Voices: Esther McVey as ‘minister of common sense’ is more bad joke than anti-woke...

Esther McVey has been appointed minister of common sense (aka, the ‘tsar of anti-woke’). (EPA)
Esther McVey has been appointed minister of common sense (aka, the ‘tsar of anti-woke’). (EPA)

The UK has jumped the shark. The writers’ strike must have really hurt this season, because those in charge of the political plot have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep us guessing: from bringing characters back to the show, purely for nostalgia, even though it makes no sense to the storyline (David Cameron)… to manufacturing conflict for no reason (calling the police “woke” and criminalising protest, so that the far-right then attack the police, and the police attack the left – thanks to last week’s main character Suella Braverman).

Then, they introduce something so unrealistic that the audience just accepts that the showrunners are out of ideas: that’s Esther McVey being appointed minister of common sense (aka, the “tsar of anti-wokeism”).

Touted as a “plain-speaking northerner”, she appears to have been brought in with a brief to tackle “woke” issues in Whitehall, or to lead the charge on the government’s “anti-woke” agenda, which is in itself so fantastical as to be completely insane. It is said one of her priorities could be cutting the number of diversity officers in the civil service.

Let’s be clear on this: the dictionary definition of “woke” is to be aware of the injustices in society, with the implication that any decent person would therefore be actively fighting those injustices. So, if we have a government minister whose sole job is to fight against the “scourge of wokeism”, then we have a government minister whose sole job is to promote social ignorance and inequality. If the Tories shouted “we’re the bad guys” any louder, they’d probably get arrested under their own anti-protest laws.

Even Jacob Rees-Mogg knows this is ridiculous: “What is her role?... What is a tsar for wokedom [sic]? What does it mean? I don’t believe in tokenistic phrases for government posts.” That’s the closest we’ve ever come to an admission from the right that some people simply throw the word “woke” at anything they don’t like.

The Tories have been surprisingly upfront about the fact that their main strategy is to use senseless and divisive rhetoric to win voters. Lee Anderson, the deputy chair of the Tory party, was asked what the party’s strategy was for the next election and his response was: “It’ll probably be a mixture of culture wars and trans debate”.

That is especially tragic when you think about it in the context of the last 14 years. The last election was won by Boris Johnson, who’d spent four years promising people that Brexit would make them richer after the hardship of austerity. Instead, the official government economists say Brexit has made people significantly poorer. And the people of the UK are now experiencing the sharpest fall in living standards on record.

The United Nations even intervened last week to say that UK poverty levels might actually be a breach of international law, due to the government’s failure to help people. But instead of an election campaign based on celebrating financial security, all we get is Esther McVey.

It’s a poor punchline. And it undermines the voters. Instead of concrete solutions to the cost of living crisis, we’ve effectively been encouraged to be in conflict with the police. Perhaps they think that will distract us from the new age of austerity?

The problem with that strategy is, we already know the score. People have seen that bigotry doesn’t pay the bills. Boris Johnson, the champion of political incorrectness, or “common sense” as McVey might put it, only made people poorer. And the polls show two out of three people in the UK believe Brexit has only made us poorer, despite all the claims that it was the left keeping working people down.

The Conservative Party has described Esther McVey’s new anti-woke role as “standing up for working people”, but the poverty that working people face is the real injustice. Meanwhile, we have a prime minister that bragged about defunding poor areas to help rich ones. So most people are now well aware, that standing up for working people is, by definition, woke!

Fin. Curtains closed. Lights down.