Up to 40 Conservative MPs are to refuse unconscious bias training launched to tackle racism in the House of Commons, according to insiders.
Accusing parliamentary authorities of “pandering” to the agenda of Black Lives Matter (BLM), MPs in the right-leaning European Research Group and “Common Sense Group” of MPs “said most of their colleagues would not take part”, The Times reports.
One anonymous MP told the newspaper that “I would really rather gouge my eyes out with a blunt stick than sit through that Marxist, snake oil crap”.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt argued that his constituents would not “want me to waste two hours on a pointless unconscious bias session that will have no effectiveness whatsoever”.
Ben Bradley, Tory MP for Mansfield, has also said that he will not take part, and has called on his colleagues to “take the same stand”. In an article on the Conservative Home website last week, Bradley vowed to resist the imposition of “woke” values by BLM, adding that his party “should be unabashed in our cultural conservatism”.
As The Independent reports, Bradley has previously described BLM as a “divisive” movement, arguing that “when you start to push everyone to identify themselves by the colour of their skin, that is not a good thing”.
The training has been available for parliamentary staff since 2016 and is now being extended to MPs following multiple allegations of racism and sexism in the Commons.
Labour has already introduced unconscious bias training for all its staff, after Keir Starmer was criticised earlier this year for referring to the BLM campaign as a “moment”.
According to the Daily Mail, Parliament has paid £7,000 to the Challenge Consultancy to design the training for MPs. The London-based company reportedly “uses a giant blue puppet called UB” as part of the course and says that clients who have undertaken similar training include “people managers at the BBC”, as well as Bafta and Oscar judges.
In total, Challenge Consultancy “has raked in nearly £800,000 from Parliament for conduct lessons”, the newspaper adds.