Penny Mordaunt Pushes for Removal of ‘Woke’ Language in Whitehall

Penny Mordaunt has urged Whitehall to abandon ‘woke’ language in official documents, sparking debates over the role of gender neutrality and biological distinctions in public discourse. Here’s the full story.

More Secure Ground

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The Conservative government, devoid of any real progress on the economy, their Rwanda policy or the cost of living crisis and beset by scandals which run the gamut from accusations of racism to potential corruption, has recently tried to pivot to more secure ground before the upcoming election. 

Doubling Down

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The decision to double down on culture war issues, which has little real-life impact on the citizens they are in charge of governing, does help to create a lot of noise and some friendly headlines from the country’s predominantly right-wing newspapers. 

“Woke” Language

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One such recent example is Penny Mordaunt, the House of Commons leader, who recently urged Whitehall authorities to eschew what she terms “woke” language in official documents. 

Gender-Neutral Language

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This move, though unsurprising, was seen as an attempt for the government and public bodies to distance themselves from the trend of gender-neutral language. 

Ulterior Motives

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However, the move has sparked debate and criticism and led to some suggestions that Mordaunt’s motivations may not be entirely innocent.

“People of One Sex”

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In a letter addressed to Whitehall chiefs, Mordaunt stressed the importance of using language that accurately reflects biological sex in areas that are “concerned only or mainly with people of one sex.”

Mother or Father

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One example given was the use of more conformist language in place of its “gender neutral” counterparts, such as saying mother or father instead of parent. 

All Departments

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Mordaunt advised Whitehall and other government organizations, such as the Office for National Statistics, that this change should apply to all departments.

“Huge Progress”

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She stressed that while the “huge progress” made in gender equality is commendable, it’s essential to avoid substituting gender-neutral terms for those that specifically denote biological sex.

“Biological Sex is Highly Relevant”

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Mordaunt advised, “There are a great many contexts in which a person’s biological sex is highly relevant and, in these circumstances, gender-neutral language should be avoided.”

Pregnancy and Women’s Health

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Mordaunt’s directive stated that gender-neutral language should not replace terms like “woman” in contexts highly relevant to biological sex, such as pregnancy or women’s health. 

Excessive Political Correctness

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Allies of Mordaunt have interpreted her directive as a call to refrain from what they see as excessive political correctness, a frequent bugbear of Conservative politicians. 

Growing Discontent

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Her move to censor “woke” language in government documents follows mounting discontent among Conservative MPs regarding the proliferation of “woke” language within public institutions.

“Pernicious Political Correctness”

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Just recently, former minister Sir John Hayes urged for measures to address what he described as the detrimental impact of “pernicious political correctness” in public spheres.

Official Vocabulary 

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Hayes had previously criticized the Environment Agency for what he saw as overstepping the mark after removing terms like “mother” and “father” from their official vocabulary in documents. 

“It Sounds Like Nonsense”

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Hayes was predictably apocalyptic in his reaction to the move, stating, “It sounds like nonsense, but it is actually much more sinister. Free speech is at stake.”


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Following Mordaunts’ move to censor “woke” language, Hayes expressed his support for the decision, stating, “It is really important that we send out a signal that the hundreds of public bodies funded by the taxpayer should not be pandering to the predilections of an out-of-touch minority.”

Growing Suspicions

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However, some within the Conservative Party, riven by factional infighting in the face of a widely predicted electoral wipeout in May, have viewed Mordaunts recent moves as suspicious. 

Too “Woke”

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In her previous campaign for the Tory leadership, against Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, Mordaunt had been criticized by some in her party for being too “woke.”

Stoking the Fire

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Sceptics within the Tory party see these recent moves to stoke the fires of the culture war as a politically opportunistic way to best place herself for a potential leadership election should the party be voted out of government in the Autumn. 

Possible Leadership Candidate

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The sceptics may have been right to be suspicious. Recently, the Daily Telegraph reported that Mordaunt had been travelling the length and breadth of the country to visit Conservative associations, which many took as her trying to promote herself as a possible leadership candidate. 

“The Threat of a Labour Government”

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However, Mordaunt attempted to justify her decision, writing to the newspaper to stress, “My motivation for doing so is straightforward: to support the campaign frontline against the threat of a Labour government.”

Currying Favor

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Despite her explanation, Mordaunt’s critics view her recent trips to the Conservative associations as an attempt to curry favour with conservative factions within the party, particularly in light of her previous alignment with more progressive stances. 

Losing Battle

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Penny Mordaunt’s call for Whitehall to abandon “woke” language in official documents marks a notable departure from her previously stated beliefs around more progressive issues, which ultimately lost her the last leadership election. 

Political Maneuvers

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It remains to be seen whether she is driven by concern for clarity and accuracy in language or whether her recent statements on “woke” culture are a calculated piece of political maneuvering.

The post Penny Mordaunt Pushes for Removal of ‘Woke’ Language in Whitehall first appeared on Swift Feed.

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