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Wokenstein must be destroyed!

 Image: Grace Gay for Research Professional News

Ivory Tower: After the Conservative conference, we offer something from the Hammy House of Horror

[A storm rages in Manchester: rain bounces off the streets, while thunder and lightning crack above a turret room in the east wing of the Midland Hotel. In the conference suite, Minister Donelan sits at a desk, illuminated by a single lamp and surrounded by notes…]

Donelan: It’s in here somewhere, I just can’t find it…my life’s work, all I’ve strived for…if only I could see…

Spadgor: Do you want me to put on the main light?

Donelan: How long have you been standing there?

Spadgor: I was waiting in the corridor, but Nigel Farage tried to dance with me so I came inside.

Donelan: You’re not normal.

Spadgor: Bit rude, minister.

Donelan: No, you’re not one of the normal advisers from the department.

Spadgor: It’s party conference, minister, those guys are not allowed to come with you. They’ve all gone on a city break to Romania. Lovely this time of year. So, you’ve got me from central office.

Donelan: Do you know anything about science?

Spadgor: No, but I know what I reckon.

Donelan: That makes two of us.

Spadgor: Is there anything I can help you with, minister?

Donelan: I can’t find my conference speech.

Spadgor: Did you print it out?

Donelan: No, the guys in the department normally do that…Oh.

Spadgor: Is it in the cloud?

Donelan: Look, don’t you start. I don’t know much about science, but I know a mickey take when I hear one. It’s like that time Freeman and Willetts wanted me to sign off investment in a tartan paint factory, or when Dominic Cummings wanted that Aria thing.

Spadgor: You are digital minister, right?

Donelan: Do I look digital to you? I haven’t been replaced by AI.

Spadgor: I’m beginning to wonder.

Donelan: Look, I need a speech for tomorrow.

Spadgor: Well, perhaps we could…no, it’s too much…it’s against nature.

Donelan: Use one by Thérèse Coffey?

Spadgor: Nearly as bad…I was thinking of the dark arts.

Donelan: I’m not using anything from DCMS.

Spadgor: It’s something that has been done only in conference legend. We could go round the hotel picking up parts of speeches discarded by others and sew them together into a new speech.

Donelan: It would be monstrous.

Spadgor: It could be a magnificent creation.

Donelan: Ok, let’s do it. You go down to the bar and see if anyone from MI5 has left a briefcase or laptop lying about. I’ll have a rummage in the bin in the room the Number 10 policy unit were using. Meet you back here in 15 minutes.

[15 minutes later]

Donelan: Ok, what have we got? I found a whole lot of ideas discarded for being too outrageous.

Spadgor: Even for this lot? That’s saying something. Let’s take a look…“tarmac over Liverpool to provide parking for north Wales motorway extension”, “start fracking in Wembley stadium to annoy Gary Lineker”…I’m not sure how useful these will be, minister.

Donelan: What did you get, then?

Spadgor: I found a notebook from the Daily Mailograph’s science correspondent and a copy of the Fortean Times.

Donelan: Perfect, let’s get started. I’ve got some sticky tape somewhere.

[10 minutes later]

Spadgor: It’s good, but something is missing.

Donelan: It needs a spark of life. Damn, who is that knocking on the door? Can you answer that? Just get rid of them.

[Spadgor puts the chain on the door and speaks to the figure outside]

Spadgor: Good grief, is that a pitchfork?

George: Yes, I’m just on my way to the Norfolk Conservatives reception. They said to bring something emblematic of home. Is the secretary of state in?

Spadgor: No, absolutely not.

George: But I can see her behind you at the desk.

Spadgor: That’s not her. That’s a robot that’s been sent over from UKRI for a photo opp.

George: It’s uncanny.

Spadgor: I know, really hard to tell the difference.

George: Look, the secretary isn’t thinking of saying something stupid, is she?

Spadgor: You’ll really need to be more specific than that.

George: She’s not going to say something like, I’m announcing an investigation into woke science or something. Because that would be really bad and would undo all the department’s hard work to convince people we are serious about science. It would scare off foreign investors and international talent, and it would just encourage conspiracy theorists to attack scientific institutions.

