Over the summer there was something of a kerfuffle about whether you can be friends with someone who actively supports a different political party. The debate was triggered by Laura Pidock, the new Labour MP for North West Durham, who claimed that, referring to Conservatives, ‘I have absolutely no intention of being friends with any of them’. As Parliament was in recess, meaning politicos had to look elsewhere for scandal and controversy, Pidock’s comments triggered a debate which continues to rage.
Last week Sophie Warrener, a young Conservative activist, joined the discussion with a Tweet about her best friend being a Labour supporter which soon went viral (see below). The Tweet attracted 2,600 retweets and 10,600 likes. But it also also led to Sophie being sent death and rape threats. We spoke to Sophie about the experience, and why she thinks people of different political beliefs should be able to be friends (and spoiler alert – she’s right).
Sophie explained that she had known Rose, her Labour supporting friend, since primary school and ‘we’ve been best friends ever since’. She noted that during secondary school they had ‘developed polar opposite views’ but that ‘it had never been a problem…I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her voting Labour and I wouldn’t dream of cutting her off as a friend just because she votes that way’.
Commenting on Laura Pidock claim that she doesn’t want to be friends Conservatives Sophie asserted ‘I couldn’t understand it. But it made me realise that the friendship Rose and I have is actually quite rare in today’s politics. We always talk about politics whenever we see each other, but we never get angry about each other’s views. If anything, we fill in the gaps of each other’s understanding and help each other look at various things from a different perspective’.
However she was shocked by the ‘overwhelming’ response, both positive and negative. She received ‘death and rape threats’ that were ‘quite horrific’ but at the same time ‘the support was incredible’ and ‘the sheer amount of positivity and love we had received meant so much to both of us’.
A couple of days ago Labour MP Mike Amesbury waded into the debate to say that he ‘won’t be drinking buddies’ with Tories. We disagree. The idea that you can’t be friends with people you disagree with is a self-defeating prejudice. Don’t be like Mike. Be more like Sophie and Rose.