New culture and sport secretary Michelle Donelan has a troubling track record

New sport and culture secretary Michelle Donelan

Michelle Donelan is a culture war warrior obsessed with freedom of speech, and who has previously defended notorious anti-trans professor Kathleen Stock.

Donelan, the Tory MP for Chippenham, was appointed secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport by new UK prime minister Liz Truss on Tuesday (7 September).

Donelan has previously voted against the legalisation of same-sex marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland, and wants to put “an end to the nonsense of cancel culture”.

In her new role, Donelan will be responsible for government strategy on sport, cultural and artistic heritage, broadcasting and the internet, and promoting Britain “as a fantastic place to visit”. Or, as her predecessor Nadine Dorries put it, “tennis pitches” and “downstreaming movies”.

In the role, she will have influence on the inclusion of trans athletes across sports.

Her predecessor, Dorries, convened with representatives from football, cricket, rugby, tennis, athletics and other sports in June and instructed them to begin excluding trans women from women’s sports.

The Rugby Football Union has since announced a ban on trans women and several other sporting bodies are known to be considering their next steps.

Michele Donelan defended anti-trans professor

The devout Christian, who worked in marketing before transitioning into politics in 2010, was first elected in to parliament in 2015. She served as universities minister between 2020 and 2022, before being appointed education secretary by Boris Johnson in July.

She lasted just 36 hours in the role before she resigned, joining the mass exodus from Johnson’s government and saying he had “put us in an impossible position”.

As universities minister, Michelle Donelan was a vocal advocate for ‘freedom of speech’ at any cost, even to the point of defending holocaust deniers’ rights to speak at universities.

In June, she sent a letter to vice-chancellors of universities across the country, encouraging them to withdraw from equality, diversity and inclusion schemes which could be “in tension with creating an environment that promotes and protects free speech”.

“There is growing concern that a ‘chilling effect’ on university campuses leaves students, staff and academics unable to freely express their lawful views without fear of repercussion,” she wrote.

Liz Truss and Michelle Donelan

Liz Truss and Michelle Donelan. (Facebook/Michelle Donelan MP)

She vehemently backed former Sussex university professor turned LGB Alliance trustee Kathleen Stock, who believes trans women should be barred from “places where females undress or sleep”, and who quit her position after protests by LGBTQ+ students who took offence to her views.

Donelan tweeted after Stock’s resignation from her university post: “It is a sad day for freedom of speech… the toxic environment at the University of Sussex has made it untenable for Kathleen Stock to maintain her position there.”

In an article for Conservative Home this year, Donelan cited Stock’s case and said free speech was “under growing threat from what is frankly an increasingly deranged minority”.

She added: “We have been rewarding their tantrums with every reluctantly deleted tweet, every speaker we allowed to be de-platformed and every seminar room discussion we allowed to be shut down.”

PinkNews has approached Michelle Donelan for comment.