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Whatever happened to Steve Baker’s backbone?


FOR all the fanfare presenting Tory back-bench MP Steve Baker as ‘government tormenter in-chief’, he is proving to be chief joker instead. 

He voted opposite from what he said in public on Covid-19 restrictions, making his fine words meaningless. Not only did he fail to vote against repealing the Coronavirus Act, he actually thanked Matt Hancock for saying Parliament might be allowed to debate a future national lockdown edict! 

Hard on the heels of that, on Tuesday he found himself unable to join the diminishing band of rebels he once led to vote against cancelling the absurd ‘rule of six’. 

Despite Baker’s protestations, neither the ‘concessions’ agreed in place of the Brady amendment, nor the remedy these so-called Tory rebels purported it to be, made any difference. The renewal of the Covid Emergency Powers Act swept through, with Hancock’s ominous warning that the government will ‘act with speed when required’, hinting that further draconian rules will be imposed without respecting this amendment, ringing in the public’s ears. Any ‘conceded’ debate is unlikely to make much of a difference.

The only way out of this mess would have been for Parliament to vote against renewing the Coronavirus Act and put an immediate stop to the destructive farce in which they are taking part. The silent majority aren’t interested in words, they want action. So why didn’t Baker vote according to his public protestations?

Perhaps he is distracted by his recent woke awakening. Real conservatives are in the fight of their lives to preserve freedom, tolerance and unity. Yet Baker has taken to mumbling gobbledegook about white privilege, Black Lives Matter (BLM) and racism on social media and TV. 

After being criticised on Twitter for his disastrous insinuation last week that white people are racist and don’t understand their ‘privilege’, Baker doubled down and admonished us all to ‘listen to uncomfortable truths’. But how much has he listened to those of us concerned about the anti-Semitism perpetrated by BLM and their fellow travellers, Antifa? Or the neo-Marxist ideology entrenched in the BLM movement?

Dialogue goes both ways. 

Baker blames his critics for misunderstanding him, but is sounding more like a Labour frontbencher than the sensible Tory backbencher we thought him to be.

It is indeed odd that he positions himself as the champion of the white working classes yet at the same time lambasts them for being ‘racists’ and not realising how very ‘privileged’ they are. Baker epitomises disjointed thinking by championing causes which help these dispossessed Britons yet simultaneously insults them with spurious denunciations of racism. 

He is tearing up all of his good work. He can’t position himself as a ‘moderate’ yet partake in race-baiting. Baker may think he is a unifying force but he is being divisive. Thanks to the government’s fear campaign and economic damage Britons are worried and scared. They don’t deserve to be harangued like this by Baker or anyone else.

Prioritising feelings about racism above evidence, as Baker has done, feeds the fragile, childish identity politics zealots, for whom emotion rules all and reaching the highest echelons of victimhood is a legitimate, and lucrative, goal. Is this why Baker now resembles the contemporary Tory, a post-liberal Puritan masquerading as a conservative, seeking publicity while insulting his core voters? Or is his recent woke awakening a way to distract from the fact that he capitulates and then grovels at the first opportunity when confronted by the government? That he does is such a pity; I far prefer rebels to have a bit of backbone, and be unwoke.

If Baker is the best rebel we have in Parliament then there is truly no Tory rebellion at all and the country will continue to lurch from one crisis to another, with strong words being spoken by posturing MPs as the economy crumbles and society rips apart under their watch. How disappointing that the brilliant Brexiteer has turned out to be all mouth and trousers. 

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Karen Harradine
Karen Harradine
Karen is an anthropologist and freelance journalist. She writes on anti-Semitism, Israel and spirituality. She is @KarenH777on Twitter.

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