A FEW weeks ago I had one of those little alignments of events that gave me the feeling of staring into a perfect time capsule of the state of contemporary British politics.

While scrolling through Twitter (the social platform I won’t stoop to calling X) I came upon a response to the UK Education Secretary Gillian Keegan that captured, in 280 characters or less, the consequences of the culture wars to date.

Keegan had just posted a series of updates and now widely mocked graphics outlining the extent of the crumbling concrete crisis in England’s schools – and nestled below the rather dismissive declaration of “Most Schools Unaffected” was a response from blue tick subscriber and Reform UK spokesperson for Exmouth & Exeter East, Garry Sutherland.

Garry wasn’t concerned about the state of England’s schools; not the potential collapse of Britain’s education infrastructure, nor the potential danger facing pupils in their creaking classrooms. Garry had just one concern. “Don’t let this distract you”, he insisted, “from the more important review of relationships, sex and health education to protect children from the inapropriate [sic] content being taught in school.”

Here was a spokesperson, from a failing party (that had, nonetheless, spurred on the British political class’s descent into far-right rhetoric) encouraging an ineffectual government secretary to abandon an honest-to-god crisis in service to the culture war that serves no-one but right-wingers and the reactionaries that enable them.

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If this is a sign of things to come, I’m not sure what will be left of the United Kingdom by the end of the next General Election. At most, a year and a half away, and already there are campaigners prepared to dismiss the Raac scandal as secondary to their very real concerns that sex education might dare to acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ+ people – or would try to prepare young people with age-appropriate information for the world that they are entering.

This was “more important” than the scandal that has painted Britain as a kingdom teetering on the edge of collapse, literally and metaphorically.

And yes, it’s one tweet. From one man. But an isolated event, it is not.

The Conservatives have already made clear they intend to fight the next General Election on culture war issues over the real-world problems that a decade of Tory rule has inevitably wrought upon us.

Why wouldn’t those radicalised by culture war rhetoric attempt to sweep the crumb(ling building)s under the rug, so to speak, in favour of their obsessions?

It is, after all, a feature of this rhetoric that it becomes an all-consuming aspect of the lives of those who engage with it. Naturally, it would cause folk to lose any and all perspective.

It seems trite, I know, to attribute so much to something so little. But it is, to me, a reflection on the state of this so-called family of nations.

Recently, the Conservatives have been ramping up their attacks on migrants, pledging to use increasingly hostile and inhumane methods to deal with asylum seekers and refugees coming to the UK.

The National: People had to be moved off the barge after Legionella bacteria was found in the water

In the past few days the Bibby Stockholm barge (above), where the Home Office has been holding asylum seekers, has been deemed “dire” after organisations spoke with more than 50 people who had stayed onboard, and found instances of rats and mould. Fascistic protest in opposition to immigration and asylum seekers has been building across the UK, including in Erskine where the far-right Patriotic Alternative have been organising.

And in Dublin this weekend, a group of anti-trans activists gathered to listen to speeches as part of British pundit Posie Parker’s Let Women Speak tour, which was attended by both Graham Linehan and the far-right, according to reports from counter-protestors.

Ahead of the event, too, self-described journalist and organiser Róisín Michaux was recorded saying that being a member of the far-right was “totally f*cking okay”.

During the Australia leg of Parker’s tour, she drew a crowd of neo-Nazis who sieg heiled and supported her rally. It would be fair to say it has become an expected part of her performances – and that doesn’t appear to be an issue from those who think it fine to be rubbing shoulders with fascists.

It is not a stretch to think that the UK Government, on continuing to see the usefulness of targeting immigrants and transgender people over dealing with real problems, will inevitably embolden right-wing extremism through their framing of these topics. And Labour, while not as extreme, certainly seem more than happy to trot along the path behind the Tories with just enough distance to believe they are being subtle.

But there are consequences.

As the Overton window shifts, extremism spreads. And while the issues facing transgender people and asylum seekers are different, we are both trapped in a game for the benefit of others – a game that thrives on cruel theatrics. With the UK Government seemingly abandoning its pledge to bring about a ban on the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy, it’s clear too that the Conservatives are committed to more than just talking to their bases.

It was the news that the conversion therapy ban had been dropped; the news that asylum seekers were being moved off the Bibby Stockholm barge after an outbreak of legionella; and so much more, that brought that silly tweet to mind and left me asking: What state will we be in after another year and a half of this?