Saturday, 23 May 2020

To win a culture war, choose not to fight it

It is easy to slip into a culture war given our current politics in this country. Sadly, 'us versus them' does resonate within political circles. I'm less convinced that it does among the general public. What we do know is that the wider electorate tend to be open minded to gradual change and averse to sudden change.

It is with this consideration that we should realise that entrenched positions do not deliver policy change. While one might revel in self-certainty of what is regarded as a 'progressive' cause, it will make no material progress unless there is wider support.

What then should those wishing to deliver on social progress pursue? My argument would be that they need to rise above a culture war and set out a liberalism which can hold mass appeal. The target market for such an approach is vast and would include the voters who see attraction in the Green Party's message on climate change but would like to see modern solutions rather than a dumbed-down economy versus environment argument (itself a form of culture war). It could also include those who admire the way that the Welsh wing of the Brexit Party has challenged vested interests, though one would imagine them using a rather different form of words in their critique.

In recent political times the tendency has been to entrench. Brexiteers and Remainers, Labour's sway to the hard left, the once famous broad church of the Conservatives becoming intolerant of internal disagreement. Entrenchment is neither a route to electoral success, nor more importantly to deliver change. The party which rises above the fray can present a unifying platform which is neither constrained by artificial culture wars or outdated ideas of left v right.