At the start of 2019, few but the politically committed used the term “woke”. If they’d heard it at all, most people would have assumed it had something to do with insomnia.

“Woke” only entered the Oxford English Dictionary last year as meaning “alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice”. Like its parent “politically correct”, woke is a passion of the urban left. It is PC for the age of LGBTQIA+.

The Guardian suggested “woke” as word of the year, which arguably it should be, though not for the reason it thinks. For woke has changed meaning in the last 12 months, and become a term of derision, referring to a style of self-righteous, right-on thinking favoured by, well, Guardian columnists. It is now used to denote the metropolitan identity politics that contributed to Labour’s greatest defeat since the 1930s.

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No-one is sure where the word “woke” came from, except that it emerged from African-American vernacular for “staying alert”, as in “stay woke, brother”. In recent years it was adopted by the BlackLivesMatter movement with their hashtag #staywoke – meaning keeping black issues uppermost on social media.

It was soon adopted by white millennials to emblemise not just racial awareness but a whole identitarian outlook on life. Woke expresses the ultra-feminist, multi-ethnic, gender non-conforming culture fashionable in American and UK campuses.

Woke people love people of colour and loathe “straight white males”, “gammon” and “boomers”. They adore so-called “non-binary” people who claim not to identify with any gender. No-one is quite sure what non-binary means. Do they swing both ways? No, that’s bisexual. Are they transgender? Definitely not, and nor are they intersex. It’s one of life’s mysteries to many folk who are less woke.

Wokeness has recently taken the media and advertising world by storm. Companies eager to keep up with the zeitgeist waste no chance to wave the rainbow flag and include multi-ethnic themes. This is sometimes called “woke-washing”. Every TV advert from McDonald’s to John Lewis now has to feature a multi-racial family, as if the advertisers believe having two white people on one sofa is racism.

The BBC drama Years And Years was kind of Woke Family Robinson. Black profes­sional mother, trans­gender daughter, gay cousin, asylum-seeker boyfriend, disabled sister ... all fighting the good fight against the emerging fascism of Brexit Britain. This compendium of woke identitarianism came complete with a middle-aged white dad. He naturally emerged as a morally worthless, adulterous creep, fit only to be punished by losing all his money.

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Woke is easy to satirise and has been, mercilessly, by the comedian Andrew Doyle with his social media creation, Titania McGrath. She is a 24-year-old middle-class gender studies graduate, obsessed by her imagined victimhood, who identifies as an ecosexual, non-binary person of colour and fights for social justice by writing bad poetry. “The only thing that’s white about me,” says Titania, “is my skin.”

She firmly believes women can have penises and that people should have electronic chips inserted in their brains to report heterosexual thinking. Men who have sexual dreams are guilty of rape, according to Titania.

Woke folk thought Titania was the product of the homophobic, alt-right, fascist MSM (mainstream media) – or did until her creator, a gay Labour voter, was exposed last year. She is one of the great satirical creations of the century, just don’t expect Doyle to get invited on to The Mash Report.

Woke is no joke. The left’s penchant for strict identity politics, and the exotic fringes of LGBTQIA+ has had political consequences. The social media assault on “white working-class” Brexit voters as racists and bigots was a factor in the alienation of traditional Labour constituencies. People in Bolsover, Workington and Sedgefield don’t much like being portrayed as fascists. Who knew?

There is a sanctimoniousness and intolerance about woke culture that is itself sometimes redolent of the authoritarian right, especially its approach to language. Anyone who mistakenly says “coloured people” instead of “people of colour”, for example, will be ostracised. Pronouns must be obeyed. Feminist academics are no-platformed if they question whether transwomen are biologically female.

Barack Obama warned the Democratic Party to avoid this “woke” politics with its “cancel culture”. This is the practice of social justice warriors on Twitter demonising anyone who fails to conform to their particular form of non-conformism. If Trump wins again, it will in part because the Democrats haven’t listened.

There is an anti-science, quasi-religious aspect to woke. Woke biology insists that sex is not innate but is “attributed” at birth – as if every child is born transgender. During the General Election campaign, the Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson tried, with disastrous results, to defend the woke dogma that biological sex doesn’t exist.

Woke wars are raging in the Scottish National Party and have been since Nicola Sturgeon declared her support for self-ID – a law change to allow transgender people to self-identify as women without the need for medical intervention or convincing evidence that they have lived as women.

There has been a vigorous reaction against this from feminists in and out of the SNP. They fear women’s refuges, changing rooms and prisons are liable to be invaded by men declaring themselves to be female. They also resent being called “cis” by wokeasians, as if women are merely a subset of their own sex.

The General Election has not caused any obvious soul-searching among the woke cadres. Indeed, the verdict of Guardian writer Paul Mason was a pitch-perfect expression of the woke worldview. The election was, he declared, “a victory of the old over the young; racists over people of colour; selfishness over the planet”.

Such is the firm belief of the morally superior who spend their lives in an echo chamber saving the world from imagined hate crimes. It will take more than a landslide defeat to persuade them otherwise.