Tory MP Caroline Nokes says her party won’t win next election by focusing on ‘culture war issues’

Gender Recognition Act: Caroline Nokes arrives at Downing Street in a red suit

Conservative MP Caroline Nokes has hit out at the “toxicity” of debates on the trans community, claiming that focusing on “narrow issues” does nothing but cause division. 

In an interview with The News Agents, Nokes, 50, claimed her party will not win the next election if they focus on stoking division through “culture war” debates, with the economy and public services far more important in her eyes.

Nokes, who has previously defended same-sex marriage and advocated for gender-neutral toilets in schools, explained: “I know as well as any other colleague that general elections are won and lost on the economy, on how you delivery public services, on whether people have confidence in a government that is going to do the right thing on education, on the NHS, on law and order.

“Culture wars, when it comes to determining how people vote in any given election, are so far down the average voter’s political radar that I don’t know why we’re seeking to stoke division and hatred.”

When asked if the Tories had stoked “division and hatred”, Nokes – who is also chair of the Women and Equalities Committee – said: “I think that it would be fair to say that by continually focusing on a few narrow issues where there is real division and toxicity in the debate, that it does stoke people up.”

Nokes’ comment comes as Conservative deputy chair Lee Anderson has said the party will include “a mix of culture wars and trans debate” at the heart of its next election campaign in order to win voters. 

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In an interview in February, Anderson claimed that three things won the 2019 election for the Tories, “it was Brexit, it was Boris, it was Corbyn”, adding that the Tories will rely on the “trans debate” to stir up voters for the anticipated 2024 general election.

Nokes added that an increase in hateful rhetoric has led to the population reacting negatively towards policies that benefit LGBTQ+ people or people of colour, explaining that she had received “racist” messages for publishing a report on Black maternal health. 

“You would have thought that people would be concerned about mums dying, babies grown up with no mothers, babies dying. No, the emails I’ve had about it today have been racist,” she explained. 

The Tories have previously been criticised for stoking hate against the trans community, with prime minister Rishi Sunak recently slammed for claiming “biological sex is fundamentally important”

Sunak explained in an interview that we should “always have compassion and understanding and tolerance” for trans people, but vowed to protect single-sex spaces on the basis of biology.

“We need to make sure – particularly when it comes to women’s health, women’s sports or indeed spaces – that we’re protecting those rights and [single-sex] places.” 

PinkNews has contacted Caroline Nokes for further comment.

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