Print it out and keep it close to you as Polling Day approaches.
Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/PA Images
What is a Tory? Well, at surface level, it's someone who votes Conservative. But it's also deeper than that, something more fundamental, a certain ethereal Toriness that emanates from the bones: Toryism is washing your BMW every single Sunday, and having full package Sky without ever calling to negotiate a deal, and owning more than one pair of walking boots, and thinking deep down that poor children, disabled people and immigrants should all be shot and killed. It's joining rotary clubs and putting your dog in for Crufts and only shopping at Aldi and Lidl once the Daily Mail has been there and said it's safe to do so. And it's hard to exactly define who or what a Tory is – there are millions of them, walking amongst us, silently hating everyone who isn't rich – but this rough spotter's guide should help identify the worst of them. Enjoy it.
At first glance, Gun Tory is just a Country Tory, really – tweed, Barbour jacket, refers to their house as a "pile" or "farmstead", runs a decently profitable B&B from the side of their house, all four kids are called Barney and in the same private school their dad went to, Land Rover, daddy was a Lord – but hoo boy, does Gun Tory have some opinions about foxes. "Vile creature, vermin," they are saying, idly reading a leaflet. They have special hunting jodhpurs and this special trumpet they are very mad the government won't let them blow. "It's a way of life, though, is what they don't understand." Yes, you nod along, of course. Nothing like shattering a small creature with gunfire after it has been run ragged by dogs. Nothing like the thrill of it. Have you ever been to the IMAX, Gun Tory? I just think that maybe you'd get as much if not more of a thrill out of that. "No, hunting is… hunting is something else." They go misty-eyed and distant. Hold on, look at that leaflet they're holding: it's not about foxes at all. It's… a UKIP leaflet? About how immigration is ruining this country? Is… is this how it starts? How many years until we switch the gunfire rhetoric from foxes to foreigners? Five years? Ten?
Hard to tell with Secret Tories whether they are actual Tories or not, because:
– Get really aggressively obsessed with and write to the council about recycling == could be Green
– Very politely and quietly acquiesces when a waiter is rude to them in a restaurant == could be Lib Dem
– Nice car == they just have a nice car
– Nice house == they just have a nice house
– Keep saying Britain's Got Talent should be for 'British people only' == could be UKIP
– Sound lads who have you round for a barbecue and put on a really good spread of meats, salads, sides and desserts w/ free beer for all == could just be nice
– Also serve Pimm's == could be a Conservative MP
So it's difficult, obviously. Secret Tories move amongst us like aliens wearing human skin, and there are certain thin pulse points – the wrists, the crooks of the elbow – where the façade wears just thin enough for it to crack and fail. For example: one really good way to pull a Shy Tory out of their shell is to say the words "grammar schools". Another is to mention child benefits spending in the UK. Maybe you could tease a shy Tory out by playing a Gary Barlow song and seeing if they hum along. Mention that you've filled your ISA allowance for the year and see if they know any tax tricks. Here's a good one: mention Uber. Shy Tories haven't even heard of Uber because they all have Addison Lee accounts tacked to their work phone. They literally no nothing of the zero hours economy and the way the cab industry is flailing and changing. "You can charge your phone in an Addy Lee," Secret Tories say. "Why would I get this… what's it, again? Uber?" And that's where you've got them – now dig down and ask them what they really think about benefits claimants and watch them spew blue.
First thing you will notice about the Drunk Tory is their shirt sleeves are rolled to the elbows. Tories, in their natural and sober state, have an almost pathological need to show their forearms: look at a Tory Dad at rest and he will be wearing a long-sleeved zip-thru from Blacks over a TM Lewin shirt, rolled right up. The elbow roll signifies one of two things: they are a politician on the campaign trail, in the last three days before a vote, and it is past 10PM on a 14-hour day (the Tory, in rolled shirt sleeves, will use their newly exposed arms to behold and kiss a baby, or they will raise them to clap above their heads, frothing the crowd into a peaked texture by flashing a glimpse of their underarm sweat patch); or, it means the Tory is drunk. It is possible, but rare, for it to be both.
Tories get drunk at a 15-degree more acute angle than people with souls do. Tories get drunk on wine and cognac and champagne, rather than fizzy pints of beer. At some point during a sesh, depending on the age of the Tory in question, they will either take a large expensive cigar out of their jacket pocket and slowly sniff up and down the length of it; or they will get Extremely Stuck In to two to three grams of Very Good Gear. Drunk Tories, as they age, grow pink-then-red in the face, spreading like a veiny blush down through the rest of their body. The breath of Drunk Tories is warm and stale in the same way a country pub carpet is. Drunk Tories have even less of a touch on the reality of money and the value of money than Regular Tories, meaning they frequently rack up bar bills in the hundreds then fall asleep mid-shit in the disabled toilets and leave you blurrily paying the tab. Drunk Tories, in the grand scheme of Tories, are amongst the most benign Tories, mostly harmless and fundamentally blithe, but they are also – and get this, duality fans – they are also possibly the worst.
