LONDON: The front-runner to replace Boris Johnson as UK prime minister has been criticized for voicing “inflammatory” comments about the British civil service’s approach to the Jewish community.
Liz Truss, the favorite to take over as Conservative Party leader and head of government, accused the civil service of having a “woke culture” that “strayed into antisemitism,” according to Sky News.
“Every organization has its culture, but it’s not fixed, it can be changed,” she said in a statement after speaking at a synagogue in Manchester.
“That’s what ministerial leadership is about. It’s about making sure that the policies we represent, the values we stand for, are reflected in what we do.
“I’ve been very clear with our officials about the positions we take on Israel, and that will continue if I become prime minister.”
The current foreign secretary has also been targeted after saying that setting up your own business was a “Jewish value.”
Following a show of support at the UN Human Rights Council for Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who she called “a good friend,” Truss told the Jewish Chronicle that not enough was being done to educate children and teachers about antisemitism and that university campuses must be “ridded” of the issue.
“So many Jewish values are Conservative values and British values too. For example, seeing the importance of family and always taking steps to protect the family unit, and the value of hard work and self-starting and setting up your own business,” she said.
“The British Jewish community is incredibly proud of this country and so are Conservatives.”
Her comments have been described as “inflammatory, insulting and abhorrent” by the FDA Union, which represents British civil servants.
Truss provided “no evidence for her accusation,” according to FDA general secretary Dave Penman, who said Truss’ comments went “further than the usual dog-whistle politics” of the ongoing Conservative leadership election.
“The Conservatives have been in government for more than 12 years now and for most of that time Liz Truss has been a minister,” he said. “So accusations of ‘civil service wokeism’ are a little ironic, given it’s essentially a criticism of their own leadership.”
He continued: “A prime minister is also minister for the civil service, and throwing around such unfounded inflammatory accusations illustrates a lack of leadership, the very thing that she claims to be demonstrating.”
Her remarks have also been criticized by the British Jewish community, including a Jewish Labour Party member of parliament.
Charlotte Nichols, an MP in the north of England, accused Truss of “using the Jewish community as spurious pretext for another baseless attack on the civil service.”
Fellow Labour MP, Sarah Owen, said on Twitter: “Using the serious issue of antisemitism in schools and universities to peddle your anti ‘woke’ war against civil servants is not the solution you think it is.
“Either you’re woke — simply alert to social injustice and inequality (including antisemitism) — or you're not.”