For more than three decades Frank Luntz, the world-renowned strategist and pollster, served at the heart of the American political establishment.
He advised George W. Bush and the Republican Party and was a consultant on hit drama The West Wing, which delivered an idealised view of a Left-wing presidency.
He saw both the good and the bad but, throughout those years, he had pride in the American way of doing politics.
Today, however, he feels 'embarrassment and shame' for the land of his birth.
'America used to be the 'shining city on the hill',' he says ruefully. 'I always contended that [America] was the answer. Now we are the problem.'Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
What worries him most is the impact of the 'woke' agenda and how it is promoting division, suppressing traditional liberties and undermining a shared sense of belonging which is vital for a multiracial society in the 21st century.
The resulting rise in identity politics — based on race, gender, religion or social background — makes it 'impossible to govern and impossible to achieve a consensus', he says.
In a landmark report for influential think- tank the Centre For Policy Studies (CPS), he has concluded that 'wokeism' and culture wars will, within 12 months, form the biggest dividing line in British politics and match the scale of the issue in the U.S
He describes woke dogma as a modern form of 'McCarthyism' in the way it has 'destroyed livelihoods, families and communities'.
And Luntz, 59, a committed Anglophile and contemporary of Boris Johnson at Oxford, warns that what is unfolding in America now is set to threaten the UK imminently.
In a landmark report for influential think- tank the Centre For Policy Studies (CPS), he has concluded that 'wokeism' and culture wars will, within 12 months, form the biggest dividing line in British politics and match the scale of the issue in the U.S.
'The problem with woke and with cancel culture is that it is never done,' he says. 'The conflict and division never end. This is not what the people of the UK want but it's coming anyway.'
Luntz, whose advice is sought by politicians, media companies and institutions on both sides of the Atlantic, is in London as a visiting academic fellow at the CPS.
Part of his work has been to conduct a major survey of British attitudes, public values and language, based on intensive polling and focus groups — of which he is an acknowledged master — involving several thousand respondents.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
He found that 'wokeism' is one of the top three concerns for people, and more of an issue than sexism or populism. Some 40 per cent said cancel culture engendered a 'thought and speech police' approach that could ruin lives.
In contrast, a quarter of respondents thought cancel culture was a force for good because those who express racist or sexist views must face the consequences.
What is so extraordinary, however, is that the domination of woke as an issue has been achieved with little deep support from the public. Just 5 per cent of UK voters identify as woke, while roughly a third of the public do not even know what the term means, according to the survey.
Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner ‘take the knee’. Voters do have genuine grievances about injustices and inequalities that exist in Britain. And in Luntz's view, these need to be met by Government action based on the principle of fairness
Britain is not yet as divided as the U.S. but it is heading in the wrong direction, with a large segment of our population gripped by severe disillusionment.
Only 34 per cent of people felt that 'Britain is an exceptional country', while more than a fifth of respondents believe Britain has 'failed its people'. For Luntz, this rings alarm bells because 'when people think they are 'ignored' or 'irrelevant', that's a crisis'.
No fewer than 37 per cent said the UK is 'institutionally racist and discriminatory', a figure exceeded by the 41 per cent who accepted the concept of 'white privilege'.
The political breakdown of those figures shows that support for the Conservative and Labour parties is increasingly split across cultural lines: for example, 81 per cent of Tory voters believed Britain was a nation of 'equality and freedom' and only 19 per cent believed it was 'institutionally racist and discriminatory'. In contrast, 52 per cent of Labour voters hailed British 'equality and freedom' while 48 per cent saw this country as racist and discriminatory.
So how has the woke ascendancy been achieved, given the low levels of support for it?
Luntz believes it is a case of 'the loudest voices in the room' being able to impose themselves. But other factors have played their part, such as the failure of businesses and politicians to provide effective leadership, with the result that grievances are unaddressed and resentment is allowed to flourish.
'There are two numbers [in the survey] that really interest me,' Luntz