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22 April 2010 Edition

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Crunchy Tory Nuts

I was enjoying my Saturday morning. The sun was streaming in through the window and a whole day of nothing to do was stretching before me. I sat at the kitchen table eating a bowl of crunchy nut corn flakes. The knowledge that they, and the milk in which they lay, were Roisín’s made them taste all the sweeter.
My aforementioned flatmate was sitting on the couch drinking a cup of coffee and flicking through a newspaper. All was quiet but for the chirping of the birds.
“Jules?” I glance up, wondering if she’s noticed her name is written in marker on the side of the cereal box but things seem calm, so I just nod to show I’d heard her.
“Jules, if you were English who would you vote for in the general election?” My head snaps up again and I take a closer look. To my astonishment, Roisín’s reading my copy of the Guardian, and not just any old part of it, but the election coverage. It’s like me reading Auto-Trader.
I suspect this has something to do with the crush she has on the new chef at her restaurant. He’s from Essex or Hull or somewhere over there. Still, I’ve always encouraged her to develop an interest in politics and it’s not as if it’s a hard question.
“Labour,” I declare, turning back to my cereal. “Or maybe the Greens if they had a chance of a seat but Labour, more or less.”

Silence from the couch. I take another spoonful of her crunchy nut, chuckling to myself as I do so. They really do taste too good.
“But didn’t Labour invade Iraq... and Afghanistan?” I look over again. She has a point. “And it says here they support privatising things. You don’t like that. And I remember you telling me they supported the Lisbon Treaty. And you called Tony Blair a scumbag. You said George Bush has his hand up his... bum.”
Mostly true. I actually called Blair something far worse and I didn’t use the word ‘bum’ but Roisín doesn’t like swearing. She thinks it’s common.
“Yeah Rosh, I mean that’s all true but they have a different voting system over there,” I point out, wondering if I should chance another bowl. “It’s not like here where you can choose between Sinn Féin and lots of other parties. It’s more or less Labour or Tory.”
She nods and turns back to the paper. I steal another bowl. Silence falls. I start to read Garret Fitzgerald’s column and almost immediately feel sleepy.
“Well, what about the Tories?”
The sound of my dropped spoon clattering against the bowl seems unnaturally loud.
“You... can’t... bluergh... Tory... evil... eerrn... vote... no....” I’m spluttering, unable to get the words out, trying to give voice to my inarticulate tribal loathing of Tories, people who vote for them, anyone who knows one and anyone who’s ever spoken to one for more than five minutes and not slapped him silly.
“You can’t vote Tory, Roisín,” I say, slowly and clearly, using her full name, letting her know this is serious; this is not something we will debate, let’s just get back to enjoying the morning shall we.
She blinks. Her eyes glance away. Then back to me. Then away. I can see it coming. Christ, she’s going to ask.
“Why can’t you vote Tory, though?”

For a moment, just a moment, my mind goes blank. And then it all comes rushing back.
“Because Thatcher was a war criminal, not a statesman. Because they’re war-mongering bastards who slaughtered a thousand poor Argentine conscripts on the Belgrano to boost her polling ratings.
“Because Bobby Sands starved to death in a prison cell, because they gunned down Maireád, Seán and Danny in Gibraltar, signed off on shoot-to-kill, armed the loyalists and assassinated Pat Finucane.
“Because they crippled their unions, spied on the miners and sent the cops in to beat them to the ground at Orgreave. Because she’d sooner starve mining families into submission that negotiate with them, sooner destroy an industry with millions unemployed than compromise with workers.
“Because they’re the personification of all that is evil, nasty, sly, slimy and despicable in humanity. Because wherever you find a cop hammering a black or a Traveller to the ground just because he can get away with it, you’ll find a Tory. Because they hate paddies and pakis and dagos and that’s what they call you when you can’t hear.
“Because they’re private educated Union Jack waving racists with a superiority complex and a chip on their shoulder. Because they’re greedy, selfish, small minded bigots who think poor people deserve to be poor and deserve to live in squalor and emptiness.
“Because they’re Tories and no matter what they say or do they can’t change.”
Of course, I don’t say any of that. It doesn’t do to scream at your flatmate. I just look over at her and gently say, “Just because Rosh, decent people just don’t vote Tory.”
She purses her lips for a moment and then nods. Fair enough so. But then her eyes narrow.
“Jules, is that my crunchy nut?”

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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