What is ‘Britain Uncancelled’, the new Tory campaign group looking to ‘cancel cancel culture’?

From left, Ben Bradley, a white man with short, spiky black hair; Esther McVey, a white woman with long blonde hair; Brendan Clarke-Smith, a white man with short black hair.

Ben Bradley, Esther McVey, and Brendan Clarke-Smith

UK Parliament

In a phenomenal oxymoron, a new campaign has been set up with the aim of ‘cancelling cancel culture’, something the project describes as “breeding fear and paranoia in our workplaces, politics … at our children’s schools and even in our homes”.

According to their official website, Britain Uncancelled – yes, really – was launched on 11 October and is “opposed to cancel culture in all forms”.

“An intolerant minority of politically motivated campaigners are trying to shut down debates and cancel the views of people they disagree with, and their voice is getting louder because of the platform they’re being given by the mainstream media and big corporations.  This is how mobs operate.

“This small minority seeks to divide, rather than unite us, by inflicting their discriminatory opinions on the rest of us, by trashing Britishness and British heritage, toppling statues and flag shaming.  We should learn from history, not change or erase it,” they write in a blog post.

People can go to their website and support their pledge, making a commitment to “end cancel culture”, “protect free speech” and “promote the British values of mutual respect, fairness, open-mindedness and tolerance”.

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And if that still isn’t enough, you can sign up to produce creative content, host fundraisers or take part in a “social media blitz” – essentially, the same kind of social media usage which cancel culture critics usually moan about when they’re held accountable.

You can also register your interest in buying a t-shirt with the word “uncancelled” on the front, to truly “look the part”.

At this point, we’ve realised we’ve used ‘they’ a lot in this article. So who exactly is behind this new campaign waging an unnecessary culture war?

The consultant

Barker Strategy, according to its website, was founded in 2019 and “provides insight and advice to deliver winning campaigns and the right results for our clients on strategy, communications and messaging”.

Its founder is Ed Barker, former saxophonist for George Michael (yes, really) and the Tories’ candidate for Derby South in the 2019 general election.

He faced criticism for “dirty tricks” during the contest when he bought a fake website in the name of Labour’s Margaret Beckett.

Not exactly the “British value of mutual respect”, is it, Ed?

Then there was the time he told people not to switch to TalkTalk:

And in another incredible contradiction, hustings in Derby Cathedral were reportedly cancelled – yes, we said that word – because the Conservative candidate declined to take part, according to Ms Beckett.

In other words, Ed deplatformed himself.

The supporters

Esther McVey, former work and pensions secretary, is one of the campaign’s supporters. Ms McVey also worked closely with Mr Barker, saying he was “instrumental to so many of my campaigns”.

It’s the same Esther McVey who suggested Lorraine Kelly’s awkward conversation about her on Good Morning Britain in 2019 was down to “professional jealousy”.

When the Tatton MP shared the news on Twitter that she backed Britain Uncancelled, adding “it’s time to cancel Cancel Culture”, she was duly roasted:

Ben Bradley, Mansfield MP and leader of Nottinghamshire, came under fire for tweets about free school meals in October 2020. He responded to another user on the platform who wrote, “£20 cash direct to a crack den and brothel really sounds like the way forward with this one”.

“That’s what FSM [free school meal] vouchers in the summer effectively did,” Bradley replied.

At this point we’re starting to think that Britain Uncancelled’s supporters just don’t like being held accountable, which is kind of a big part of being an MP.

The announcement didn’t go well on Twitter when people alleged that the admins on his Facebook page ban certain commenters:

And as one user put it:

Completing the roundup of just three MPs who are listed as supporters on social media is Bassetlaw MP Brendan Clarke-Smith, the cheery fellow who compared footballers taking the knee as an anti-racist gesture to Nazi salutes:

He was also criticised in January for accepting a coronavirus vaccine ahead of clinically vulnerable people.

Uncancelled Cancellation

Finally, in a thread criticising Nadine Dorries for “a history of funding cancel culture” and her Online Safety Bill, it looks like Britain Uncancelled are, themselves, cancelling someone:

Now we’re off to have a lie down. The death of irony is making our heads hurt.

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