force its opponents into a culture war over what they disparagingly dismiss as “woke” opinions and actions. Britain’s education secretary, Gavin Williamson—who you might have assumed would be more busy finding a way to reopen schools and universities—unveiled his new measures to tackle alleged “silencing and censoring” at empty campuses.
In a press release that gave no tangible examples of the supposed free speech violations his new policy is designed to tackle, Williamson said: “I am deeply worried about the chilling effect on campuses of unacceptable silencing and censoring. That is why we must strengthen free speech in higher education, by bolstering the existing legal duties and ensuring strong, robust action is taken if these are breached.”