X Close

Lisa Nandy: Minister for the Culture Wars

The adults are back in the room. Credit: Getty

July 10, 2024 - 10:00am

“The era of culture wars is over,” according to the new Culture Secretary, Lisa Nandy. Speaking to staff at her department yesterday, she condemned “polarisation, division and isolation”, and promised to make culture more inclusive. Up and down the country, jaws dropped as one of Labour’s most divisive politicians reinvented herself as a benign figure who wouldn’t dream of stoking conflict.

“That is how I intend us to serve our country — celebrating and championing the diversity and rich inheritance of our communities and the people in them,” Nandy claimed. Does that include girls whose aspirations are being crushed by boys who insist on competing in female sports categories? Women who have lost jobs in arts organisations because they refuse to go along with nonsense about “gender identity”?

She didn’t say. But Nandy 2.0 would have to be a very different creature for any of us to be reassured. She is one of the most intransigent supporters of transgender ideology in the party’s senior ranks, once calling for women who disagreed with her to be expelled. She also insisted that male rapists who “identify” as women should be housed in women’s prisons. Last year, she said children as young as 13 who want to change gender should be “taken seriously”, ignoring evidence that most young people grow out of dysphoria.

Nandy’s use yesterday of the phrase “culture wars” signals an astounding lack of self-awareness. It’s a lazy sneer, trivialising justified concerns about the impact of identity politics on a wide range of issues, from prisons policy to sport. Anyone who uses it is taking a side in a conflict they dismiss as spurious, while pretending to be above such petty behaviour. And that exactly describes the position of the Cabinet minister currently responsible for culture, media and sport.

The appointment of such a high-profile supporter of identity politics has been greeted with dismay. Nandy’s brief covers the book world, where the launch of SEEN in Publishing, a network set up to challenge discrimination against gender-critical editors and authors, has exposed the influence of transactivism.“Get fucked” was the response on X of the director of a PR company. Recently a book blogger, who has now been sacked by Waterstones, announced that she would enjoy tearing up and binning books by a gender-critical author.

If ever there was a moment to stand up for free speech in publishing, theatre and the arts more generally, this is it. But we now have a culture secretary whose grasp of the serious issues facing her department resembles that of a self-righteous teenager.

Nandy has been followed into government by a slew of politicians, including the Women and Equalities Minister Anneliese Dodds, who have spent years repeating transactivist slogans. It is a sign that Sir Keir Starmer has no intention of listening to critics, including some of his own MPs, who believe his promises to protect women-only spaces can’t be trusted.

Culture is on the front line of a conflict between people who believe in reality and supporters of an anti-science cult. When Nandy condemns “polarisation” with a straight face, it’s hard not to giggle. Really, though, the rights of women and girls in culture and sport are no laughing matter.


Joan Smith is a novelist and columnist. She was previously Chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board. Her book Unfortunately, She Was A Nymphomaniac: A New History of Rome’s Imperial Women will be published in November 2024.

polblonde

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

38 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Michael Lipkin
Michael Lipkin
10 days ago

There are many women that support the transgender movement – but why?
Here is my theory, its a revolutionary movement.
These women think that this change in culture will change human nature, specifically men will become nicer, and that could be considered a noble aim, but will it work?
Gender critical women are skeptical.
The men in women´s prisons is a key point, since these are often the worst men. Will their female performance make them nicer? If not, then the revolution must fail.
Unfortunately, like all true believers, they are totally committed to their ideology and are probably nobbling statistics on this issue right now in order to keep the experiment going.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
10 days ago
Reply to  Michael Lipkin

Women of my generation (young Gen-X), and a little younger again, have been supporting gay rights for the past 20 years since they came of age as college graduates, and not just.
They just don’t see any difference with trans because in their minds the general Queering of culture is identical to the feminisation of the work-place that has further taken place under their watch.
And as the younger militants go (4th Gen pro-trans feminists), they are the daughters of the 80s and 90s when Butler and her Queer Theory acolytes emerged.

Anne Clarke
Anne Clarke
10 days ago
Reply to  Michael Lipkin

Men will become ‘nicer’?
President Putin will be delighted. I’m not sure what ‘nicer’ means in this context but I do know that no society can survive without strong men.

Michael Lipkin
Michael Lipkin
9 days ago
Reply to  Anne Clarke

Nicer as in not harassing (or worse) women.
Just as the communists thought that collectivisation would create a new soviet man so these revolutionaries believe that this blurring of gender will produce new people and progress towards utopia.
For communism the empirical evidence is in in the form of 10s of millions of deaths but ab-initio it may have been rational to believe that this leap in human niceness was possible.
RE the current revolutionary ideology different people might have different assessments of its likelihood of success. It is however notable that the revolutionaries do not state their aims directly preferring emotionally manipulative methods such as ´be kind´ etc. They therefore assess that (probably correctly) that the general public is skeptical.
¨The reasonable woman adapts herself to the world: The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to herself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable woman” George Bernard Shaw.
These musings assume that Ms Nandy, Sturgeon et al are rational (though unreasonable). It is possible that they are not rational?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
9 days ago
Reply to  Michael Lipkin

Trans people are .003% of the population. The left and the media, to repeat myself, have an ideological commitment to keeping this inconvenient fact secret.

