Boris Johnson’s approach to the culture war is to wait for the other side to overreach – talk of taking down Churchill’s statue, no singing of Rule Britannia at the Proms – then pile in. So, today he has waded into the row about the BBC’s decision to only have instrumental versions of Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory at the last night of the Proms this year, declaring that ‘it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions, and about our culture, and we stopped this general fight of self-recrimination and wetness.’
The advantage of this approach for him is that he only weighs in when the vast majority of the public agree with him; the number of people who want to remove Churchill’s statue from Parliament Square or end the singing of Rule Britannia is small. It allows him to come across as the tribune of common sense. But what some of his own side worry about is that this is a purely defensive approach. It, by definition, only knocks back the most extreme ideas of the woke left. It does not change the terms of debate.
I suspect, though, that Boris Johnson will stick with this strategy. It makes the politics far easier for him as he is defending positions backed by a large majority of the population rather than trying to shift public opinion. Also given the excesses of the woke left, this approach still means that he gets to play an active role in this debate, so helping to shore up the Tory vote.
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