Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
28 June 2022

UK voters “absolutely sick to death” of the culture wars, says Labour’s Louise Haigh

The Wakefield by-election result showed that the Tories’ “attempts to divide” aren’t working, the shadow transport secretary said at the NS Politics Live conference.

By Zoë Grünewald

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh has said that UK voters are “absolutely sick to death” of the culture wars and of the Conservative government’s “attempts to divide”. She was speaking today (28 June) at the New Statesman’s Politics Live conference.

Haigh said the recent Wakefield by-election, where Labour won the previously Conservative-held seat, demonstrated the need for the party to focus on the cost-of-living crisis and the economy. She was talking during a panel discussion on the Red Wall and what both the main parties need to do to keep or gain seats in former Labour heartlands.

As well as refusing to engage with culture wars, Haigh emphasised the need for the party to focus on producing a coherent economic plan to tackle the “biggest crash in living standards on record”, and to harness the popularity of Labour mayors such as Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester and Tracy Brabin in West Yorkshire.

Her comments echoed those made by the Labour leader Keir Starmer in the previous session at the same event, where he said: “I can tell you now the next election is going to be fought on the economy. The cost-of-living crisis is causing such hardship for so many people. We have to get the economy growing.”

Haigh pointed to the government’s Rwanda deportation programme, as well as its position on strikes, Brexit and the Northern Ireland protocol (which puts a trade border between Britain and Northern Ireland) as examples of the culture war policies that Labour, and the public, could now identify as “games”.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. Your guide to the best writing across politics, ideas, books and culture - both in the New Statesman and from elsewhere - sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

In response, Antony Higginbotham, the Conservative Party vice-chair for levelling up, retorted that the Rwanda plan was a “workable policy” in response to a genuine concern of the electorate, one raised during the Wakefield by-election.

Content from our partners
A better future starts at home
How to create an inclusive workplace and embrace neurodiversity
Universal Credit falls short of covering the bare essentials. That needs to change

Higginbotham’s comments elicited laughter from the audience, including an attendee who heckled Higginbotham by calling the policy a “crass example of your addled racism”.

The Tory vice-chair denied the claim of racism and described the policy as a “legitimate way for the government to address [the] issue”.

[See also: Keir Starmer: If you don’t change your views you won’t succeed]

Topics in this article : , ,