Rebecca Roache, Research Fellow and Senior Research Associate at Oxford, was moved to anger by the Conservative victory in the recent British election.
One of the first things I did after seeing the depressing election news this morning was check to see which of my Facebook friends â€˜likeâ€™ the pages of the Conservatives or David Cameron, and unfriend them. (Thankfully, none of my friends â€˜likeâ€™ the UKIP page.) Life is too short, I thought, to hang out with people who hold abhorrent political views, even if itâ€™s just online. …
[T]he view that I have arrived at today is that openly supporting a political party thatâ€”in the name of austerityâ€”withdraws support from the poor, the sick, the foreign, and the unemployed while rewarding those in society who are least in need of reward, that sells off our profitable public goods to private companies while keeping the loss-making ones in the public domain, that boasts about cleaning up the economy while creating more new debt than every Labour government combined, that wants to scrap the Human Rights Act and (via the TTIP) hand sovereignty over some of our most important public institutions to big businessâ€”to express oneâ€™s support for a political party that does these things is as objectionable as expressing racist, sexist, or homophobic views. Racism, sexism, and homophobia are not simply misguided views like any other; views that we can hope to change through reasoned debate (although we can try to do that). They are offensive views. They are views that lose you friends and respectâ€”and the fact that they are socially unacceptable views helps discourage people from holding (or at least expressing) them, even where reasoned debate fails. Sometimes the stick is more effective than the carrot.
For these reasons, Iâ€™m tired of reasoned debate about politicsâ€”at least for a day or two. I donâ€™t want to be friends with racists, sexists, or homophobes. And I donâ€™t want to be friends with Conservatives either.