Spadgor: That’s not in the speech, no.

George: Ok, I’ll leave you to it. Those flaming torch cocktails won’t drink themselves.

[Spadgor closes the door]

Donelan: Who was it?

Spadgor: Just security, asking if anyone had seen Suella Braverman’s conscience. Listen, I’ve got a great idea.

Donelan: If it’s about flying cars, I’ve heard it before.

Spadgor: No, it’s this: why don’t you announce an investigation into woke science?

[Thunder and lightning rattle the windows and the lights flicker]

Donelan: Woke science?

[Thunder and lightning rattle the windows and the lights flicker]

Donelan: Does it exist?

Spadgor: Probably.

Donelan: Are you sure?

Spadgor: Well, it exists in the same way that Labour’s meat tax and 15-minute neighbourhoods do.

Donelan: 100 per cent, then?

Spadgor: We are the party of facts.

Donelan: 110 per cent.

Spadgor: We are also the party of maths.

Donelan: We are the party of evidence!

Spadgor: Not at the Covid inquiry, we’re not.

Donelan: We are the party of scientific rigour! We are the party of Alan Turing!

Spadgor: Are we?

Donelan: The Turing Scheme, that was one of mine. Nothing woke about Alan Turing!

Spadgor: Mmmh…maybe we should talk about that one.

Donelan: We are the party of Stephen Hawking.

Spadgor: Definitely Labour.

Donelan: Of the Higgs boson.

Spadgor: Peter Higgs was a union activist.

Donelan: We are the party of Newton, of Darwin, of Lord Kelvin, of Lord of the Rings. We are the party of Patrick Moore, of David Bellamy, of Heath Robinson, of Wilf Lunn, of Quatermass and the Pit, of The Great Egg Race, Tomorrow’s World, Johnny Ball, Lesley Judd, Maggie Philbin, Michael Rodd, James Burke, Carol Vorderman—no, not Carol Vorderman—of Blake’s 7, of Gerry Anderson, of Robot Wars, The Day of the Triffids, The War of the Worlds, of Metal Mickey!

Spadgor: Are you OK, minister?

Donelan: We are standing up for these core values! For science, for reason, for double-blind peer review, for the gift shop at the Natural History Museum, for potato clocks, for balloon-powered cardboard cars, for blowing giant bubbles with washing-up liquid, for sticking a Mento in a two-litre bottle of coke, for mouldy teacups under the bed…These are all facts…scientific facts…and we are the party standing up for hardworking British facts!

We will not stand idly by and allow the health and safety elite or the slow creep of political correctness to stop any child setting fire to their school tie with a Bunsen burner. We know the difference between a man and a woman, a cat and a dog, inside and out, up and down, rich and poor, black and white, bits and bobs, Posh and Becks, Ant and Dec, Marks and Spencer, Morecambe and Wise!

Spadgor: Should I be taking notes?

Donelan: We will not allow the utter nonsense of wokeism to swamp our great British identity. We will stand up for Heinz Wolff and Michael Fish. We will be a science superpower, because we are British and we will not stand for the views of the intolerant. Woke science must be destroyed!

[Thunder and lightning rattle the windows and the lights flicker]

Donelan: Let my speech live! Throw the switch! Make 20 photocopies and submit them to the Cabinet Office for approval.

Spadgor: My God, what have we done? What is this unholy thing we have created?

Donelan: It’s alive! It’s moving! There’s no going back. We’ll need to have some sort of review, reporting to me in six months.

Spadgor: On what?

Donelan: On woke science!

[Thunder and lightning rattle the windows and the lights flicker]

Spadgor: What about census data, will that do?

Donelan: Sociology, biology, researchology, mythology, one of the ologies.

Spadgor: We are the party of facts!

Donelan: We are also the party of Toploader! Let’s go dancing in the moonlight!

[They waltz off as thunder and lightning rattle the windows]

Terms of reference: this is a free email for fun on a Friday. It should be shared far and wide, unlike a high-speed rail link in the UK. Want to provide facts for the review of woke science? [Thunder and lightning rattle the windows and the lights flicker.] Want to say hello? Email ivorytower@researchresearch.com.