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‘Frustrating as I can never see it from their angle’: What it’s like to love a Tory

‘Fuck the Tories’… except my Tory best friend

It's easy to hate the idea of Tories – it's even easy to hate the government as a collective – but when it comes to individuals, things can get a bit more complicated, especially when you're faced with the uncomfortable reality that those closest to you could be gearing up to put an X in that Conservative box.

Many would say they simply don't associate with Tories in the first place, but no one really goes through life screening everyone they meet for their political allegiance first – you can't say "Tories swipe left" IRL.

So – how do people react when they do find themselves in this situation. When they're faced with living with a Tory? Being mates with a Tory? Or even dating a Tory? We asked a handful of students for their take on being up close and personal with someone who shares completely the opposite political views.

Alex, 23, Leeds

"One of the reasons I broke up with my ex is because he became a raging Tory overnight. I was most angry because it demonstrates such closed-mindedness and a complete inability to empathise with people in harder situations than you.

"He came from a poor background but then his dad suddenly made loads of money from a company, so when he found out he would be inheriting it, he didn't want to have to pay the high tax brackets. It was all just incredibly selfish."

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Alex, 21, Sheffield

"One of my mates at uni is a Tory and it's a bit frustrating at times. When I'm in the pub and mentioning the impact that austerity has had on homelessness, the NHS, etc. he just shrugs it off.

"The key thing is that they're actually nice people. Fair enough if they believe in neo-liberalism and the free market, I just don't see how they're not concerned about food banks, homelessness, disability benefit cuts, etc.

"It's frustrating as I can never see it from their angle. I end up just not mentioning it, otherwise I get too annoyed and I don't want to be patronising."

Charlie, 21, Leeds

"I was shocked when I found out one of my best friends was voting Tory. I didn't think I was the type to let politics dictate how I felt about someone – especially someone close to me – but after I found out I couldn't stop thinking about it.

"My heart kind of dropped when she told me. She's so compassionate, kind, and empathetic, so this makes no sense. And then I beat myself up for having these patronising thoughts, questioning her rationale and thinking her logic is flawed just for voting Tory.

"I think she would gain a lot from voting Labour – or anything left of the Tories – but there's no changing her mind. I'm resolving to ignore it all, which is unsatisfying, but it's stressing me out too much to even think about it."

Robbie, 20, Leeds

"I do try and change my housemate's mind but I understand why he's stuck in his ways- it's because of Corbyn.

"It's also hard to make him change his mind when he justifies all his decisions with "it's a dog eat dog world". He can't understand why anyone would be a leftie. It's just annoying."

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Sarah, 21, Leeds

"I went for dinner with some girls on my course and one of them started saying that she understands why her friends/family vote Conservative – because they want to maintain the status quo and their sense of security by making sure things stay the same.

"But she didn’t seem to understand how privileged that outlook is, as things are getting progressively worse and less stable for the majority of people who are more affected by austerity."

Tilly, 20, Manchester

"I have a very good friend who is a hardcore Tory. When we do [discuss politics] I have to make a conscious effort to curb what I'm saying.

"She's said before "Jeremy Corbyn as PM would ruin my families' lives" which, in my opinion, just isn't true.

"I think what I find hardest is that I know her as a very caring and compassionate person so I find it hard to reconcile that she could actively vote for a party who are the antithesis of these values.

"I just find it so frustrating that she doesn't recognise her privilege. I really strongly believe that if you've had the chances to do well in life you should help give those chances to someone who wasn't so lucky, but evidently she doesn't see it that way."

Nelly, 21, Leeds

"My group of close friends at home is definitely an echo chamber – everyone falls somewhere between left-of-centre to pretty far left (like me). I do however have Conservative friends and family members and honestly it's never posed an issue before, as I love a good debate.

"I'm more conflicted about this election though. The current Tories are being endorsed by Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins, and then you have MPs who served under Margaret-fucking-Thatcher advising people to cast their vote elsewhere.

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"The Tories are emboldening the far-right, eroding our democracy and utterly failing to act on the climate crisis – they're as far from one-nation conservatism as is conceivably possible and it's genuinely terrifying.

"I hold Johnson and his cabinet in utter contempt, but I won't say the same for Conservative voters. The Conservative election campaign has been founded on disinformation and downright lying, and you can't blame citizens for that.

"I would encourage people on the left to keep having debates with people who hold opposing views, admittedly, I'd never date a Tory though."