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I am writing a contemporary theatre play where one character - a senior businessman - first introduces himself as a not particularly conservative person. Later in the play, his protégé finds that the businessman is in fact deeply conservative and wants to express his anger over the deception. I'm therefore looking for a british word that can insult Tories or conservative persons in general, emphasising that it is the conservativeness that the insulter takes objection of.

I started with "Twit", which might remind of Monty Python's "Upper Class Twit of the Year", but I have the feeling, that this is not a particularly strong insult these days. Since I'm not a native speaker, I have trouble in general estimating the strength of insults.

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    I forgot to say, yes, it is contemporary. How about strengthening "Twit" to "F**ing twit"?
    – Turion
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 11:17
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    Oh, that's good, and "twat" is popular, too. I believe it is much more offensive in the US, but in the UK I'd consider it almost tame. You should watch the TV series "In the thick of it". It's on YouTube. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thick_of_It
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 11:20
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    Wow, what an offensive question. You froward folly-fallen coxcomb!
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 12:34
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    @RegDwigнt: I never noticed this question before. I'm astonished it's survived. How long do you suppose How to insult a Christian/Muslim/religious Jew (or people holding a theistic viewpoint in general)? would last? Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 3:55
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    @FumbleFingers, do you actually think that these people will do an internet search before they go and insult someone?
    – Turion
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 16:43

4 Answers 4

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You could of course just stick Tory in front of a more general insult of whatever degree of forcefulness you desire, from "Tory twit" through "Tory bastard" and "Tory fucker" to "Tory cunt".

If your character leans quite a bit to the left, then they might well abuse the term "fascist" as an insult for a Tory. If your character leant further to the left, they might even earnestly consider your Tory character to be a fascist.

Or you could stack a variety of terms about views more likely to be held by Tories than someone further left, in the opinion of someone on the left, (traditionally at least, some of the following could be said as easily about New Labour); "war-mongering, profiteering, granny-starving, gay-bashing, women-hating, racist fear-mongering, Tory fucker".

Or if it's the 17th Century, you could just use Tory (the word is originally an insult).

Edit: Mari-Lou's comment made me think of a more specific and subtler insult, which is "Disgusted of Tubridge-Wells".

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    Or add something about being a "Daily Telegraph reader" but I wouldn't know how to phrase it. (Top notch answer btw)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 11:18
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    "F*ing profiteering Daily-Telegraph-reading Tory twit!", or something like that. I'm getting there I guess. Maybe I'll leave a footnote for the actors to optionally "upgrade" to "Tory bastard".
    – Turion
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 11:24
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    @Mari-LouA "Daily Telegraph reader" can certainly be taken as such an insult, with "Daily Mail reader" being a stronger insult with a stronger degree of credulity and knee-jerk reaction implied; strong enough that even many Conservatives would consider it an insult on its own (not all Tories are so mentally benighted as to think the Daily Mail has anything but the most tenuous connection to reality). You've also made me think of another one to add.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 11:26
  • I'd say rather than having a footnote suggesting actors increase the degree of venom, write at the degree you are aiming at, and let the director choose to tone it down if they think it necessary for their audience. Certainly, I would't be surprised at hearing much stronger language than bastard in the theatre.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 11:33
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You could considering using an insult generator.

You could adapt Eric Heffer's description of the Tory government:

They are nothing else but a load kippers - two-faced, with no guts.

The two-faced chiming in with the businessman's earlier attempts at appearing different from what he really is.

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How about comparison: He's so far right-wing he makes Margaret Thatcher look like a Liberal.

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It's worth pointing out that the word "Tory" is itself often used by opponents of the Conservative party as an insult. I am a Conservative activist in the UK, and I recently discovered that, in their internal polling system, the Labour Party uses the letter "T" to denote "Conservative". In contrast, in our internal polling system, we use the letter "C" to denote the Conservative Party. Interestingly, we use the letter "S" - for "socialist" - to denote "Labour" in our system (with "L" meaning Lib Dem), as we have historically considered that to be an insult.

It should be pointed out, however, that many Conservative activists - myself included - don't view the word "Tory" as an insulting term, and in fact wear it with pride.

If this seems confusing, it's because the word "Tory" refers to a specific kind of conservative ideology in the UK (and North America) which predates the contemporary Conservative Party. The Conservative Party was formed out of the historical Tory Party by Prime Minister Robert Peel in the 19th Century, and this represented a significant ideological as well as cosmetic change. The "Conservative Party" came to represent a blended ideology which included parts of the ideology of both the historical Tories and the historical Whigs. As time progressed, this fusion of ideology deepened as two things - Irish nationalism and, later, the rise of socialism - led to more and more supporters of the (historical) Liberal Party (which represented views which today would be - roughly - thought of as right-wing libertarian) joining the Conservatives and thus increasing the "Conservative" commitment to the historically "liberal" values of free markets, capitalism, etc - which the Tory Party had always viewed with some suspicion as vulgar and disruptive to the social order.

However, many of us Conservatives still feel a strong sense of affinity with the historical Tory Party and (to some degree) its ideology, which, among other things, ended child labour, was crucial to the abolition of slavery and emphasises British Unionism, patriotism and the empire - particularly affinity with the "Dominions" of Canada/Australia, etc - which is why the Canadian Conservatives are also called "Tories".

Basically (simplifying massively), "Conservative" refers more to the modern, Thatcher/Reagan-style conservatism of free markets, individual liberty and social conservatism in the "family values" American sense. "Tory", on the other hand, refers more to traditional, British conservatism in the sense of the monarchy, slower social evolution, a hierarchical (but benevolent) social structure, the establishment of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland (technically a "national", rather than "established" church) and (historically) support for British imperialism. To some degree, many British Conservative/Tory supporters feel an affinity with both identities. Complicating things further, some modern Conservatives will pointedly correct you if you call them Tories, and tell you that they are proud Whigs!

In "class" terms, historically, the Tory Party also represented more the petty aristocracy and middle-class merchants, whereas the Whigs represented more the elite aristocrats and wealthy industrialists, although this see-sawed a lot throughout history and was never anything like that simple.

This is a very brief summation of a very complex issue, which whole books could be written about. If you are writing fiction, you are probably safe to assume that Conservative supporters will refer to themselves as "Conservatives", while their opponents will refer to them as "Tories" as an insult - but be aware that this is a massive simplification.

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    I would also add that journalists/reporters will often use the word "Tory", only for the purposes of linguistic variation. E.g. my local newspaper will write: "Conservative Councillor John Smith..." in one sentence, and then follow up with "the Tory councillor said that...". This is just because journalists like to avoid using words repeatedly for ease of reading. Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 20:03
  • Why has this has been downvoted? This is a detailed and relevant response to the OP's question, drawing on my personal knowledge as a British political activist. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 11:57

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