Defence Secretary Grant Shapps goes to war on ‘poisonous’ woke nonsense | Politics | News

Grant Shapps vowed to end the “poisonous” woke culture that has crept into the military as he today (MON) launched a review of diversity rules.

The Defence Secretary warned there has been gradual indoctrination of “controversial leftist thinking” in the armed forces that threatens to “distract” from its main job of protecting the country from its enemies.

He said the “drumbeat of those who despise Britain” is failing the army and the public and vowed to carry out a proper shake up of official guidance to finally restore “common sense” in the services.

Writing in the Daily Express, Mr Shapps said: “Over time, a woke culture has seeped into public life and it is poisoning common sense discourse. Anyone who questions it is dismissed out of hand. And anyone who does want a woke armed forces would take us back to square one like the Labour Party. 

Mr Shapps added: “I am in a position to challenge this philosophy and I will. 

“There are serious issues we have to work on and I promise to address those during my term in service.

“But the drumbeat of those who despise Britain, her proud history and the culture of her great people, is failing the Armed Services and the British public.”

Mr Shapps tore into right-on policies such as “divisive” unconscious bias training for setting people against each other.

And he promised to review “deeply unpopular and troubling” policies such as gender neutral toilets, which force women to share bathrooms with men.

Mr Shapps is overhauling the Ministry of Defence’s diversity policy after it emerged the armed forces are looking overseas to attract ethnic minority talent because they have failed to hit recruitment targets.

The 2023 British Army’s Race Action Plan, outlining measures to boost representation, describes security clearance vetting as being “the primary barrier to non-UK personnel gaining a commission in the Army” and said security clearance requirements would be challenged.

A separate report, Policy Guidance and Instructions on Inclusive Behaviours, seen by The Telegraph, instructs soldiers to avoid religious elements in Acts of Remembrance on Armistice Day.

Mr Shapps, who is Jewish, hit out at the rule and insisted remembrance events will “remain Christian”.

He said: “I am committed to improving the working conditions and morale of all those who work in the military and Ministry of Defence. 

“This is not only the right thing to do but is key to improving recruitment and retainment in our forces.

“However, time and resources are being squandered to promote a political agenda which is pitting individuals against each other, when what we need is a common set of values which delivers the military we need to defend us and our allies.

“This extremist culture has crept in over years and it is time for a proper shake up, designed to refocus the military on its core mission – being a lethal fighting force. I am therefore commissioning a root-and-branch, fast track review of ethnicity, diversity and inclusivity policies in defence. It is time for common sense instead of divisiveness. 

“At a time when the world faces a threat as serious as any time in the last 50 years, I can confirm that it is inconceivable that I would allow a lowering of standards on security clearance.”

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said political correctness should not “impair our ability to defend our borders”.

He said Mr Shapps would ensure the right balance is struck between making sure the military draws all the available talent available and making sure some of the more “out there” approaches people take towards diversity, equity and inclusion do not “impair our ability to defend our borders”.

He told Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips: “When you’re thinking about who should be in our military, and who should be responsible for the life-and-death actions that determine whether or not all of us can sleep safely at night, then you’ve got to make decisions about personnel and their deployment that are sharper and more acute than in other workplaces.

“Some of the policies that might apply appropriately in other workplaces would not be appropriate in the military.

“We know that there need to be levels of fitness. We know that there need to be appropriate selection criteria in making sure that we have the people whom we want defending our way of life.”

Shadow defence secretary John Healey said: “National security must always be the first priority for any government and our Armed Forces must never relax security checks for recruits.

“But from missing their own hiring targets every year to overseeing the terrible state of military housing, the forces recruitment crisis has been caused by 14 years of Conservative failure.”

An MoD spokesman said: “Our priority is protecting the national security of the United Kingdom and ensuring the operational effectiveness of our armed forces.

“We take security extremely seriously and ensure that all personnel have the appropriate security clearance, which is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”

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