Lee Anderson’s inaccurate ‘woke cabal’ Express column mocked

‘Tory uses Tory newspaper to lecture its readership about perceived lecturing.’


Lee Anderson’s recent column in the Express was a shocker, even by the low standards of the culture-war stoking right-wing tabloid.

‘Lee Anderson: We’re sick of ‘woke cabal’ lecturing us,’ was the headline, which secured a spot on the right-wing newspaper’s front page. In the article, the Tory party deputy chairman lashed out at left-wing lawyers and charities. He said he was angry at the ‘thousands of supposed ‘refugees’ who arrive on our shores looking for a handout.’ He was angry at the ‘army of leftie lawyers and bleeding-heart charities who line up ready to block the government at every turn.’

“Brits are sick to the back teeth of listening to this woke cabal lecture us on why we should willingly bend over backwards to accommodate these economic chancers.

“We’re already spending £7million a day to put them up in hotels, while Sir Keir’s left-wing lawyer chums file endless legal claims to keep them living the life of Riley.

“Why should these people benefit from four-star hotel accommodation and taxpayer-funded meals, while families have to graft just to get by?” said the MP for Ashfield and GB News’ host.

Like many of Lee Anderson’s controversial comments, which have included dismissing widespread food bank use and criticising the England men’s football team for taking the knee in protest at racism, his ‘woke cabal’ insult in the Express evoked plenty of criticism.

“Tory uses Tory newspaper to lecture its readership about perceived lecturing,” wrote one bemused reader.

“Getting fed up with Anderson and the rest of the clingCons blaming everyone else for their failed immigration policy…” was another comment.

The accuracy of the statement “we’re already spending £7 million a day to put them up in hotels,” has also been called into question. Fact checkers Full Fact note how, as the column refers to “asylum seekers”, “illegal immigrants” and “economic chancers,” it is not clear exactly which group Anderson is claiming £7 million a day is being spent on housing in hotels. If he is referring to asylum seekers, or a specific group of asylum seekers (such as those who arrived in the UK via small boat), the £7 million figure is higher than the cost given by the Home Office of housing asylum seekers in hotels, inform the fact checkers, whom the Home Office told: “There are currently more than 51,000 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £6 million a day.”

The article is Anderson’s – and the Express’s – latest attack on ‘woke’ culture. Earlier this year, the MP famously said the Tories will fight the election on ‘trans debate and culture wars.’ Prior to his promotion to party deputy chairman, Anderson said the Tories relied on Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn to win votes in 2019 but does not hold those cards for the next general election. 

Targeting refugees, the MP’s column is also another example of the Right using culture wars to seemingly demonise migrants and asylum seekers. Earlier this year, the home secretary Suella Braverman used similar dehumanising language, referring to migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats as an ‘invasion.’

The comments were widely criticised. Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the rhetoric had deteriorated in line with the government’s performance.

“No home secretary who was serious about public safety or national security would use highly inflammatory language on the day after a dangerous petrol bomb attack,” she said.

Sentiment echoed by the UK Refugee Council, which tweeted:

“To describe the serious and complex situation created by the asylum crisis as an “invasion” is appalling, wrong and dangerous. These are men, women and children fleeing war, persecution and conflict.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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