Well, you see, I’ve got this, um, friend. Not me, you understand, but a friend, a very good friend as a matter of fact. Known him a long time. All my life actually, he’s like a brother, except, well, he’s not. And, er, he’s done something, something that perhaps he doesn’t feel too proud of, but he doesn’t know why. It felt right at the time. God knows, he’s been feeling that way for a long time, visited by thoughts and feelings which perhaps he couldn’t explain to himself, but it certainly didn’t feel exactly wrong as such (in fact, after such a long time of denial, it felt positively good!). And still he doesn’t know why what he did was so wrong, he doesn’t think it was wrong, but everyone that knows about it seems to think it was. Society has weighed him and measured him, and society has found him wanting.
So what did my friend do? He voted Tory at the general election, which for some reason is about as socially acceptable as cracking a paedo joke on a council estate.
Now let me get to the point. I want your opinion for an article I’m writing about the stigma of voting Tory. Why should this be? Why is it that voting Labour or Liberal Democrat is something people can do freely and admit to without a second thought – indeed some will boast of as a badge of honour - but voting Conservative is something dreadfully furtive, to be conducted in shameful, self-conscious secrecy, rather like that thing the French do when they stuff tiny songbirds in their mouths whole, bones, beaks and all the filthy buggers, with a teatowel over their head?
And let us make no bones about this. It could be that because of his job and background, my friend, ahem, naturally knows people who are generally more left-leaning than the average, but there most definitely does exist a taint to being a Conservative supporter.
Consider the election of 1992: while returning the Conservative government with a clear overall majority, many thousands of Tory voters couldn’t bring themselves to tell the truth to a complete stranger, according to exit polls.
Or indeed, consider the most recent election: In my constituency, the Liberal Democrat and the Conservative vote were for the second time very close, yet to judge from the front-garden billboards in the area – a sea of orange, interspersed only very occasionally with a speck of blue – the Liberal Democrat candidate should have swept in on a surge of support with an utter drubbing for the Tories.
So come on people, what’s the problem with voting Tory? Is there some residual inherent mark of Cain left over from a more class-stricken age, when grotesque privilege equated to outright exploitation? Or is there perhaps a natural bias in the protestant work ethic? Is it Thatcher? Or do we just dislike Tories as a group, on general principles, rather as my grandparents distrusted anyone who wasn’t white, British and working-class?
As I said, this is something of a crowdsourcing exercise (albeit not exactly scientific, given the sample group) and I really would be interested in getting as many answers as possible. So if you would, leave a comment, send an email, dispatch a courier pigeon etc etc, I would really value your opinion. Please feel free to make it anonymous if you want. Rest assured, I shall treat what opinions are expressed privately in complete confidence.