How can anyone Irish vote for the Conservatives?
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How can anyone Irish vote for the Conservatives?

Why, I wonder, would anybody Irish vote for the Conservatives?

I’m sure they do, maybe not many, but I’m sure they do.

Indeed, judging by some of the letters received here after the referendum, some Irish people are very much on the right of British politics.

Some of them even read The Daily Mail. Which is beyond my powers of explanation.

In wondering that I’m not falling into some cliched trap about the wild, rebel Irish.

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Irish society in Ireland is historically very conservative. Irish politics in Ireland is historically and currently conservative.

We have two alternating parties of government. Fine Gael, the current government, are a right-wing conservative party by any measuring stick.

Fianna Fáil, currently supporting the minority Fine Gael government, are their mortal enemies and are themselves a centre right party.

A centre right party that is definitely more right than centre.

As is often said here we never had a revolution we just had an uprising and the uprising was simply a change of government.

Irishmen instead of Englishmen, but conservative Irishmen instead of conservative Englishmen.

For instance, we have never had an NHS-building or welfare-installing government.

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Of course, they counter, we’ve never had the money, but is that to really say post-war Britain had lots of cash floating around?

What we’ve never had is the radical political will.

Radical, that is, if you think health care, irrespective of income, is radical.

No, the Irish voting Conservative is not hard to understand because the Irish are coming from some kind of left-wing background. They aren’t.

The Irish in Britain voting Conservative is bewildering because it just seems natural to me that the ultra-Englishness the Conservative Party has always embodied would be something the Irish were immune to.

Especially now.

Voting Brexit is one thing. The longer Brexit has gone on the reasons people voted for it have become clearer.

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They were either bigots or they had an incoherent, though perhaps justifiable, anger that they allowed to be used by those who sought to blame the EU for everything.

As there are no factual economic or cultural reasons for voting to Leave, I can’t see how you can argue otherwise.

So maybe the bigoted Irish, or those whose anger cannot be abated by facts, maybe they will vote Conservative.

Maybe they will respond to Boris Johnson’s Get Brexit done inanity.

And, however bewildering that is, it is those Irish who vote Conservative for any reason beyond it that are still, truly, a challenge to understanding.

For instance, what kind of Irish person finds the cartoon Englishness of Johnson and Rees Mogg, never mind that of the ultra-Tory-not-in-the-Tory-party Farage, appealing?

How does that condescending false politeness and fake intelligence convince Irish people? Because, after all, it is not even aimed at you.

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The British Conservative Party has never been a friend of the Irish immigrant. That is not conjecture. Irish people in Britain may have faced many forms of hostility and anti-Irish prejudice in the past and if there was any political party that opposed that it was not the Conservative Party.

Again, that is not conjecture.

Indeed, long before it was fashionable, and despite whatever else you might think of him, Jeremy Corbyn really was a friend of beleaguered Irish people.

In that way he represented a strong strand of Labour Party thought.

There is definitively no corresponding strand in the Conservative Party.

Indeed, if we are being precise, there has been, instead, a strand of identifiable hostility to the Irish within the Conservative Party.

So I ask not out of bewilderment at how anybody could vote for a party led by a man who is a confirmed liar, whose personal behaviour is at the least questionable, and who has led such a gilded life that his understanding of everyday existence must be limited.

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I ask how any Irish person in Britain can vote Conservative because in doing so they are behaving in a way that suggests historical amnesia.

By voting Conservative they are embracing, as Irish people, such a narrow idea of Englishness that it doesn’t even apply to most English people.

Voting conservative is one thing. It might reflect a pretty dim view of human nature but that’s a debate for another day.

Voting for the current Conservative Party in Britain, though, if you are Irish is so utterly beyond explanation I can’t offer one.