Colin Bradley
Colin Bradley
3 days ago
Reply to  Michael Lipkin

To be honest I doubt that is the reason. More likely they hunger to be themselves considered ‘nice’. And politically correct. It needs a hefty cognitive dissonance to reason so, but the cult with its pharmaceutical financial sponsors can supply that.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
10 days ago

Unsurprising as she is a tragic Gen-X lib culture warrior from a communist family. And she reflects a multicultural society in which families would rather change the sex of their child than have a gay son or daughter.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
10 days ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

I have often said that every gay man and tomboy over the age of 25 should thank any and every god imaginable daily for the blind luck of having been born before adults thought it would be great fun to sterilize kids and medically experiment on them.

El Uro
El Uro
10 days ago

I wonder how long it will take for Britain to disappear as it is now becoming apparent that it is an accelerating process. Looking at you, it seems unlikely that you will last more than ten to fifteen years.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
10 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

Will you last any longer than that? You know nothing of Britain.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
10 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Well, I know a lot of Britain which is disappearing before my eyes. And it is on a suicide mission. It might last another generation, but I doubt it. It will end in civil wars, with a number of factions, and will be preceded with population movements which have already started.

mac mahmood
mac mahmood
3 days ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

Much of the British population have already moved. They have been doing so for 500 yrs. They are in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
10 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

So we should ignore our lying eyes then as a nation willingly dismantles its own culture, history, traditions, and demographics?

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
10 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Of course not. I was simply replying to El Uro, who is fond of making snide remarks about the UK without any background knowledge. Your reply, and that of Jos Haynes, completely miss their mark if you think i’m ignoring what’s happening. I dare say i’m more au fait with the state of the UK than either of you, as previous comments would attest.
Next…

El Uro
El Uro
9 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Next…
If you are a drop in a waterfall, you never feel you are falling down. With acceleration

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
10 days ago

The era of culture wars is over? Is that code for ‘just about to start?’

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
10 days ago

and promised to make culture more inclusive

Starts off with an oxymoron then?

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
10 days ago

She is her father’s daughter.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
10 days ago

“‘The era of culture wars is over,’ according to the new Culture Secretary, Lisa Nandy. Speaking to staff at her department yesterday, she condemned ‘polarisation, division and isolation.’”

Translation from Leftspeak: “Shut up now. No further argument will be tolerated.”

2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
10 days ago

“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”
Borg warning from Star Trek: First Contact

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
10 days ago

“The culture war is over. Except for the part of judging people by their skin color, genitalia, and other immutable factors because only by highlighting the differences among us can division be overcome.”
That sounds pretty much like what this creature is saying. When people say elections have consequences, the likes of Nandy are what they mean.

Adam Huntley
Adam Huntley
10 days ago

When Nandy says “the Culture War is over” what she’s really claiming is ” The right side of history has won and so all opposition can now shut up and go away. “

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 days ago

There are two types of people who complain about the ‘culture wars’.
The first are those who genuinely don’t give a toss about socio-cultural issues. They want to talk about economics. Or housing. Or immigration. Or, IDK, exploring the moon. Anything that isn’t rights and attitudes around different groups in society. They don’t particularly care about being an ‘Ally’, nor do they pay much attention to what is or isn’t ‘woke’.
The latter are people who do have very strong views on ‘culture war’ topics, and when they complain about ‘culture wars’, what they are actually complaining about is that not everybody agrees with them.
I have sympathy for the former group. But the latter are so aggravatingly disingenuous. You are one half of the culture war. If you really want to put culture wars to rest as a politician, it’s not actually that difficult, just stick to the status quo and try to adopt policies in-line with opinion polling. I think Kier Starmer wants to do that, but Lisa Nandy almost certainly does not.

David Morley
David Morley
9 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I’m definitely of the former – though ideology and ideological fights, and the ideologists themselves (as a type) fascinate me.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
10 days ago

Female equivalent of Ed Miliband. Offspring of middle class, immigrant, communist academic. University to working as an MP’s researcher and some third sector non-jobs. Elected official. Ministerial post. Utter waste of space.

Phoebe Blackhurst
Phoebe Blackhurst
10 days ago

testing

william langdale
william langdale
10 days ago

People who use the phrase “culture wars” as a smear are basically the same as anyone in 1940 who would have condemned “the violence on both sides”.

