How to…keep your friends during the elections

Oxford is a place full of opinion. And as that fatal Election Day draws closer, opinions are ubiquitous. The problem? With opinions, comes conflict. And if you’re not careful, you will find yourself on the wrong side of the metaphorical battle-shield. But that’s okay. Because once more, I’m here. And once more, I’ve got a fool-proof resolution.

The first thing to know is that the support of political parties is a lot like supporting a football team. When you’re watching a political debate on TV, the umms and aahs, and the interspersion of indignation and celebration, are much like a Man City vs Man United match. Just like football, support is a badge of honour. You must not offend someone’s badge of honour.

And, just like football, often the support is a pleasant imbalance between arbitrary selection and forceful following. But that makes it even more dangerous.There are several league teams, but really the fans are all the same. So the advice is a happy generalisation.

Firstly, be careful not to say too much. If two opposing supporters chat to each other, they might work you out. Instead, you’re going to need to do a lot of nodding. This will assure them that you think they are clever and correct. Try raising your eyebrows expressively during lengthy rants. I would recommend achieving an expressively sincere and understanding vibe with your eyebrows. If you don’t parallel them in their voting choices, you will need to be prepared to respond to questions about who you are voting for.

Generally diversion tactics are incredibly fruitful. I find a handy line to use is often “Is that a dodo!? The extinct, flightless bird, whose scientific name is raphus cucullatus?” Whilst they are looking for said dodo, slip away. Be stealthy.

If the friend becomes suspicious at any time, the easiest remedy is to make a joke about UKIP. UKIP stands for the ‘United Kingdom’s Idiotic Party’, and consists of a team of extremely bitter white men who probably don’t like puppies, but definitely do like elevating anything made of that superior gilded British ingredient.

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“Might just vote UKIP lol,” or, “Ha I met someone who is voting UKIP the other day! What an imbecile.” This will eradicate all tension into nervous revulsion and giggles. If the person responds by explaining that they are in fact going to vote UKIP, then please don’t bother sending me letters of complaint. For if they respond by saying they are a UKIP supporter, then there ceases to be a problem.

Because at that point they cease to be your friend. And although this might create a miserably awkward environment, that’s not for this week’s advice column.