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Rishi Sunak Should End His ‘War on Woke’, Say Voters

Exclusive new poll finds the public is far more tolerant of diversity and cultural change than the Government appears to believe, Adam Bienkov reports

Rishi Sunak. Photo: SST/Alamy

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An overwhelming majority of British voters want the Government to stop talking about its so-called ‘war on woke’ and instead focus on issues the public really cares about instead, according to an exclusive new poll for Byline Times.

In recent months Rishi Sunak’s Government has made a series of interventions on issues such as trans rights and free speech in universities, designed to inflame a so-called ‘culture war’ with the opposition Labour Party.

However, a survey of UK voters by pollsters WeThink suggests that the public finds the Government’s focus on such issues to be a turn off, at a time when they are most concerned with other issues, such as living costs, crime and climate change.

Asked if they agreed with the statement that ‘the Government spends too much time talking about ‘woke’ issues such as trans rights and free speech and not enough time talking about issues I really care about’, 73% of voters said they agreed, including 80% of Conservative voters.

This perception extends to specific initiatives recently pursued by the Government.

Asked about the Prime Minister’s recent appointment of a “free speech tsar” charged with tackling so-called “cancel culture” in British universities, 51% said they thought this was a waste of Government time and resources, with just 21% disagreeing.

Overall, 59% of voters said they believed politicians should not be getting involved with the issue of which speakers are allowed to speak at educational institutions and which are not.

Voters also appear unimpressed with the Government’s recent announcement about restrictions on unisex toilets. Fifty-three per cent of voters said the Government should not be spending time on this issue, compared to just 31% who disagreed. Even Conservative voters were more likely to believe that ministers are wasting their time focusing on this issue, than not.

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Unpopular Populism

The Government also appears to be out of touch with the public on the substance of most so-called culture war issues, according to our poll.

Sunak’s Government intervened earlier this year to block plans by the Scottish Government on gender ID and the Prime Minister has repeatedly sought to use the issue as part of an attempt to trigger a ‘culture war’ with the opposition.

However, our poll found that 51% of voters believe people should have a legal right to change their gender if they wish to do so, compared to just 29% who disagree. Even Conservative voters are more likely to back this right than not, by 44% to 31%.

More broadly British voters appear to be largely tolerant of diversity and shifting cultural norms, according to our poll.

On sexuality, 72% of voters said they would be comfortable with a close family members coming out as gay or bisexual, compared to just 18% who disagreed. 

British people appear similarly tolerant about racial and religious diversity, with 72% saying they would be comfortable with a close family member marrying a person of a different race or religion, compared to just 17% who said they would not. These findings were broadly consistent across all age groups and regions.

This tolerance was also reflected in a plurality of voters saying that Britain’s increasing diversity has been positive. Overall, 48% said that Britain’s increased racial and cultural diversity over recent decades had been a good thing, compared to 32% who said it had been neither good nor bad and just 19% who said it had been a bad thing.

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Voters appear to be more split on the issue of the integration of new arrivals, however. Asked if they would feel comfortable with a family of asylum seekers living next door to them, 37% said they would feel uncomfortable, compared to 35% who said they would feel comfortable. Conservative voters were significantly less at ease about the idea of living next to asylum seekers, according to our poll, with 48% saying it would make them feel uncomfortable.

The findings come as the Prime Minister sought to falsely accuse the Labour party of “pledging” to accept 100,000 migrants a year from the EU, after the Labour leader backed plans, also recently backed by Sunak himself, of negotiating a migrant returns agreement with the EU.

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