Rishi Sunak wades into eye-rolling debate about Roald Dahl’s Oompa Loompas being gender-neutral

On the left, Rishi Sunak in a white shirt speaks into a microphone. On the left, two people dressed up as Oompa Loompas.

The planet is on fire, trans health care is in the gutter, and absolutely everyone is on strike, but it appears that a nonsensical debate about gender-neutral Oompa Loompas is atop the political agenda.

Over the weekend, Roald Dahl’s estate and publisher, Puffin Books, said that it had reviewed the author’s books and edited certain terms to cater to a modern audience.

One amendment means all references to Oompa Loompas as “small men” being replaced with the words “small people” in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Words such as “fat” and “ugly” have also been removed from Dahl’s books, which include much-loved titles such as Matilda, The Twits, and The BFG.

The move has ignited yet another culture war, with prime minister Rishi Sunak taking time out of his schedule to voice his concern about the changes, suggesting they are an attack on “free speech and expression”.

A spokesperson for Sunak said that “the prime minister agrees with the BFG that we shouldn’t gobblefunk around with words.”

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The statement went on to say: “It’s important that works of literature and works of fiction are preserved and not airbrushed. We have always defended the right to free speech and expression.”

Joining Sunak in the jaded conversation, author Salman Rushdie branded the decision by Puffin and Dahl’s estate “absurd censorship”.

It’s not particularly reassuring to see government time dedicated to such inane debate, considering real issues, from rising anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime to the endlessly delayed conversion therapy ban, remain unresolved.

Sunak’s comments come after the prime minister promised to eliminate the “lefty woke culture”, suggesting that the left wants to “cancel our history, our values and our women”.

During his leadership contest bid last summer, he promised to erase “clumsy, gender-neutral language” and committed to banning trans women from women’s sports.

Last week, Conservative Party deputy chairman, Lee Anderson, suggested that the next general election should be fought with a “mix of culture wars and trans debate” on the agenda.