Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said people are afraid to say what they think for fear of being “wiped out” and that leftist activists have “hijacked” social media.
In her first televised interview since taking the job, she said she has no intention of “getting into a battle of culture warfare.”
He criticized online activists for frightening young people “who actually want to engage” in serious debate.
He also described the negative reaction to his new role as “quite misogynist”.
“People were making these comments for a political attack and nothing else,” she told BBC cultural editor Katie Razzall. “I just found them completely unsightly.”
As culture secretary, his tenure includes fixing the price of a television license for the next five years, privatizing Channel 4, and introducing a law that protects young people from harm online.
It has also just announced an additional £ 107 million as part of the Culture Recovery Fund to help nearly 1,000 arts and heritage organizations continue their recovery from the pandemic.
Last month, The Observer described Dorries as “minister for culture wars”.
But in the interview earlier this week, Dorries said it was “what others say about me, not what I say”.
He explained: “Sometimes I think we just need to ease the conviction and judgment, and value and engage a little more than we do. I think social media probably contributes a lot to that.
“People are afraid because of the amplification in the social media sound boxes.”
Dorries herself has been outspoken on social media in the past, for example saying in 2017 that “left-wing snowflakes are killing comedy.”
She stayed true to that comment, noting that some comedians had recently expressed concern that they could no longer take certain topics lightly. “I just said that before,” he told the BBC.
“You can’t erase history”
Any such jarring post on social media is aimed at activists “on the left who hijacked that space” rather than people who “want to talk seriously about these issues,” he said.
He also said he disagrees with the removal of statues and other monuments related to the slave trade and other aspects of history, such as the removal of the Bank of England of paintings and busts of past governors and directors.
“You can’t, with all this culture of cancellation, just blow it all away as if it didn’t happen and pretend it didn’t exist,” he said. “You cannot erase our history, neither for good nor for bad”.
Dorries grew up in one of the poorest areas of Liverpool and said her priority is to help young people from a background like hers get involved in art, culture and sport.
“Those people in those environments are of every color and every sexuality, but do we take care of everyone when it comes to diversity?” she said.
His reputation precedes him – as a politician who shoots from the side, who previously had quite heated discussions with critics on Twitter, and who has been dubbed in some quarters the “minister for culture wars”.
Prior to our meeting at London’s Young Vic theater, an MP even told me to “tie you up for that interview”.
She is a far more interesting secretary of culture than many previous ones, not least because she has sold more than two million books. He may also be right that the critical reaction to his appointment by some in the industry has been sexist and snobbish.
Some of her responses about how we all need to be kinder and listen to each other a little more will raise eyebrows among those (and she elicits strong feelings) who will say that Nadine Dorries herself doesn’t listen to opposing views. In flesh and blood, he was definitely listening, even in a conciliatory way.
Its declared mission – to broaden access to the cultural and sporting world – seemed sincere. She is not the first to say it. But the difference is that he speaks with authenticity as a result of his personal experiences.
She leveled up personally, rewarded with a cabinet job after intense loyalty to Boris Johnson. But as the 10th secretary of culture in 10 years, will he be around long enough to make a difference?
The £ 107 million Culture Recovery Fund announced on Friday will help 925 theaters, museums, cinemas and other cultural venues and organizations “during the recovery period,” Dorries said.
Winners include Leeds Grand Theater, English National Ballet and The Marlowe Theater in Canterbury, Kent, which received at least £ 1 million each.
“Make no mistake about this. Many theaters wouldn’t be up today if the government hadn’t supported them for the past 20 months,” he said.
Some commercial theater operators such as Sir Cameron Mackintosh have not received emergency funding, but those who have applied have opened their accounts with the Treasury, he said.
“You’ll hear some people in the theater industry say, ‘We didn’t get any of that money,’ but they’re still up and running with the plays, which is actually testament to the fact that they don’t have.” They don’t need funding. , because I’m still here. They have private investors “.
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Dorries is also working on the new online safety law, which will require social media platforms to quickly remove harmful content or potentially face multibillion-dollar fines or even jail time for executives. He told them to get ready.
“They got notice. They got a fair warning,” he said. “This bill is coming. Respect your terms and conditions now. Remove your malicious algorithms now.”
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