Hope is triumphing over hate despite divisive culture wars, says Bradford MP Naz Shah

People are “coming together” and “hope” is “triumphing [over] hate” in spite of divisive culture war issues which have come to prominence in recent years, a Yorkshire Labour MP has claimed.

Bradford West MP and Shadow Community Cohesion Minister Naz Shah warned the Government that “with leadership comes responsibility” when it comes to community cohesion as she admitted she is “worried” about tensions.

Her comments come in the wake of a report from the Fabian Society, which suggested the so-called “anti-woke” agenda was pitting working class communities against one another.

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Mackenzie Robertson and his mother Sally Coles-Robertson put up a message on the mural of Manchester United striker and England player Marcus Rashford on the wall of the Coffee House Cafe on Copson Street, Withington. The mural appeared vandalised on Monday after the England football team lost the UEFA Euro 2021 final. Picture date: Tuesday July 13, 2021. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The so-called culture wars have been played out over a number of controversies in recent years, from whether Rule Britannia should be played at the end of the Proms, to supposed calls to have the film Grease “cancelled”.

Rows have also erupted over the Black Lives Matter movement, the England football team taking the knee before matches, and over LGBT+ rights.

Meanwhile a Conservative Yorkshire MP said it was a "fundamental part of politics" for the Government to represent the majority of the people and "to represent their views and values".

Ms Shah told the Yorkshire Post that the biggest example of culture wars was the racist abuse directed at black England footballers after their Euro 2020 final defeat.

The Government was accused of "dog whistle" politics after initially failing to criticise the booing of the national team for taking the knee against racism in the tournament.

Ms Shah said: "If you blow the whistle and the dog barks and bites don’t be surprised, dog whistle politics really does destroy nations.

"And we need to be really really careful because with leadership comes responsibility and words matter so I think from the Government’s perspective I see what they do and (...) the leadership is guilty of stoking those tensions.

“That worries me deeply, not just as a local MP but as the Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion.”

However, the supportive public response to the England football team has shown that “hope does triumph hate,” Ms Shah said.

She added: “When I’ve been out with my own constituents what I have seen is the unity of people coming together in spite of where I feel the Government is heading towards which is this whole idea of culture wars.”

Last week, researchers found that clashes about tradition and identity are usually instigated by those seeking political, personal or commercial gain.

And that while these “culture wars” may result in significant public divides, the report finds this only happens after controversies are whipped up by the “pedlars” of culture wars, the study found.

The report also suggested that pointing “at an imagined enemy” is easier than putting in work to level up as the Government has promised, however Conservative Alex Stafford said that MPs have to understand people’s values in order to bring change.

The Conservative - whose Rother Valley seat had been Labour for more than 100 years before he was elected to Parliament in 2019 - explained: “Of course the levelling up agenda is incredibly important and we’re doing a lot on that. But the most fundamental part of politics is you have to represent the majority of the people, you’re there to represent their views and values.

"People understand when policies go wrong or mistakes are made but if you’re starting from a base level that we are all on the same side, we are working together for the same objective then we can get there."

He went on: “You have to be on the same wavelength, what sort of country do we want to be, what sort of views and values, and only then can you build on those more concrete things like a new rail line.

“If you just throw money at a problem or investment at a problem but you don’t underline it, actually speak to what people care about and what people need, it all falls down.”