A third of Labour voters back the cancellation of people with whose views they disagree as a major study finds that more than half of Sir Keir Starmer’s supporters believe Britain is institutionally racist.
Research into the social views of Labour and Tory voters by the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank found that the Opposition’s voters were far more likely to hold ‘woke’ opinions while 37 per cent agreed that ‘the UK has failed its people’ and was ‘an embarrassment’.
The study suggests Britain is on its way to becoming as divided as the United States, where so-called ‘culture wars’ determine party loyalty more than economics and which is experiencing extreme polarisation.
Some 33 per cent of Labour voters – against 18 per cent of Conservatives – said they supported the idea of ‘cancel culture’, agreeing that there should be ‘consequences’ for those who say or do anything deemed hurtful to minorities. And some 52 per cent of their backers believe ‘the UK is an institutionally racist and discriminatory nation’.
Overall, 37 per cent of Britons were familiar with the term ‘woke’, which refers to people who are sensitive to social issues such as racism and discrimination based on sexuality and gender.
Among the 17 per cent who said they were very or totally woke, there was a major political divide between 25 per cent of Labour voters and just 11 per cent of Conservatives. The findings also contain a warning for big businesses tempted to display their woke credentials, with only 9 per cent of those surveyed believing that companies should speak out on social issues.
Study leader Dr Frank Luntz, a student contemporary of Boris Johnson who began his polling career by canvassing opinions on the future Prime Minister’s run for the Oxford Union presidency, said last night: ‘There is more that unites the UK than divides it.
Mr Luntz said the culture war and cancel culture had ‘already done significant damage to our system in the United States’ and the UK is on the same path, with many voters split along party lines
Frank Luntz, who helped the US Republican Party with its messaging for almost 30 years, conducted a major examination of UK voter attitudes
Next up in Woke Square: Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth will have ‘anti-colonialism rebel’ alongside casts of 850 transgender sex workers
Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth will be home to a sculpture by an ‘anti-colonialism rebel’ alongside the casts of 850 transgender sex workers which the artist expects will disintegrate in the rain.
Teresa Margolles’ artwork ‘850 Improntas’ has been chosen alongside a sculpture by artist Samson Kambalu to be displayed on the plinth in central London, which is home to a rolling commission of public artworks.
They secured the commissions after seeing off competition from four other artists.
Paloma Varga Weisz, Ibrahim Mahama, Goshka Macuga and Nicole Eisenman had also been shortlisted for Fourth Plinth commissions.
But Margolles, who initially trained as a forensic pathologist, believes her sculpture will disintegrate in the rain. She expects the work to deteriorate and fade away, leaving a ‘kind of anti-monument’, according to the Guardian.
‘But different people see the country differently – and the divisions that exist are significant and serious. It will worsen if not given alternative unifying narratives. Fairness and equality are essential British values. Wokeism is dependent upon a belief that Britain is failing in either area.
‘As long as business leaders are seen to be upholding these principles, wokeism won’t take hold.’
Labour supporters were most worried about the widening gap between rich and poor, while immigration was the biggest concern for Conservatives. And while Labour voters said the wealthy benefited the most from government spending, Tories picked ‘benefit claimants’.
Dr Luntz said: ‘There is far more political polarisation in the UK than the US. While the UK Right is not as Right as America, the UK Left is much further Left. Most voters are in the sensible centre.’
The report highlights the risk to Labour leader Sir Keir of adopting policies and stances that may appeal to the party’s increasingly liberal voters but will alienate the majority of the public.
It says: ‘For Labour, their top two priorities are the environment and human rights – which helps explain why they are losing.’
At the weekend, Labour said it would award more public contracts to British firms and raise standards to create jobs if it was in government. The move was seen as an attempt to take on the Tories by being seen as more patriotic.
The poll of almost 2,000 Britons aged 16 to 34 was commissioned by the Institute of Economic Affairs.
Mr Luntz found that the overwhelming majority of Tory voters – 81 per cent – believe that the UK is a country of ‘equality and freedom’ while 19 per cent said they believe it is ‘institutionally racist and discriminatory’.
The numbers were significantly different for Labour voters, with 52 per cent agreeing with the ‘equality and freedom’ statement and 48 per cent agreeing with the ‘institutionally racist and discriminatory’ statement.
There was also a clear dividing line on the question of whether financial success is earned. Some 68 per cent of Tory voters agreed, compared with 42 per cent of Labour supporters.
Sir Keir Starmer arrives for a Service of Thanksgiving to commemorate the NHS’ 73rd Birthday at St Paul’s Cathedral
In comments reported by The Times, Mr Luntz said: ‘The divide in Britain is on everything. Culturally, Labour prioritises British identity, the Conservatives prioritise British tradition.
‘Economically Labour prioritises equality and the Conservatives prioritise hard work. On just about every single issue there is a chasm within the country.’
He said ‘the problem with woke and with cancel culture is that it is never done’ and that the divisions ‘never end’.
He added: ‘I’m seeing things that you are going to see six months to a year from now. It’s already done significant damage to our system in the United States.
‘It prioritises equality over meritocracy. We’re becoming intolerant of tolerance.’
Mr Luntz said that the two sides of the culture war are ‘writing each other off’, creating an ‘awful’ chasm resulting in ‘less cooperation, less compromise, more negativity’.