You know City Tory because he barged past you at the bar last night and starting simultaneously clicking, tutting and waving a £20 note around (how do you click and wave a note with the same hand? Vote for Theresa May this election and you will just be imbued with the skill; you won't have to learn it) before leeringly trying to shag either you or any of your nearby female mates. "Wagwan, girlies," the City Tory says, two bottles of what he not-even-ironically refers to as "bubbly" in both hands. "Let's say you, me and this bottle of Moet get to know each other in the VIP sectch?" The VIP section is a small roped off area of the bar that the City Tory paid up to £800 to secure. Once you're in there, the City Tory tells you about his "assets", how many times he's met Spencer from Made in Chelsea ("Four, and my ex- shagged him once before she got on me so we're technically eskimo bros"), and how many times he's been promoted at work this year (three). He will then invite you to a desolate grey-and-chrome tenth floor new-build flat in Canary Wharf where you'll do cocaine off a really good coffee table and get shagged doggy-style before he gets you a 3AM Uber home. Do you feel bad about yourself? You do feel sort of bad about yourself. But what is life without regrets.
Weird kid who looks sort of like a shrunken Michael Gove and sincerely gives you the vibe that, even at 14, he still breastfeeds now and again. Rarely have to worry about him and his Little Gents® Baby's First Suit unless he goes on TV to make a speech about how poor kids don't want to do well at their GCSEs, actually, and is held up as the glowing yung light and the future of the Conservative party. Then you have to worry. Then you have to worry a lot.
Mummy Tory is essentially very harmless – she likes baking cakes and volunteering to be on the school board and does the Big Shop at M&S as if that isn't the world's most ultimate flex and takes like seven holidays a year – until one day she just flips one-eighty on the spot and, like, full on says the N-word, or spits in a homeless person's cup, or goes on Newsnight to say immigrant children should be either deported or shot. She wears a lot of floaty chiffon scarves and tracks Gwyneth Paltrow's haircut exactly two years after Gwyneth Paltrow does it.
That guy across the road from you who only gets vocal about setting up a Neighbourhood Watch patrol when an Indian family moves in two doors down. NIMBY Tory is pro-greenbelt, anti-third runway, pro-putting "VOTE CONSERVATIVE" signs up in his immaculately clippered lawn and pro-knocking on your door and asking you to turn the TV down after 10PM on a Wednesday. He will definitely, definitely have a rage heart attack and die the day they announce a black Bond.
Essex Tory doesn't really know why he votes Tory; he just knows his dad started doing it the exact moment he started making money and it's gone on from there. "Yeah I'm voting for the winners," Essex Tory says, in his white jeans/white loafers, knotted jumper over blue dress shirt, deep tan, gives every Marbella holiday a "Fingering Score'"out of ten look. "It's just what you do, isn't it? Back the winners." Could go either way with this one: he'll either get ten years for intent to supply or move in after six weeks of dating one of the girls off TOWIE.
Extremely puce-in-the-face sturdy lad who is thick through the torso in a way you can only get when you dine on partridge, caviar, champagne and nanny's teat from an early, early age, the Aristocritory lives or at least stands to inherit some exquisite Downton Abbey-style Grade II multi-mansion out in the middle of Buckinghamshire or something, but for now they just flop around their Knightsbridge flat doing good gear and waiting for daddy to die. Aristocritories are about the 1 percent of people alive who are allowed to have any sort of legitimate beef with the inheritance tax, but are so fundamentally to-the-bones rich that they are actually above it, instead expending most of their conversational energy explaining how country mansions are more of a blessing than a curse, actually ("Roof upkeep alone is in the low six figs, bruh") and test-driving Rolls Royces. It is entirely possible they are technically a lord and have just forgotten about it.
"Fiscally conservative, morally liberal!" says the Liberal Tory, one of only 15 people in the UK who thought the coalition government was good. Sincerely thinks the mantra "people shouldn't have babies if they can't afford them" is an effective form of birth control.
This is the kid in your halls called Jacob who wants you to take him to a grime night and trades in his J Crew chinos for a full head-to-toe adidas outfit before you've even unpacked your mattress protector. "Yah," he says, "me and the boys bun hella zoots. You got a weed hook-up?" You do not. "Safe, safe." He peels a single £20 off a thick wad mummy left in an envelope to pay your halls' resident dealer, whose eyes bulge out of his head and invites you both to come hotbox in his Fiat. "I just love how, like, authentic it is here?" Jacob says, gesturing at Durham University. "The people, the places… the things." You invite him to play football and he picks the ball up and runs with it. You ask someone for a lift to the big Tesco and he offers to take you in his M-Series. He gets Deliveroo for dinner every single night. "What do, like, poor people do for entertainment?" he says, heaving a backpack onto your bed after a weekend spent back home with the rowing club. You rack your brains. They go to the pub? You end up doing your first ever line with him in a toilet cubicle at a student bar called, always, "Varsity", and you sort of get close to becoming actual mates with him, until he finds a group of other poor-passing Tories to hang out with and they spend the next three years alternately switching from history to social studies, planning and holding club nights with £25 entry fees and having sex with waifish private school-educated Jack Wills shop girls called Eve. Even when they're poor they're richer than you. In 15 years he will be your local MP.
You know a Facebook Tory, because if you've been good you've been purging most of them apart from your bad uncles for weeks now: they are the most likely to do an "Okay, guys… can you so-called liberals explain to me THIS" status on Facebook with some false facts about JSA spend and then cry off the website entirely when a 60-reply comment thread systematically proves them wrong. "Right, if nobody can explain this to me while being CIVIL" is their rallying cry. Facebook Tories: the Tories so Tory they think being called an idiot on social media is worse than dying of benefits cuts.
Anyway, only six more days to go!