The tireless men and women of YouGov have just done an intriguing poll on the impact of party affiliation on friendship in the UK. They asked respondents from each of the four main parties (apologies to the Greens) whether their friendship with someone would be affected if that person happened to become a supporter of the Conservatives, Labour, the Lib Dems, or UKIP, respectively (they did also ask about the Greens). In the case of the Conservatives, for example, respondents from each party were asked, "How would you feel if a good friend of yours became a supporter of the Conservative Party?" The four possible response categories were:
I would agree and would find it easier to be friends with them.
I would agree, but it wouldn't make any difference to our friendship.
I would disagree, but it wouldn't make any difference to our friendship.
I would disagree and would find it harder to be friends with them.
The chart below plots the percentage of respondents from each party who answered, "I would disagree and would find it harder to be friends with them." Interestingly, 40% or more of Labour and Lib Dem supporters said they would find it would harder to be friends with someone who became a UKIP supporter; among Conservative supporters, the figure was 13%. In contrast, no more than 10% of UKIP supporters said they would find it harder to be friends with someone who became a supporter of one of the other parties. The comparison between Conservative and Labour supporters is also interesting. Only 5% of Conservative supporters said they would find it harder to be friends with someone who became a Labour supporter, yet 14% of Labour supporters said they would find it harder to be friends with someone who became a Tory.
These results are perhaps not too surprising, given that UKIP are the new "Nasty Party", while the Conservatives are the old "Nasty Party". In addition, they are consistent with the recent finding by Pew Research that Americans who identify as "consistently liberal" (meaning progressive) are the most likely to say they have hidden, blocked or de-friended someone on Facebook because they disagreed with something that person posted about politics. Though I am not a UKIP supporter, I do whole-heartedly concur with Thomas Jefferson on the matter of politics and friendship:
"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend."