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The Government Continues its Hard-Right Cultural Agenda

The Government Continues its Hard-Right Cultural Agenda

Categories: Latest News

Monday October 25 2021

The UK Government has recently appointed two individuals considered to be right-wing to important cultural institutions. These appointments are another element of the Government’s concerning pursuit of a hard-right agenda.

One of the foremost criticisms of these recent appointments is that there is potential bias, rather a consideration of merit or suitability. Inaya Folarin Iman, a GBNews presenter, has been appointed a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery. The problematic nature of Folarin Iman’s appointment includes her role as founding director of the Free Speech Union alongside other far-right inclined individuals such as Douglas Murray, as well as her statements openly criticising the Black Lives Matter movement, which Folarin Iman has described as a ‘pseudo-radical movement’.

In addition to Folarin Iman’s appointment, another GB News presenter, Mercy Muroki, has been appointed a trustee of the Museum of the Home. Much like Folarin Iman, Muroki’s far-right sentiments are alarming for someone in public service. Muroki, who is described as ‘Unashamedly Conservative’, was one of the commissioners of the Race and Ethnic Disparities report which concluded that there was no institutional racism in the UK.

Ultimately, there appears to be a lack of consideration for what implications these appointments can have such as the potential increase of racist and Islamophobic sentiments, evidenced by the associations that Folarin Iman and Muroki have with wider far-right networks, including GB News. This demonstrates the Government’s continued promotion of right-wing sentiments within public bodies.

Such appointments form a part of the UK Government’s wider web of concerning and right-wing leaning appointments. One such being the appointment of Nadine Dorries as the Culture Secretary who is well-known for spreading Islamophobic rhetoric and misinformation shared by far-right and Islamophobic sources. Such misinformation includes posts by Islamophobes such as Tommy Robinson and far-right groups such as ‘For Britain’. Just as concerningly are Dorries’ thoughts on Boris Johnson calling Muslim women who wear the burka as ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes’. Dorries commented that Johnson should have gone so far as to call for a ban on the burka and that women who chose to wear the burka do so out of force, to cover up their ‘bruises’.

With this history of Islamophobia and racism, Dorries has been appointed to one of the most important cabinet positions which has influence across cultural institutions such as libraries, sports and museums. As Culture Secretary, Dorries will also oversee media and broadcasting – both crucial to Muslim communities who continue to experience the damages of misrepresentation and stereotyping in the media. However, Dorries’ appointment and right-wing affiliations means that any such improvements to media reporting of Muslims will be highly unlikely.

The Government’s hard-right stance is also manifested in changes to policy such as the proposed review of the Human Rights Act (1998), with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggesting at that the Government will overhaul the Human Rights Act (HRA) to prevent abuse of the justice system. The proposed review and potential overhaul of the HRA have been heavily criticised by civil activists, as the HRA provides crucial protections and rights to minority communities – such as being able to challenge the Government in the event of discrimination. In addition, the review has been criticised for displaying ‘populist zeal’ by politicising human rights. Hence, those that will be impacted by this right wing agenda will be minority communities who continue to face discrimination and racism in public spheres, and who rely on avenues like the HRA for justice.

MEND therefore calls upon the Government to make appointments to important and influential positions with impartiality, whilst also considering the implications of appointing Ministers to crucial cabinet positions with Islamophobic and racist histories. MEND also calls upon the Government to turn away from politicising human rights and continue protections like the Human Rights Act.

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