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5th February 2020

Confessions of a closet Tory

The results of the most recent election has made ‘closet tories’ feel more confident in revealing their true identity on campus, Ellie Martin reveals
Confessions of a closet Tory
Photo: Ellie Martin

After the results of the last election, Manchester Young Conservatives (MYC) have seen an increase in their membership and a higher turnout of old and new members. Has the landslide Conservative victory allowed shy Tory students to creep out from the woodwork?

Conservative student voters are famously reluctant to reveal their true political identity on campus, but nowhere more than Manchester. University campuses, especially anywhere north of Birmingham, are not seen as friendly places for the student Tory – forcing them into hiding amongst the left majority.

The students we spoke to, understandably, wished to remain anonymous. One student admitted to having lied on several occasions to housemates to avoid confrontation, or being labelled “Tory scum.” Another student complained about the teaching at the university, especially on humanities courses, as being decidedly left leaning.

“UoM, particularly SALC (School of Arts, Languages and Cultures) are massively influenced by the left. A lot of the material we are taught is looked at through a left-wing lens and lecturers put it across as if it is a correct way of thinking. Often I feel like I would like to offer a counter argument but I know I would be slaughtered by my classmates if I did.”

“Universities are seen as these hotbeds for Marxist thinking,” commented another student. “I don’t feel I can reveal myself as a conservative voter for fear of being ostracised.”

Being a student Tory also makes the dating scene in Manchester difficult to navigate. Many students express true horror at the thought of accidentally going home with a Tory on a night out. Imagine waking up in the morning to find a union jack decorating the wall and an unironic framed picture of them and Jeremy Hunt. One student Tory talked about his woes in love.

“I never know when to bring it up, if it doesn’t come out naturally on the first date. It’s a bit of an awkward subject, because you don’t know if it’s going to be a deal-breaker for them or not. I’ve had girls ghost me as soon as they find out, or make up excuses to not see me but I know what it is. It’s so much worse in Manchester than at home too, because of how left-wing students are generally.”

When is the appropriate time to casually mention you’re a Boris fan? Do you brandish your Conservative support on your hinge profile to deter any Corbynite partners, or do you wait until they’re invested in the relationship and then casually slip it into conversation?

Manchester Young Conservatives have a core active membership of about 40 amongst a student population of over 40,000. It’s a minuscule percentage of 0.001 per cent but MYC are reporting larger turnouts at events following the recent election results. Jake Feeley, President of MYC, said they’re seeing old members return and higher interest from new members. “There appears to be a much more positive attitude amongst my peers and indeed the rest of the country,” he said when commenting about the atmosphere on campus.

While the Conservatives gained many traditionally Labour seats, the constituencies populated by students, Manchester Central, Gorton and Withington, all remained safe for Labour. While the national feeling may be warming up to the Tory party, Conservative students are still living within a Labour stronghold. While in the past this may have deterred closet Tories, we may see more and more Conservative students revealing their true identities on campus.

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