The local election results demonstrate something we’ve seen in other countries, such as Australia: using a “war on woke” as your election strategy is a sure-fire way to be rejected at the polls.
As the nation’s leading pollster Sir John Curtice told the Byline Times in an interview this week, “If you look at the long term trends, anti-woke views are becoming less and less common”.
“You are chasing a declining zeitgeist, because in the end, one of the reasons why ‘anti-woke’ folk are so upset is because certain things that once upon a time nobody questioned, like the idea that same sex relationships are not a good idea… are no longer commonly held views.
“On this whole argument about diversity, attitudes have shifted and they have shifted in a ‘woke’ direction.”
The Sunak Tories are trying to roll back the clock, taking the party back to before the David Cameron “hug a hoodie” era to the nasty party of Michael Howard, and by doing so they’re swimming against a demographic tide: as Dr Natasha Kennedy writes on Twitter, demographics are moving the electorate in a less right-wing direction, something “that will only accelerate as the first postwar baby boom starts dying of old age in larger numbers in the second half of the decade while the 2008 mini-boom joins the electoral register in 2026”. The clock is ticking, and right-wing xenophobia in mainstream politics’ time is nearly up.
Not that you’d know that from the press. But the press is facing its own demographic time bomb: the typical Daily Express reader is 69, and with its circulation down 19% year on year its future clearly isn’t very bright. The Daily Mail (average age 56) is down too (11% daily, 12% for the Mail on Sunday); other newspapers’ figures are so appalling they no longer publish them. The (Glasgow) Herald last published statistics in 2017, when it had 28,900 readers; in 2020, The Scotsman was down to 14,417. Given the ageing demographic of these papers’ readers, it’s probably tasteless but fair to say that a few hard winters could kill the print versions off entirely.
Some, like cockroaches, will survive: the Daily Mail has been very successful in appealing to terrible people globally via the internet, and that’ll no doubt continue long after the print edition dies. But the press and the Tories’ war on woke is a short term strategy that can only be effective for a very short period of time: they’re swimming against a tide that will eventually sweep them away.