SARAH VINE: Oh please don't go all frothy and woke on us now, Boris

SARAH VINE: Oh please don’t go all frothy and woke on us now, Boris

Like many of my generation, I feel conflicted about this brave new woke world of ours. For example, when it comes to the trans debate, of course I want trans people to feel valued and secure in their lives. Why ever would I not?

Equally, I don’t see why this has to happen at the expense of others, most notably women and impressionable young children who might make irreversible decisions they could later regret.

Similarly, when it comes to footballers taking the knee, I get that they want to make a statement about eradicating racism, and I’m all in favour of that, too.

But I also find the way that anyone who doesn’t want to take part – perhaps because they are uncomfortable with the association with Black Lives Matter, which in America is a radical organisation with some highly dubious methods – gets branded as racist deeply unfair.

 Boris Johnson kicked off with the kind of statement that made me wonder whether he’d hired Greta Thunberg as a speechwriter

So often, it seems, wokeness is just replacing one form of obnoxiousness with another, all – ironically – in the name of tolerance.

This just doesn’t make sense. Tolerance is about understanding and respecting the ideas of people you don’t agree with, not threatening to ruin their lives if they don’t agree with you.

To me, that is in essence what wokeness signifies – and why I find so much of it exasperating. And why I think that, where appropriate and reasonable, it’s important to push back.

So I was a little concerned when, in his address at the G7, Boris Johnson kicked off with the kind of statement that made me wonder whether he’d hired Greta Thunberg as a speechwriter.

Appealing to his fellow leaders, he urged them to ‘level up’ by avoiding the mistakes made following the credit crunch of 2008, and expressed his passion for ‘building back greener and building back fairer and building back more equal and in a more gender-neutral and, perhaps a more feminine way’.

As my daughter would say, ‘Sorry love?’ For a start, it doesn’t make sense. You can’t be both more feminine and more gender-neutral. It’s kind of an either/or situation.

But also, et tu Boris? I would have thought that you, of all people, would be the last person to succumb to this kind of frothy-headed nonsense.

Appealing to his fellow leaders, he urged them to ‘level up’ by avoiding the mistakes made following the credit crunch of 2008

Because make no mistake, this is textbook woke-speak. It expresses a variety of positive, empowering-sounding intentions, but it doesn’t actually say anything useful or concrete.

That is not the Boris we know and love and elected with a stonking majority. That Boris does not mince his words and, perhaps more importantly, that Boris gets stuff done. 

Hard stuff, such as Brexit and a vaccine rollout programme. He’s a man of intergalactic ambition and appetites, and that’s why people like him. If the country wanted some lily-livered appeaser, they’d elect Keir Starmer.

Of course it would be lovely if everything could be sunshine and rainbows. But that’s all a bit of a way off because we are by no means out of this crisis. Britain needs a strong leader capable of making tough decisions.

But perhaps more importantly, it needs a leader who stands up for common sense, who doesn’t buy into this narrative that Britain is a horrible hellhole, who doesn’t make the vast majority of good, ordinary people feel bad for not flagellating themselves day and night in pursuit of cultural purification.

Of all the Prime Ministers this nation has ever had, Boris probably more than any other represents the right to individual freedom, both in action, thought and expression.

He has always been someone who has pushed the boundaries of an argument, who has never been afraid to stand up to a mob.

The fact that even he now feels he has to dance attendance on the woke brigade is, to my mind at least, concerning. Let’s hope it’s just a passing fancy.

If the British Army wasn’t already a laughing stock for its ‘Me me millennial’ poster campaign in 2019, now it’s sealed the deal by saying that recruits can skip training if they feel a cold coming on. 

Not sure what the point is of a soldier who can’t even fight off a sniffle, but I’m guessing Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping think it’s a brilliant idea.

If you extrapolate to its conclusion Harry’s decision to take legal action against the BBC for saying he didn’t get permission from the Queen before naming his daughter Lilibet, it might see him dragging his gran through the courts as a witness. Surely he can’t be that far gone?

Price of ignoring online porn

This week’s Ofsted report on sexual harassment in schools was grim reading. Behaviours unthinkable in my day have become ‘normalised’. 

Rape jokes, up-skirting, the sharing of explicit photos, lewd conduct in class are routine; and more and more young girls are being asked – or in some cases forced – to perform extreme sex acts. 

The reason for this is quite simple to my mind: online pornography. Talk to any teenage girl and they all say the same thing: boys watch hardcore material from a very young age – in some cases while still at primary school – and it informs the way they not only view girls, but also how they see sex. 

Pornography is a world that humiliates and violates women yet successive governments have refused to do anything about it. Now we see the outcome: an entire generation corrupted and young people who maybe will never know the joy of ordinary, healthy relationships. 

Society wife swap

Manhattan socialite twins Cecilia (left) and Charlotte Bonstrom (right), 50, have seemingly swapped husbands

It’s a high-class version of Wife Swap: Manhattan socialite twins Charlotte and Cecilia Bonstrom, 50, have seemingly swapped husbands – one a fashion house founder and the other an upmarket restaurateur. All very odd, not to mention a tad incestuous.

Although given how alike the sisters look, it might just be an embarrassing case of mistaken identity.

If nothing else comes out of the G7, surely the one thing the leaders of the free world can agree on is that there has to be an immediate cessation to the ridiculous elbow bump greeting. They all look like utter plonkers. Well, even more like utter plonkers…

Favourite G7 picture: the Duchess of Cornwall clutching a veritable vat of red wine while listening to the ocean-going bore that is Emmanuel Macron. Waiter!

No crime like the present

As someone who was once tasked by Cabinet with choosing a leaving present for Theresa May after she resigned as PM, I know diplomatic gifting can be a minefield.

That said, the fact the American people gave our Prime Minister a custom-made bicycle, while all we could manage was a photocopy of a picture off the internet, is unforgivable. 

Even a bunch of petrol station flowers and a box of Celebrations would have been better.

Is it just me, or does one get the impression that, after a few months that would have tried the patience of a saint, the Queen has finally had enough?

First, she tells the leaders of the G7 not to be so po-faced (‘Are you supposed to look as if you’re enjoying yourself?’); then, tasked with the fairly routine (for her) job of cutting a cake, she goes at it with a massive ceremonial sword on account of it being ‘more unusual’.

Unusual? Since when has the Queen done anything unusual?

If this is the kind of mood she’s in, I can’t wait for Prince Harry’s next visit.

Spotted in Carbis Bay: an Extinction Rebellion protester wearing a football shirt emblazoned with ‘Fly Emirates’. And they say irony is dead.

The economy is bouncing back, according to figures which show GDP only 3.7 per cent below its pre-pandemic peak. 

I’m not surprised: A friend recently tried to book a weekend away in a perfectly nice but not thrilling hotel in Cornwall: £900 a night, he was told. Is that why the Government seems determined to make it impossible to ever go abroad again? 

Child marriage is despicable, so well done to Sajid Javid for his Bill calling for the minimum legal age for weddings to rise to 18. 

I’d go one step further, and do something concrete to discourage unions between first cousins. 

A study into child deaths in Bradford showed twice the risk of death from genetic and congenital abnormalities.

My Labour council (Hammersmith & Fulham) has decided to stop cutting the grass in my local park on the grounds that ‘it encourages bees and insects’. It also encourages hidden dog mess and other horrors. 

Why do I get the impression this is less about wildlife and more about skimping on basic public services?

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