Dr Illbit
Dr Illbit
9 days ago

“we now have a culture secretary whose grasp of the serious issues facing her department resembles that of a self-righteous teenager.”

A sentence that could apply equally to most of the politicians in cabinets of the uniparty over the last 15 years.

A generation of un-serious people have entered the room with all the levers of government…

Morgan Watkins
Morgan Watkins
9 days ago
David Morley
David Morley
9 days ago

“The era of culture wars is over,” 

All this can really mean is that government will cease to indulge culture warriors of whatever stripe.

Obviously for the combatants themselves the culture war can only be over once their side has triumphed completely and their enemy is totally vanquished. So for the author the war is not over, and she thinks Labour should take her side.

Peter Principle
Peter Principle
9 days ago

If the culture war is over, who won?

I remember asking the analogous question when Tony Blair announced that the class war was over.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
9 days ago

Labour is going to give it to the country good and hard.

Martin Goodfellow
Martin Goodfellow
9 days ago

Lisa Nandy’s statements are meant as a declaration of victory. This is a tactic intended to intimidate any opposition. Homogenisation may work with milk, but it doesn’t work with people, and cultures that have developed over thousands of years cannot really be both ‘inclusive’ and ‘diverse’, for the one idea contradicts the other. The dream is bound to fail, as did the Soviet sphere, but it still needs to be vigorously opposed to minimise the social and intellectual damage it is bound to cause. We need to stay alert.

Martin M
Martin M
9 days ago

Climate Change is the new Culture War….

Christiane F Hankinson
Christiane F Hankinson
9 days ago

I can’t believe how many gender ideologists and proponents of self ID Starmer has put in ministerial posts: Lammy, who believes that although he didn’t think men had ovaries with the right drugs and procedures they could grow a cervix; Yvette Cooper who although she did acknowledge the importance of the Cass report, has banged on incessantly on the rights of trans people (she has a trans child); Annelise Dodds who gladly admits she doesn’t know what a woman is. (Starmer thought long and hard about that one) and now Lisa Nandy well known to advocate self ID. That’s the Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Minister of Women and Minister of Culture. What’s Starmer ‘s game here?

I have seen it reported that 10% of the new MPs are on a LBGTQ+ ticket, that’s over 40 trans activists? who would love to believe they have won the argument, and new laws enabling self ID, and gradual official erasure of the word woman are in the bag, (This is already so online as in Health Matters which has 25 million users.. I noted this recently when I looked up osteoarthritis, which commonly affects post menopausal women, no mention of women they said ‘it affected mainly people assigned female at birth’ I checked for male prostate problems on same platform but that curiously affected ‘men’. Men hadn’t lost their nomenclature. They were still men.)

Gender ideology is packaged in such a way that rejoices that we are all legally human with equal human rights. Recognizing that ‘Woman’ has had a long legal fight to gain acceptance as equally human so long an object in law, alongside livestock.
Women themselves seem divided on the issue: gender ideologists wish to ditch the term, embrace their legal equality to the point that many wish to become non binary and erase their sex. Many young women want the freedom and status of males, many older men enjoy the thrill of dressing in female clothes; gender criticals on the other hand are fighting for realistic sex rights, they object that ‘woman’ is seen as a feeling that can be had by men, as denial and denigration of the complexity of the needs of the female sex.
Perhaps Starmer wants to stir it up? Either that or he just doesn’t care, or get it. He’s a lawyer, they are equal in law that is enough for him. Even though that law can endanger women.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
9 days ago

I still find it odd that the trans agenda is pushed so hard. Had there been a campaign to reduce the violence that trans people might face or discrimination at work or had they ask nicely to go along with them and use preferred pronouns, that would be fine, even at a push changing birth certificates. It might have been described as culture war had others resisted those things.

But it’s much more. The idea that trans-women are women is so obviously nonsensical. That men should compete in sports against women, even to the point of physical danger. That very dangerous men who pretend to be women could access very vulnerable women in prisons.

Worse, when people resist they face “excommunication” (Duffield), the end of a career (Stock, Linehan) or vicious threats (Rowling). All this aggression, partly from actual trans people but also from their supporters.

It doesn’t make sense. Were gay rights campaigners or civil rights campaigners as aggressive? I don’t know but my suspicion is not.

It doesn’t make sense. I’m very leary of thinking about some sort of conspiracy by the extreme left; conspiracies require too many people to make them work but I cannot explain this.

El Uro
El Uro
8 days ago

They train you to believe any of their nonsense

mac mahmood
mac mahmood
3 days ago

What do people mean by nonsense about ‘gender identity’. Whatever it is they seem to be up in arms about it. But their battle has already been lost when the accepted that a woman can be a husband and a man can be a wife.