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Young Tories can’t find a place to live

A woman walks past EU flags in Southwark. Credit: Getty Images

November 22, 2019 - 8:04am

Filed under ‘London is full of insufferable, awful people’: Charlotte Gill in the Telegraph looks at one problem with flat-hunting.

Perhaps the most specific advert on SpareRoom is for an expensive loft room in a “stunning mews home”. The advertiser said she wanted “an easy going, open minded professional” to rent the place, while demanding the candidate is pro-choice, a requirement that could rule out tenants of certain religious identities.

She continued: “You should appreciate science – so no climate deniers or anti vaxxers. 🙂 Worldly enough to know that there are bigger issues going on than the misery that is Brexit.”

- Charlotte Gill

This is almost certainly a growing trend; the Economist recently covered research showing that large and increasing numbers of Americans do not want to live with supporters of the opposing political party.

This “partyism” spreads into every area of life, so that since 2016 there has been a big growth in dating apps matching people based on political preferences.

Dating site OkCupid has pointed out that since 2016 the number of women who prioritised shared political views over enjoyable sex had doubled, a shift the company described as ‘unprecedented’.

Already the proportion of Americans marrying people with the same political views has increased in recent years, from 72 per cent to 82 per cent, and will rise further because large numbers object now to family members ‘marrying out’.

While in 1960 just 5 per cent of Republicans and 4 per cent of Democrats said they’d be ‘upset’ if a child married a member of the other party, that figure is now 49 and 33 per cent respectively.

The same pattern is developing in Britain, too, so from 2008 to 2016 the proportion who said they would be upset with a child marrying a member of the other main party doubled, although here the left is significantly more sectarian. Some 28% of Labour supporters are hostile to the idea, compared to 19% of Tories.

But the gaps opened by the Brexit referendum are even worse, and getting worse; in 2016, 18 per cent of Remainers said they would be unhappy with a Leaver in-law, compared to just 3 per cent of Brexiteers. By 2019, this figure had risen to 37 per cent of Remainers, and 11 per cent of the other side.

Is there a cure? Yes, education; that is, less education. While “education reduces individuals’ prejudices toward people who belong to different groups” — when it comes to race — according to analysis of American National Election Studies data also shows that education is related “to increases in ideological (liberal vs. conservative) prejudice”.

The English-speaking world’s obsession with mass university attendance is terrible for a number of reasons, but polarisation is certainly up a major one.

Ed West’s book Tory Boy is published by Constable


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