An Age of Incivility

Nov 15, 2018

Recent years have seen a sustained and significant coarsening of the tone in British politics. Why is this happening? What are the consequences? And what should be done about it?

All political parties and institutions must do more to identify and call out the worst examples of public incivility, which debase our politics and damage the fabric of public life. In a new report An Age of Incivility: Understanding the New Politics, Policy Exchange analyses the extent and character of incivility in public life, which includes racist, sexist and violent abuse, and finds a growing – and increasingly worrying – problem.

Our analysis of the contours of incivility finds twelve key themes that are driving the coarsening of British public life and political discourse, including misogyny and homophobia, accusations of treachery and threats of violence. The political crises of recent years – the 2003 Iraq war, 2008 financial crisis, the 2009 MPs’ expenses scandal and 2016 Brexit referendum – have cut across traditional party lines and broken conventional political parameters, leading to aggression directed as much at ‘traitors’ within as political opponents.

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