UK's Truss takes heat over ‘insulting’ Jewish comments
The British foreign secretary and the Conservative Party leadership favorite, Liz Truss, has earned a scathing rebuke from the FDA union representing senior civil and public servants, after she vowed to “protect British Jewry” from “creeping antisemitism” and “woke culture” in the civil service. The FDA general secretary, Dave Penman, called her remarks “insulting” and showing “a lack of leadership.”
“The Conservatives have been in government for more than 12 years now and, for most of that time, Liz Truss has been a minister. So, accusations of ‘civil service wokeism’ are a little ironic, given it’s essentially a criticism of their own leadership,” Penman told the British media on Friday, adding that Truss’ remarks go “further than the usual dog-whistle politics” and many civil servants find them “both insulting and abhorrent.”
Truss is currently running against former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak to succeed Boris Johnson as party leader and prime minister of the UK. Last week, she was reportedly polling 26 points ahead of her competitor. Yet, according to Penman, her recent statements show she might not exactly fit the job.
“A prime minister is also minister for the civil service,” he said, adding that leveling “unfounded inflammatory accusations” demonstrates a lack of leadership. Such harsh criticism has been sparked by a written statement Truss made following her speech at a Manchester synagogue. There, she blasted the “woke” civil service culture that supposedly “strays into anti-Semitism” while praising the “Jewish values” she said were “Conservative values and British values too.”
“Every organization has its culture, but it’s not fixed, it can be changed,” she said in the statement. Truss also vowed to check if schools are doing enough to educate students and teachers about anti-Semitism and said that universities should be “ridded” of that issue as well, according to her team. According to Penman, though, the foreign secretary failed to provide a single example of anti-Semitism among the civil servants.
A source within her Conservative leadership campaign team also told the British media that the Labour Party had become a “talking shop for anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism” under the leadership of Sir Keir Starmer and, previously, Jeremy Corbyn. “This has increased anxieties within the Jewish community,” the source added.
The “anti-Semitism” rhetoric used by Truss and her team drew the ire of Labour MPs, the British media report. Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols said the foreign secretary was “using the Jewish community as spurious pretext for another baseless attack on the civil service.”
Another Labour MP, Sarah Owen, stated that Truss just used the narrative to “peddle [her] anti-‘woke’ war against civil servants,” adding that it was “not a solution” that Truss seeks.
Truss, who is otherwise known for her support of Thatcher-like spending cuts at home and harsh opposition to Russia abroad, also apparently seeks closer ties between the UK and Israel. Last week, she vowed to “review” the issue of moving the British embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.