14 October 2021 | OPINION

The politics of individual identity has reached the forefront of British politics thanks to the ‘progressive’ movement – but this obsession has to stop.

As progressivism has begun to sweep across the West, identity has been instrumented as a political weapon, a means to divide us; and it has opened up a new and futile political battleground that politicians, the press and everyday people are fighting on.

Now, one’s identity has become a substitute for a personality, whether that be on the grounds of race, sexuality or gender. The ‘culture wars’, the basis for which this political battle is fought, is stoked by politicians and journalists. On all sides of the political spectrum, they have bent to the will of progressivism publicly, even if they secretly oppose it – because they fear for their reputations and careers.

The entire landscape of British politics has shifted; the Left no longer care about workers, and the Right no longer care for ‘conserving’ anything. The ‘Conservative’ Party have not been conservative for some time, but to suggest they differ much from Labour on identity politics would be almost absurd. Perhaps there are some backbench MPs who refuse to kneel before the self-appointed thugs of ‘progressive’ ideology, but the politicians in power do almost nothing to battle against the left-wing social and cultural takeover; and those who are openly opposed to this radical vision for an identity-obsessed dystopia have very little to show for their words materially.

Currently, there is very little difference between the Left and the Right when considering the identity agenda, because the Right are consistently and willingly conceding to the demands of the Left. The conservative movement is shrinking in favour of a growing centre-right liberalist ideology, which differs little from the left-wing ‘progressive’ social movement, because it does little to fight it. In other words, the Right have become softer and more lenient; they have sat idle while allowing the Left to take ground. In some cases, ‘right-wing’ politicians play into the hands of identity politics – and enforce it, even.

Take first-term Conservative MP Dehenna Davison as an example. A youthful, enthusiastic and likeable politician, she has the potential to one day be a leading figure within the party – but she, too, plays a part in reinforcing society’s identity obsession.

She recently came out as bisexual, which of course there is nothing wrong with; it is welcome that she feels comfortable being able to share such an intimate part of her personal life with the public, which is something MPs would not have been able to do once upon a time.

However, her personal life should be separated from her professional life, and in no way would her sexuality affect her work; it is also of no public interest, perhaps other than to pander to the ludicrous and patronising identity quotas demanded by ‘progressives’ in the name of ‘diversity’. But this didn’t stop her from announcing to the national press that she didn’t want to make a “big deal” over it. I feel as though there may some conflict between her words and her actions here…

Similarly, this week has seen a totally unwarranted amount of media coverage given to the fact that Superman comes out as bisexual in a new comic. Relevance? None. Public interest? None. Meanwhile, as the British media persists in fixating upon the ‘culture wars’ and identity politics, it continues to neglect far more important issues happening in Britain and around the world.

The West’s withdrawal from Afghanistan only saw about two weeks of coverage before the media discontinued its vital journalism; the damning Pandora Papers, which exposed the tax loopholes exploited by some of the political elite in this country – including a former British Prime Minister – were headline news for just a few days before they faded into irrelevance. The UK’s ensuing migrant crisis is another huge problem that will likely be one of the largest political issues as we move past the pandemic, though it is barely addressed by the press (despite the alarming and increasing record number of refugees crossing the Channel). Rather than continuing to focus on far more significant issues, the media continues to instigate the ‘culture wars’ and the identity politics battle.

Ultimately, there are currently far more important issues to be addressed in British politics than the sexuality of an MP or a fictional character. The fact that these issues are barely being addressed is concerning, for it shows the tragic direction in which British politics and discourse are heading. Identity politics merely acts as a distraction away from these important matters – and it is instigated by the media.

This significant and concerning cultural and political shift, and society’s obsession with our immutable characteristics, only serves as a destructive means for dividing us. It has weakened us, and it is hard to see that there is any way back, so long as the Left keep making ridiculous demands and the Right cravenly continue to surrender social, cultural and political ground.

William is a political commentator and journalism student. His writing focuses on politics, society and culture in Britain.

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