It’s tough being a Tory at university

Why is everyone so surprised when they learn I voted Conservative?


A little over two months and numerous exams ago, many of us closed our textbooks and gave ourselves a night off from revision for the most important political event of the year. Pollsters said it was going to be the closest election for decades, but for many first-time voters the choice was relatively straight-forward. In my case, I’d known my political inclination since the age of 14.

I, along with 11.35 million other people, voted Conservative. Given the size of that number, and the fact a Tab poll found almost half of my uni planned to vote Tory, you wouldn’t think my decision would be perceived as maverick. However, tell anyone I voted for Cameron and co and they look at me very strangely.

Being a Tory at university means dealing with a variety of reactions from people: sometimes diplomatic, sometimes shady, often negative. I’ve even been asked if I’m evil. The person in question acted like I’d just stolen their drink or burnt them with a cigarette. If I’m honest, it was quite amusing.

Tories can have fun too

Tories can have fun too

One friend responded to the news simply by saying “Oh”. It turned out they’d never met a Conservative voter before, which might be why their expression made it seem like I’d said something obscene. Even complete strangers feel the need to weigh in. While walking down the road discussing the Labour leadership election with a friend, I said I found the contest interesting even though I don’t vote for them. A passer-by butted in to tell me: “Well, you would vote for them if you weren’t privileged.” I was taken aback. This person had no idea who I was or what I do.

These incidents are of course not representative of everyone, but the vocal minority are so loud sometimes it’s deafening. Conservative students may seem like a hard concept to grasp at first, but trust me we exist. You just don’t notice us as often. Despite marches and protests being a common student activity, they aren’t really our thing. All that shouting is terribly loud and most of my shoes start to rub if I walk for too long. Also, most protest signs aren’t even funny.

In many ways, the Conservatives should be the natural student party. Like the Tories, students know all too well not to spend more money than you have and many of us believe in the principle of tuition fees (even if they are eye-watering). After all, many of us have siblings who decided not to go to uni and why should they subsidise us? The loan system exists so anybody can go to uni but countless people just don’t get this. The phrase “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” springs to mind.

So before you criticise, mock and deride student Tories, understand we’re not evil. We don’t believe in shutting down the NHS or leaving people to starve on the street. Very few of us can ride a horse and, quite frankly, even less of us have any idea when pheasant-hunting season is. The angry reaction some people have to us is as bad as the religious right in America who call Barack Obama a communist and question where he was born. We can do better.