After the shocking results from the general election last week, Theresa May announced outside 10 Downing Street that her Conservative party will join forces with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to form a majority government.
BuzzFeed News spoke to five young Conservative supporters who were mostly critical of the move to work with the DUP, given its stance on social issues like LGBT rights and abortion. James Godwin, a 19-year-old student from Oxford, said, "The DUP are awful."
"I hope this 'pact' doesn't last too long or that the DUP don't hold May to ransom on social issues," he said. "Not only do I think that would be against my views, but having Northern Ireland determine what is allowed in England is a bit silly."
Emily Topping, a young Tory supporter from Manchester, said she was "gutted" about the election result. When asked about the new deal with the DUP, she said: "I think it’s a step in the wrong direction to associate with a political party that doesn’t support gay rights and abortion.”
But Salman Anwar, a 21-year-old student from Hull, said May had little choice given she didn't win a majority of seats in the election: "The DUP aren’t great, their views on social issues are awful, but here we are. Every party has had to try and do deals with them in the past."
Like many, Anwar was taken back by the results last Friday. He was at a cross-party election party when the exit polls were announced, and said he and his Conservative friends were "stunned into silence" for 15 minutes.
Zaînab Hussain, a 21-year-old student, said the DUP "definitely hold views which aren't quite exactly in line with ours". However, defending her party, she said: "We must remember that we are lucky to have [Scottish Tory leader] Ruth Davidson's brilliant political influence on board – [she's] an advocate of LGBT rights and gay marriage."
The snap election caused an undeniable buzz among young people engaging with politics, with stars such as JME and Lily Allen and grime supporters pushing Grime4Corbyn to support Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
But the energy behind that movement – especially on Twitter – led some to ask where all the young Conservative supporters were online.
Anwar, the president of the Conservatives Association at Hull University, said: "I think that’s true about young Labour people being active online."
He added: "Young Tories can sometimes be a bit stuffy. By stuffy I mean not that fun, the type of people that unironically would support Jacob Rees-Mogg."
However, he said not all young Tories are like that, and suggested: "Maybe more ‘normal’ young Tories need to come to the forefront."
Most young Conservative supporters are on private Facebook groups rather than on Twitter, he said. Hussain said she is a part of these online societies and that they are a "great hub for friendly debates".
Anwar and Hussain say they have borne the full brunt of people online being critical of people of colour who are Conservative supporters.
Anwar, who is British-Pakistani, said he's been told the reason he is a Tory supporter is because "I hate myself". "They say that because they see the Conservative party as anti-BME," he said, "but I really don't see that. Maybe it might've been applicable decades ago but the party has really moved on."
Hussain, whose family background is from Sunderland, Pakistan, and the Caucasus, said she has also received online abuse for being a vocal Tory supporter: "I'm often accustomed to receiving comments either in jest or just plain patronisation."
She added: "These can range from anything along the lines of 'Labour are nicer to brown people' to 'You're basically helping a party ethnically cleanse your own kind'."
Godwin says you're made to feel like an "outcast" online if you're young and not supporting Labour, so in turn you are less likely to post.
As a young Tory, he said, he has faced stereotypes such as being wealthy, being privately educated, and not having faced adversity.
“Someone once tweeted me ‘It’s okay that you feel tuition fees aren’t as bad as they say because mummy and daddy will pay for you’," he said. Godwin went to a local state school and says his family are not rich.
Nevertheless, Godwin proudly supports the Conservative party and has a banner with the party's name on it on his Twitter display picture.
Topping says another reason Tory supporters are less visible online is because there are fewer of them. She says that she has endured “horrendous abuse” from being active online, and also wrote a blog post about her experience.
“I’ve been told to die and that I deserve to watch my family die a painful death," she said. "I’ve received some name calling as well. It’s quite amusing because the people that send the abuse won’t have a reasonable discussion regarding opinions." She said she has reported most of this abuse.
Godwin said he wished the Conservatives had used social media more in their election campaign. "The fact that Corbyn had a Snapchat filter would have really appealed to some and the Conservatives, on a marketing front, really missed out on that."
Sarah James, a 20-year-old student from Lancashire, told BuzzFeed News that she was torn on who to vote for, but saw some Tory policies that she really liked so voted for them. "My parents own their own business so corporation tax was a big thing for me," she said.
Despite being a Tory supporter, she feels Conservative politicians need to engage with young people more.
"I feel as if Theresa May did partially ignore the young vote," she said: "I live in one of the safest Tory seats in the country and not once did I see any of the candidates. My friends and I feel as though we are ignored, which showed due to the fact the Labour vote grew a lot."
"I think the most crucial lesson we have learned from the election is that we cannot underestimate the youth vote," Hussain said.
She added: "The one area Corbyn tapped into, that my party weren't so successful in, was social media.
"He was able to tap into the 'world' of young people and subsequently [pick] up votes. He made them feel engaged, considered and valued. I cannot fault him on that." She added, however: "I believe young people were swayed into voting for 'free stuff'".
Topping said she was "mortified" when she heard May tell a nurse in a BBC Question Time audience that "there isn't a magic money tree". Topping said this was "condescending".
Anwar said he agreed with May's decision to call for a snap election, "but didn’t expect that godawful campaign".
He said the party focused on talking about the dementia tax and fox hunting rather than concentrating on "popular ideas, like an energy cap" to help win over young people.
"It was just a terrible campaign that ended up with 'I might be a bit shit but Corbyn's worse'. No real offer," Anwar said.
Echoing what Anwar said, Topping said the Conservative campaign focused too much on Corbyn.
"The Conservatives lost the election because of May," she said. "She has never been a great leader, [and] she chose to use the mantra 'Strong and stable' but then refused to debate head to head with any other leaders. This caused that motto become meaningless."
Victoria Sanusi is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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