Defence minister defends military’s ‘woke’ policies as necessary to represent modern society

Andrew Murrison
Andrew Murrison: 'We take security extremely seriously' - Phil Noble/AFP via Getty Images

A government minister has defended the military’s “woke” policies, as he said the Armed Forces must reflect today’s society.

Andrew Murrison, the minister for defence people and families, told MPs that he was “guilty as charged” if he believed in making the military a more inclusive and diverse workspace.

The Telegraph reported that the Army was considering ways to relax security checks for overseas recruits to boost ethnic minority representation.

Grant Shapps ordered a review in response to the suggestions and claimed a “woke” and “extremist” culture had “infiltrated” the military.

Andrew Bridgen MP asked Dr Murrison in the Commons on Monday if he believed “the rise of woke makes it easier or more difficult to recruit the right sort of people into our Armed Forces”.

Dr Murrison said: “If he’s talking about increasing the amount of women in our Armed Forces, if he’s talking about Lord Etherton’s review into LGBT historically in our Armed Forces, if he’s talking about our ambition to make our Armed Forces more reflective of the society from which they’re drawn and which they serve, then I’m guilty as charged.”

Failed to meet its targets

The military is suffering a recruitment crisis and has repeatedly failed to meet its targets, including boosting women and ethnic minority numbers.

However, in light of Mr Shapps’ recent comments around diversity and inclusion, women in the Armed Forces told them it had left them feeling “unsafe”.

A source close to the Defence Secretary said: “We are all in favour of more women and equal opportunities, and correcting historic wrongs on homosexuality.

“But you can do that and still object to poisonous politics and agenda.”

Dr Murrison also insisted that security checks would not be relaxed in order to boost recruitment figures.“We take security extremely seriously and ensure all personnel have security clearance appropriate to their job,” he said.

“Checks normally require at least three years’ UK residency, but Commonwealth candidates are permitted to accrue qualifying residency while serving, although they cannot take up roles and ranks which require higher levels of vetting.

“This policy has been in place for several years and it hasn’t changed,” he added.