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The Tories launch a culture war

IN THE LONG-FORGOTTEN days of Cool Britannia, Downing Street was packed with left-leaning intellectuals scoffing prime ministerial canapés as Tony Blair sought to dominate not just the country’s politics but also its culture. David Cameron, like most Tories, was more interested in economics: he focused on squeezing public expenditure while hugging hoodies and huskies to blur the cultural distinction between Conservative and Labour parties.

Now the parties’ positions are reversed. Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is copying the Tories’ cultural attitudes, not fighting them. His recent address to his party conference was a paean to flag and family. The Conservatives, meanwhile, acknowledge that ceding culture to the left was a mistake: in the arts, broadcasting and higher education, Toryism is not just dead but damned.

Downing Street has let it be known that it is thinking of appointing two right-of-centre journalists, Lord (Charles) Moore and Sir Paul Dacre, to the most powerful cultural thrones in the land: chairman of the BBC and head of the media regulator, Ofcom. Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, has told museums and galleries that they could lose grants if they take down controversial statues and artefacts. The Department for Education is banning teaching materials provided by “anti-capitalist groups”. This...

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