There are distinct politically minded groups in the UK – but our columnist just wants to watch football
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“I am not drinking that brand of cider any more,” my friend told me, “because they sponsor that new channel, GB News.”
“But you love [Swedish cider brewed independently since 1994]. I have never seen you without a can – no matter the time of day. Is the channel that bad?”
“I haven’t watched it.”
And that seems to be the problem. I haven’t watched GB News either. There is football on but lots of people seem to have made their minds up about it without looking.
It feels like yet another divisive moment and feeds into that sense that the country is irrevocably split. But it turns out it’s not that bad.
What category do you fall in to? Tell us in the comments below!
It might seem like there is of dissent at the moment, but boffins say it's not that bad
(Image: SIPA USA/PA Images)
Latest research by Kings College London shows that Britain is more complicated than people would have you believe. Instead of two groups fighting it out, there are four and there’s not really much fighting going on.
(I was going to turn this into one of those “Which group are you?” quizzes like the ones you used to get in the back of Marie Claire, but Euro 2020/1 is making time precious.)
Stats show that 26% of the population are “traditionalists”. These tend to be over 55, the most patriotic group, largely male, opposed to Black Lives Matter, and 97 per cent believe political correctness has gone too far.
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At the other end of the spectrum are the “progressives” who believe almost the exact opposite, and are young, university educated, and believe political correctness should go further. The rest of the country is firmly in the middle. One group called the “disengaged” don’t really know or care what’s going on (I have a soft spot for them).
The “moderates” take a middle position on pretty much everything. As you would expect from the name.
The moderates are the largest group. They are proud of the UK but not nostalgic. Sometimes they think political correctness has gone too far. Sometimes they don’t. They think people’s feelings are important but also that people can be too easily offended.
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This is the most important group, the one most of us are in. Professor Bobby Duffy, from the college, said: “The extremes are too small to form political or social majorities, so the direction the middle groups go next is vital.
“The real task is not to focus on or play to the edges, but to find the mix of messages and actions that bring more of us together.”
At the moment we’re seeing a lot of play round the edges. Mr Starmer taking the knee or the Culture Secretary attacking the GB News ad boycott. Or the Home Secretary saying people are OK to boo the England team for taking a stand on racism. All this is to try and drag a bit of the middle off to one side, or to shore up support with those who are already there.
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Meantime, I read in the News & Star, Carlisle, that the small town of Cleator Moor, Cumbria, is to get £22million of Government cash.
That’s at least a couple of thousand per head. It means after decades of neglect someone is finally spending money on you, with jobs being created, roads being built, tourism coming back and everything looking nice again. That’s the stuff that should really worry Labour.
How do you compete with that?