The 2019 general election has been one of the most divisive in political history, with online abuse rife on all sides. As we try to move forward and remember the importance of our shared values, three women reveal the reasons they backed Boris Johnson at the ballot box – and share their hopes for the future.
It will also go down in history as one of the most divisive elections of our time, with increasing anger and frustration vented on all sides.
For many left-leaning voters, the prospect of Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister for the next five years was too much to bear – especially after his ignorant comments about Muslim women and single mothers. But those to the right also feared Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the accusations of anti-semitism and sexual harassment from within his own party. Battle lines were drawn and an ugly campaign ensued, with many of us struggling to align ourselves fully to any of the names on our ballot papers.
As the dust settles on a Conservative landslide, and a new parliament reconvenes, now feels like the right time to hear each other out.
With that in mind, three female Conservative voters share their reasons for backing Johnson in the 2019 general election – and the abuse they have suffered as a result. Their experiences make for essential reading, whether you agree with their viewpoint or not.
As one of the woman told Stylist: “I hope we can return to a time where we can discuss ideas without fear”. Surely that has to be a driving force for us all now, regardless of who we voted for.
“People think I must be evil to vote Conservative”: Maggie*, 33
“I am not a first time Conservative voter, but I have also voted for other parties in the past.
This time around I was largely voting not Jeremy Corbyn and not left ideological – against Labour policies that I thought would sink the country into huge debt. I do not agree with renationalising as I think it breeds inefficiency, and I have no idea where he was going to get the money from to put those plans into place. In my opinion, the Liberal Democrats did not stand a chance and were not worth voting for.
I am not a huge fan of Johnson, either. I think he is arrogant and power hungry, but perhaps his ego will push Brexit through and the country can move on. I had a number of friends who asked me how I could vote for Johnson considering his bigoted views. I certainly don’t think he is without fault, but Corbyn is also bigoted. Therefore if that had been a reason not to vote for someone, we would be very limited in choice.
I don’t post much on social media at all, but a lot of my friends do. I would say the majority of the posts I see are of the liberal and socialist view, but that is probably because I live in a middle class London bubble. I think there is also a real negative connotation around voting Conservative. [People think] I must be evil or I don’t care about the many or the poor, but in fact that is just not true.
People have forgotten that no party represents anyone’s views perfectly and you have to vote for what is put in front of you. I believe in both a benefit state and funding the NHS, which is not in line with the public perception of Tories.”
“I see Boris as a doer who will fulfil his promises”: Preeti, 40
“I have always been a Conservative at heart, but I decided to become a party member this year to support Brexit because it was looking like an endless saga. Brexit triggered sentiments and it was evident that one had to come out openly with one’s political affiliations.
As the debates kept raging in Parliament, Johnson inspired confidence as the only one who could find a solution to the log-jam. He is charismatic and I see him as a doer who will fulfil his promises.
Three items in the manifesto particularly resonated with me: the guarantee to provide extra funding for the NHS along with the 20,000 more police and tougher sentencing for criminals. I have been engaged with GP services and the NHS and can understand the huge difference it will make to patients to have additional hospitals, nurses and doctors. Also, we live in uncertain times and nothing can be more reassuring than to see a larger number of our brave policemen in uniform on the streets.
I have been a victim of online abuse, particularly on Twitter. Even a simple show of support has drawn messages like ‘you are a clown’. I faced threats and abuse while canvassing on the streets, including name calling by men in a car. I also know about a fellow female Conservative candidate who was abused while canvassing in her constituency. It was scary, but I carried on supporting the Conservative party.
I really want Brexit to get resolved as soon as possible because we all seem to be in a limbo. It would be so nice to move forward and see our parliament focusing on key issues for our country.”
“This was the first election where I felt genuinely scared of the result”: Lucy, 31
“I’ve voted Conservative since I was 18 and, while I’m not a member of the party, I’ve always believed strongly in their values. However, I do not vote out of tribalism. Every time there is an election, I reflect on my beliefs and challenge them. So far, no other party has aligned to my views enough in order to convince me to vote for them, and least of all in this election.
Principally, I believe in freedom. I believe in lower taxes (or in the case of this manifesto, no increase in tax) because there should be a reward for working hard. People should keep more money in their pockets and shouldn’t be deterred from progressing up the career ladder. But this is not in self-interest, as is a popular opinion among the hard left. I understand why they feel that more taxation means there’s more money to help those in need – but this can, in the long run, serve to hold people back. Conservatives truly believe in social mobility. They want people to see and feel the value in working hard and achieving.
Only with a strong economy can the government properly invest in our public services like the NHS. Because, and I wish Labour voters would believe this, most Tories don’t want to privatise the NHS. It wouldn’t be moral or practical.
I also firmly back the pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050 – legally binding legislation brought in by the Conservatives. We do urgently need to do something about climate change, and only a strong economy can deliver the investment needed into green energy, technology and infrastructure.
Now for the less positive stuff. This was the first general election where I have felt genuinely scared of the result. Labour voters do not have the monopoly of fearing the opposition. Socialism has never been demonstrated to work, but what really shook me to my core was how Labour voters (and specifically Momentum types) were willing to ignore the allegations of anti-semitism levied at Corbyn. This should be enough of a reason to deem someone unfit to hold public office – if this isn’t the line, what is?
And so came the exit poll, and so too did the true views of some Labour voters. I refuse to live in an echo chamber, so my social media was a swamp of derisive, patronising snobbery. So much for wanting to help the working class. Instead, people across the country who voted Tory, in traditional Labour heartlands, were called ‘stupid’, ‘class traitors’ or ‘racist’.
I have friends at all points on the political spectrum, some of whom I can calmly discuss politics with, others I cannot. People I call friends have spoken to me in a way I wouldn’t dream of doing in return purely because we ascribe to different political ideologies. A kinder, gentler politics? I beg to differ. I hope we can return to a time where we can discuss ideas without fear.
“The Conservative party got in as it offered something the other parties didn’t – it was the only party willing to honour the Brexit referendum result. But equally, it showed itself to be the real party of hope for the many, not the few – one which believes in empowering people to better their own lives through opportunity and prosperity.”
*Name has been changed.
Images: Getty, Preeti Rani