The Daily Telegraph

Snowflakes are killing comedy, said Culture Secretary Dorries

- By Christophe­r Hope Chief Political Correspond­ent

A CONSERVATI­VE MP who once said that “Left-wing snowflakes are killing comedy” and took aim at the “hypocritic­al” BBC is the new Culture Secretary.

Boris Johnson moved Nadine Dorries from a junior position in the Department of Health and Social Care to a plum job in the Cabinet as Culture, Media and Sport Secretary.

Ms Dorries sparked a reaction when, after Christmas Day in 2017, she posted a message on Twitter in which she took aim at large swathes of the Left.

She retweeted a story highlighti­ng how then-higher education minister Jo Johnson was concerned that students were drawing up lists of “trigger words” and demanding that books containing them were stripped from university libraries. She then wrote: “Left-wing snowflakes are killing comedy, tearing down historic statues, removing books from universiti­es, dumbing down panto, removing Christ from Christmas and suppressin­g free speech.”

After being criticised by Left-wing commentato­rs online, Ms Dorries urged respondent­s to speak to Christophe­r Biggins, “the king of panto, not me”.

She then posted a Daily Telegraph article from the same day in which Biggins had attacked a theatre company for toning down jokes in a Christmas pantomime.

Biggins, who was at the time starring in Aladdin in Richmond, said: “The whole thing is ridiculous and is getting out of hand... it’s a joke.”

Last year, Ms Dorries turned her attention to the BBC, describing it as favouring “strident, very Left-wing, often hypocritic­al and frequently patronisin­g views that turn people away”. Ms Dorries’s appointmen­t was greeted with some scepticism by Bectu, the union representi­ng creative workers, which said: “Dorries should support our world-class institutio­ns, instead of stoking divisive culture wars.”

Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, Bectu’s parent union, added: “The new Culture Secretary needs to focus more on supporting our cultural industries and less on stoking divisive culture wars.”

Ms Dorries has forged a lucrative career as a novelist alongside her duties as MP for Mid Bedfordshi­re, submitting three books in advance of joining Mr Johnson’s Government for the first time in July 2019.

She told The Telegraph in January last year she liked to write while working as a minister “between 6.30am and 7.30am”, saying: “I still write 1,000 words every day, and I always will.”

Last night, it emerged that Ms Dorries had admitted in 2010 that her blog was “70 per cent fiction” to reassure constituen­ts about how hard she was working. Ms Dorries made the admission to investigat­ors during a sleaze investigat­ion that cleared her of abusing the Commons expenses system but found she had “misled” voters.

She had been accused of wrongly declaring her constituen­cy property as her second home, even though it was thought she spent most of her time there.

The arrangemen­t meant she was entitled to allowances worth £24,000 a year to fund the property.

However, John Lyon, standards commission­er at the time, concluded that the MP had not breached the rules because she was actually spending the majority of her time in the Cotswolds.

In one blog, from May 15 2009, Ms Dorries informed readers her daughter was going to school there. The MP told the commission­er: “My blog is 70 per cent fiction and 30 per cent fact. It is written as a tool to enable my constituen­ts to know me better and to reassure them of my commitment to Mid Bedfordshi­re.

“I rely heavily on poetic licence and frequently replace one place name/ event/fact with another.”

In 2013, she criticised plans to legalise same-sex marriage, writing on Twitter: “If the gay marriage bill takes sex out of marriage, could a sister marry a sister to avoid inheritanc­e tax?”

‘The new Culture Secretary needs to focus more on our cultural industries and less on stoking culture wars’

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