Friendships at breaking point

Kate Ellison 5 May 2015

In the high-pressure environment of a Cambridge Easter Term, our collegiate system and the support it brings becomes ever more important. Yet as the General Election approaches, college cohesion breaks down; once united behind a shared Ryder & Amies scarf, political allegiance now reigns supreme. As the British suddenly remember their love for tennis as Wimbledon hits their screens, suddenly everyone has an opinion on the parties and talk of the 7th of May dominates the dinner table. However, while we can all normally agree on which player to back in a tournament – there rarely being more than one for Britain – we’re instead faced with a myriad of potential leaders and futures. This isn’t just a ball being bounced back and forth, but the future of the nation, and there is no consensus on which way it should be hit.

The huge variety of responses to voting means that there is seldom a chance to escape. The dedication from some members of the college to make sure you don’t can be astounding. For months our pigeonholes and JCRs have been bombarded with registration cards and reminders, our newsfeeds bursting with pointed messages and links. The friction between these enthusiasts and the unconverted is tangible, especially the poor souls not voting in the UK, bearing the silent duty of constant flyer disposal. For them the overloud discussions in hall over the merits of different voting strategies become rather a moot point.

There are those that take this dynamism a step further. Like Percy Weasley and his beloved Mr Crouch (#HarryPotterReference #Wetherby) the political candidate of their choosing can do no wrong in their eyes. They seize every opportunity to tell you about the lovely barbeque they held or the way he/she has with children, speaking unnecessarily loudly as they pass you the potato dish. The election consumes their lives and should be doing the same to yours. I mean, have you even met the person you’re voting for? How can you live with that knowledge? Like many things at Cambridge, voting acquires an almost competitive edge. But sometimes we just want a quiet meal – what’s your essay on? Games of Thrones gossip anyone? Please?

However, this has nothing on when beliefs clash. Forget nagging over dinner, this becomes a figurative food fight of policies. We are forced to duck under our seats as referendum demands and tuition fees allegations are hurled back and forth, occasionally finding their targets and sparking argument. Again like Wimbledon, we are left wondering whether we should challenge some of these questionable choices or bite our tongues and save it for the next round. The air can never be cleared, as with each new blunder all eyes turn to you- naturally through supporting a party’s policies you also agree with that stupid thing an MP said in the commons. It can be enormously frustrating.

Yet as the end of campaigning draws near, we find that we’ve all more or less made it through. Election drinking games start to be debated and REAL parties planned throughout the whole University. We’ve all had the opportunity to have our voices heard, if only over the dinner table, and sweet college tranquility will soon be restored.