Four in five people in the UK believe in being ‘woke’ to race and social justice

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy</span>
Photograph: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy

An overwhelming majority of people in the UK hold the “woke” belief that it is important to be alive to issues of race and social justice, according to a new analysis of public attitudes.

Four in five Britons believe in being attentive to those issues – the definition of “woke” used by the Merriam-Webster dictionary – leading researchers to claim the country is not as divided by culture wars as is often assumed. An overwhelming majority of Conservative voters and those who backed Brexit also said it was important to be attentive to the issues.

The report by the Global Future thinktank, using polling by YouGov, states that it is one of several areas in which there is more agreement in the UK than polarisation.

It points to strong support for taking in more Ukrainian refugees (43%), including among Tory voters (30%), as well as support for wider restrictions on immigration. Only a tiny proportion of Remainers said they want totally open borders.

When asked directly whether they thought they were “woke”, with no definition given, 16% said they were, 41% said they were not and 31% said they did not know what the term meant.

Asked about their views on British history, 77% of people believe Britain has been a force for good in the world but that this does not equate to denying issues about the past. Some 67% also accept that Britain has done damage. A majority believe this across age, gender and region. While 74% of Conservatives acknowledge that damage has been done in Britain’s past, 65% of Labour voters accept that Britain has also had a positive impact in the world.

The findings have been supported by political figures attempting to stop political polarisation. “This research reveals the decent, tolerant and ethical centre ground of the British people,” said Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP. “We’re proud of our history and we care deeply about racial and social injustice. Despite talk of polarisation, we still share a meaningful sense of the common good.”

Jesse Norman, the Tory MP and former Treasury minister, said: “What this research highlights is that, as a whole, people across the UK are both capable and comfortable in talking about complex questions of race and identity, and that they still hold firm to a centre ground of tolerance, decency and mutual respect.”

The research was based on a YouGov poll conducted on 6-7 April. It polled 2,244 people online.