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Nadine Dorries fires back after row with BBC’s Kuenssberg – cancel culture is everywhere

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Nadine Dorris, who was appointed culture secretary in September, said social media had been “hijacked” by the left and blamed online campaigners for frightening young people “who actually do want to engage” in proper discussions.

Speaking to the BBC, she claimed cancel culture was all over the place – online and offline.

Social media, she said, “contributes” to a censured and scrutinised society. “Sometimes I think we just need to tone down the condemnation and the judgement and evaluate and engage a little bit more than we do.

“People are afraid because of the amplification in the echo chambers of social media.”

Touching upon memorials about disputed aspects of history being removed, she said: “You can’t, with this whole cancel culture, wipe it all out like it didn’t happen and pretend it didn’t exist.

“You can’t wipe away our history, either the good or the bad.”

Ms Dorries, a loyal ally of prime minister Boris Johnson, was accused of “policing” the BBC as she challenged the broadcaster’s political editor Ms Kuenssberg on Wednesday evening over a tweet on the views of an MP angered by Mr Johnson’s handling of the Owen Paterson scandal.

Mr Kuenssberg reported the MP — whose name she did not reveal — had described Mr Johnson as looking and sounding “weak” at a meeting that evening and had claimed his “authority is evaporating”.

Ms Dorries responded to this on Twitter: “Laura, I very much like and respect you, but we both know that text is ridiculous.

“Although nowhere near as ridiculous as the person – obviously totally desperate for your attention – who sent it.”

Ms Dorris, as culture secretary, is in charge of setting the price of a BBC TV licence for the next five years.

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Her involvement on social media was thus dubbed “inappropriate” and labelled by some as a bid to put pressure on the broadcaster’s news coverage while taking advantage of the financial power her post grants her.

Jo Stevens, the shadow culture secretary, raised the issue in the House of Commons on Thursday, saying: “We have spent much of the past two weeks talking about standards in public office, and on this side of the House we care deeply about the independence and the impartiality of the BBC.

“I know the Secretary of State also cares to the extent that she actually has the time to police the BBC’s political editor’s tweets and publicly rebuke her.

“But would she agree with me that it would be highly inappropriate for a government minister overseeing licence fee negotiations to seek to influence editorial decisions, including how the Prime Minister was interviewed, and using the threat of BBC licence fee funding whilst doing so?”

Ms Dorries said: “I did not rebuke Laura Kuenssberg, somebody who is maybe … the best in the business.

“The tweet was completely misinterpreted.

“I was not rebuking Laura Kuenssberg and never would.”

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