Ever since the Conservative government came into power in the UK in 2010, they have been deliberately using UKIP tactics to stoke the flames of culture wars. This has been done to distract from the various failures of their government, as well as to try and wedge the Labour party by playing on old-fashioned ideas of ‘Britishness’.
One example is how austerity measures have disproportionately affected specific demographics, notably immigrants and those from ethnic minority backgrounds. Another example is the hostile environment policy pursued by the Home Office, which has resulted in landlords and employers being incentivised to report people they think might be in the country illegally.
Conservative politicians have played a significant role in fuelling culture wars. They have used polarising rhetoric to appeal to their conservative base and score political points in many cases. Even within their cabinet, there are complaints of islamophobia.
Their use of divisive and inflammatory language has led to increased hate crimes, especially against Muslim and Jewish people. It has also caused a rift within British society, with people feeling increasingly polarised. The Conservatives claim that they are just standing up for traditional British values, but they are only interested in their political gain.
Rise of the far-right
According to a report by Hope Not Hate, anti-Muslim prejudice has replaced immigration as a key driver for far-right groups. They conducted a poll in July 2018 and found that 49% of those who voted Conservative in the 2017 general election thought Islam was generally a threat to the British way of life, compared with 21% who said it was compatible.
Among Labour voters, 22% said Islam was generally a threat, and 43% thought it was compatible.
The report says the Conservatives should do more to challenge the negative view of their voters.
The report said there was a “very real” left-wing anti-Semitism problem among a “small but very vocal group” of people. A larger group is engaged in “conspiratorial anti-Semitism” on social media, although overt anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are uncommon.
The row within the Labour Party over anti-Semitism is also highlighted in the report.
Hope Not Hate suggested that the far-right could exploit Brexit, stating: “Divisions within Britain are likely to increase. This will further split communities and boost the far-right’s populist anti-politics message”.
What can be done to reduce the impact of culture wars?
There is no one answer to this question, as the best way to reduce the impact of culture wars will vary from place to place and change over time. However, some general things that could be done include:
- Educating people about the history and background of different cultures and why they exist
- Encouraging communication and understanding between different groups of people through events, forums, and other initiatives
- Promoting diversity and inclusion, both in the workplace and in society as a whole
- Fostering a sense of community, where people feel like they belong and have a sense of shared