Common Sense Champion: Kemi Badenoch

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Mark Lehain
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This week’s Common Sense Champion is Kemi Badenoch – MP for Saffron Walden, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, and also Equalities Minister.

There are a good number of ways that she has made a difference to common sense and fair play – including her criticisms of critical race theory, Black Lives Matter, and unconscious bias training. It’s made her some powerful enemies – hence the recent coordinated attacks on her from activists –  so it feels like a good opportunity to reflect on the positive impact she has made for the better.

Kemi was a member of the London Assembly from 2015 until she became an MP in 2017. Prior to this she worked in IT, in financial services and then at the Spectator magazine. Upon entering parliament she quickly made her mark, and was appointed a minister by Boris Johnson when he became Prime Minister in July 2019.

It is very clear from public comments that Kemi does not buy into the worldview held by much of the “liberal elite” – that the UK is a harsh place to live if you are anything other than a middle-class white man. Being a young(ish) black woman who spent much of her childhood in Nigeria and the USA, race activists don’t quite know how to handle it when she argues that “actually this is one of the best countries in the world to be a black person” 

And they hate it even more when she goes out of her way to attack “critical race theory” and other tenets of the “social justice” or “woke” movement. Her words in parliament during a debate on Black History Month were a breath of fresh air for anyone worried about the way that divisive ideas have spread unchecked through public life, including our schools:

BANG“I want to be absolutely clear that the Government stands unequivocally against critical race theory. Some schools have decided to openly support the anti-capitalist Black Lives Matter group, often fully aware that they have a statutory duty to be politically impartial.”

CRASH“Lots of pernicious stuff is being pushed, and we stand against that. We do not want teachers to teach their white pupils about white privilege and inherited racial guilt.”

WALLOP“Let me be clear that any school that teaches those elements of critical race theory as fact, or that promotes partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views, is breaking the law.”

There was uproar from those who make a living pushing such things, but Badenoch didn’t flinch, doubling down in an interview with the Spectator magazine a short time later – with comments like this:

“I’d go further and say this is the best country,’ she says. ‘I’ve lived in the US, I’ve lived in Nigeria, so I feel like I’ve got some context to compare. I look at South Africa and look around Europe and ask: are those places better to be black than the UK? I don’t think so. It doesn’t mean everything is perfect… But if as a politician, especially a black politician, I don’t say this, who will?”

So it’s not surprising that she has become a target for radical race activists.

Where they see grievance and victimhood, Badenoch sees positivity and progress. Where they are driven by a quasi-religious belief in hidden and systemic racism, she demands evidence and analysis of disparities, so the genuine causes can be understood and addressed.

The recent targeting of Badenoch by a Huffington Post journalist is indicative of the kind of special attention she and other non-white public figures receive when they refuse to buy into the woke faith. This article by Neil O’Brien – outlining the kind of racism black and Asian conservatives face from so-called “anti-racists” – is as depressing as it is infuriating.

However, the attacks she faces also reveal the fear that she strikes in her opponents. They sense that they are starting to lose their grip over the narrative and that what Badenoch says is resonating with growing numbers of people.

So there will be more coordinated criticisms against her but we are confident that she will stand her ground. And so for her bravery, eloquence, and persistence we think that Kemi is an excellent example of a Common Sense Champion.

Mark Lehain


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