Oliver dowden

Why Oliver Dowden’s resignation matters

Boris Johnson has been clear that he will not resign in the face of by-election losses. But his party chairman just has done, saying someone needs to take responsibility for losses in both and Tiverton & Honiton. Tory chairman Oliver Dowden announced he is quitting as ‘we cannot carry on with business as usual’. In his resignation letter, he says ‘our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events and I share their feelings’. Dowden does not offer an endorsement of the Prime Minister – instead saying he remains loyal to the Conservative party. No Tory MPs really believe a lack of organisation is the key factor in these two

The misguided plan to ‘retain and explain’ statues

When Mao’s Red Guards first got to work in China, they defaced statues before they tore them down. It was common to find a statue of Buddha, for example, with new signs saying: ‘Destroy the old world! Establish a new world!’ Boris Johnson’s government isn’t keen on statue removal, but it is offering a compromise. Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, has adopted a policy of ‘retain and explain’, whereby the statue remains but with a plaque giving more historical context. Explanation, it is assumed, can only be good. Yet you only have to look at the single case where ‘retain and explain’ has been deployed to see what we could

The missing link in the government’s lockdown easing

After Rishi Sunak’s attempts to kickstart the economy on Wednesday, the government has announced plans to further unwind the lockdown. From this weekend, artists and musicians can perform live outside while outdoor pools will also be opened. As of Monday, beauticians, spas, tattooists, and tanning salons can reopen. Finally those looking to work off any lockdown pounds can celebrate the news that gyms, indoor pools and leisure centres will open on 25 July. As has become the new normal, each relaxation comes with new caveats on social distancing. The announcement suggests that, as things stand, the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown is broadly going to plan. However, there are still missing parts.