Culture wars are raging. But how many of us know what they actually are? According to the Fabian Society’s report Counter Culture, published last week, they “magnify the minor, the marginal or the made up to inflame tensions”.

Remember the kerfuffle over the BBC’s dithering whether to play a certain song or not at the Proms?

Culture wars are no joke, however. They distort and weaponise issues around identity and values to polarise public opinion and silence progressive voices (or “woke”, “virtue signallers” as we’re otherwise known).

They close down debate, but they must be waged permanently; not just around election time. As Conservative advisor Lynton Crosby remarked: “You can’t fatten a pig on market day”.

And so Priti Patel refuses to condemn England fans for booing England footballers who take the knee, dismissing their act as “gesture politics”. Would she say the same about Martin Luther King when he took the knee, I wonder?

Brendan Clark-Smith, another Tory MP, went further, conflating taking the knee with a Nazi salute. No wonder some England fans felt able, even encouraged, to racially abuse a number of black players.

Boris Johnson denigrates Muslim women, labelling them “letterboxes”, and Islamophobia grows. Former footballer Gary Neville pointed out how racism is “actually promoted by the prime minister.”

Even senior Tories are outraged. “If we whistle and the dog reacts, we can’t be surprised if it barks or bites. It’s time to stop the culture wars that are feeding division. Dog whistles win votes but destroy nations”, said Baroness Sayeeda Warsi.

Racism is only one of many battles going on. Trans rights are under attack to the detriment of all women. “Who benefits” asks the Fabian Report, when “debates between feminists become ferocious and unforgiving?”


Socialists, including myself, are falsely accused of anti-semitism to close down criticism of the Israeli Government’s crimes against Palestinians. Here in Wales, those who stand up for Welsh language rights and for Welsh-speaking communities are vilified and deliberately misrepresented, while our language and our communities die.

Let’s not forget either that wars cause death, injury and pain. Black men go on dying in police custody at an alarming rate. Countless women and girls are murdered and raped by men with impunity.

And multiple lives and livelihoods are wrecked because of a person’s sexuality, faith or language. We need to call out those who seek to divide us for sure, remembering that they are the few, albeit

 the powerful few. It’s clear also that, like Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Brendan Clark-Smith, the elites are the ones who manufacture the arguments and the hatred, not people on the streets or in the pubs.

And why? Because arguments over nothing distract us from the real issues of poverty and the widening wealth gap, of corruption and, currently, the catastrophic way the pandemic is being handled.

We all must do more to stand with those being persecuted because if we don’t, as Pastor Niemoller warned, one day they will come for us...