Advertisement
Tory Week

I Lived as a Tory for a Week, Day Three: Canvassing

There's a mix up at a constituency HQ and Oobah ends up drumming up support for the local MP.

by Oobah Butler; photos by Jake Lewis
01 June 2017, 8:00am


As part of our week on Britain's fastest growing subculture, Tories, I've spent a week undercover to try and unpick their mysteries. By experiencing their behaviour firsthand I hope to understand them better so that we may one day live amongst them.

Day One: Mansion Viewing
Day Two: Cricket Festival

I've spent my week taking part in Tory leisure, lifestyle and culture rituals so I can best understand their bizarre, mysterious ways. Yet, from ketchup stains on my cricket whites to the plop of a Slipknot wallet chain into a champagne flute, in terms of assimilation I've fallen at every hurdle.

So how, tell me, did I end up here?

It looks like success, doesn't it? Like I've actually completely fooled a Tory MP. Well, I have, by mistake, sort of, but it's far more complex than that.

I should bring you up to scratch. I've been speaking with London Universities' Conservatives Society for weeks, trying to sort out a social event I could get drunk with them at. I've been told to be at their HQ in Harrow West on a Saturday morning. From the moment I'm buzzed in, it's utterly bizarre.

Shrines to Theresa May, stacks of Cadbury Milk Trays and the dank stench of a classroom, but it's this particular bit of propaganda aimed at kids I'm entranced by:

The Tories: manipulating LEGO cards in order to justify to a child their grandfather's fierce "rivers of blood" recitals.

"Morning, we spoke with Jack* – we're with VICE."

"Great, give me a second."

"Do you mind if we take a few photos?"

"By all means."

So I stand and wait, a little unsure quite how I should hold myself.

"Right, so you two are going to be going here. It's walking distance."

"Wait, we're going to be canvassing?"

"Yes, is that OK?"

"Jack didn't mention it, but I mean… I guess?"

"Great. So everybody on this clipboard should be a confirmed Conservative voter. We just need to see whether they've sent off their postal votes. Everything you need is on the script."

So now I find myself at this door, shaking. I've unwittingly fooled the Tories; completed my task. And now I'm in this strange position of power, clutching onto a map charting that most elusive character: The Secret Tory.

I ring the door bell and swallow. A lady – dusty grey hair and a long necklace – opens the door. I look at the script.

"Hi, is that First Name?"

"Sorry?"

"I mean, hello… Diane?"

"My name is not Diane."

"I'm sorry. I have Jack Wills pants on because I'm a Tory."

Her face darkens, and I'm expecting a knuckle to the jaw. Then she starts giggling. "She has my vote, don't worry! Best of luck!"

I feel uncomfortable. Kind of like when you eat an apple core and feel it struggling to pass down your oesophagus. Is this that "shame" feeling people have been telling me about?

I nervously barked "I have Jack Wills pants on" and I got her name wrong, and the lady still didn't care. She is still voting Tory. This is unwitting resilience to win. I'm starting to understand how they do it.

Another lady over the age of 60 opens the door. I go off script.

"Hi there, do you know who you are voting for yet?"

"Yes," she says under her breath. "Conservative."

"Why is that?"

"I always have. I'm a country girl and it's at my roots."

"What policy do you like?"

"All of them."

"Any in particular?" She half shrugs. "Cool. And if there's one message you could send to Theresa, what would it be?"

"Good luck!"

Next, a few roads over, the youngest lady I'll speak with today answers the door. She looks to be in her mid-forties and has recently become "unsure" about voting. Why?

"Well, it started with all the stuff with the dementia tax." I look down at the script. There is an arsenal of things to say if this comes up. I ignore them.

"Anything else?"

"I think [Theresa]'s the best leader. But I don't know. I wish the whole party was just more..."

"Socially progressive?" I jump in.

"Yes, that's it." She continues to admit that she's leaning towards the Liberal Democrats. I glibly nod.

More knocks bring more safe voters. Eventually, I come to another undecided lady.

"I've never voted Tory before. I'm not a Tory voter. My daughter is a staunch member of the Green Party, and I thought the coalition was a disaster," she says. "But, I think this time around I will end up voting Tory, I think."

Why? "Well, which leader am I going to vote for? Jeremy Corbyn, I absolutely despise. Tim Fallon [sic] seems a bit weak."

"What do you like about Theresa May?"

"I don't know. I don't even like her. But I just think she seems a bit more… statesmanlike?"

Later, walking down the road, I hear a whisper: "Let's pray to God she wins, boys."

A built, squat bald man in flip-flops and a vest walks close. "I'm ex-military."

"Which policy do you like?"

"I just know that, if he wins, it's Armageddon. There's no going back."

The guy crosses the road. This is the climate. This is the debate. I don't want to be a Tory any more; I need to get out of the hex that is this fucking T-shirt. I head back to HQ.

Handing over my strange, incoherent intel to the group, I feel a weight off my shoulders.

"Are you doing the afternoon session?"

No.

"How did it go?" the Tory councillor actually in red trousers asks me.

"Not amazingly – I screwed the board up."

"Oh well. I wouldn't be too worried. It's not all about the canvassing; it's just being seen out and about in the shirts, looking like a normal person." He smiles, blankly, and looks deep into my eyes. "That's what's the most effective thing for us."

Dear god: they'd got exactly what they wanted. A human.

And there you have it: my lowest moment captured on camera. My principles in tatters on the floor. I'd finally done it. I'd become a Tory.

*Name has been changed.

@oobahs

Tagged:
democracy
Conservatives
tories
Oh Snap
canvassing
General Election 2017
Hannah David