CORRECTION: The individual who was punched has contacted LabourList to deny that he leaked the story to the student press and informs us that it was the former President of OUCA, not the current President, who attacked him.
If David Cameron really wants to show that the Conservative Party has changed, some sound advice might be to tell the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) to shut up and keep quiet.
I preface this by saying there are many good, decent and ‘sound’ members of the Association; they are honest conservatives and simply possess an ideology that is different to our own.
Some, however, (and I emphasise that it is a minority) truly are sexist, (at least casually) racist, snobbish scumbags. They’re not joking, they’re not being ironic and they deserve to be outed and shown up for the out of touch sorry anachronism that they truly are.
Barely a year goes by here in Oxford without an embarrassing story from the Association and this year is no different. During this year’s hustings for the Assocation’s termly elections, the candidates were asked the question no doubt on everyone’s minds, as to the most racist joke they knew and what was their least favourite minority.
Responses varied, one candidate responding with a joke about a black person hanging in a family tree and another coming up with this hilarious ditty: ‘What do you say when you see a television moving around in the dark? Drop it n*****’ . Words fail me.
You’d have thought the leaders of tomorrow might have had a little more sensitivity after the election of two BNP MEPs. One member has since resigned, but few know that the President apparently decided to take ‘disciplinary matters’ into his own hands by punching the guy who leaked the story to the student press.
Had this been a mere isolated incident, we could all overlook it as an example of ill judged and immature student hi-jinks; alas, this isn’t the first time.
In 2004 OUCA’s Treasurer was expelled for making racist comments about India and in 2000 four members shocked the university by making ‘Nazi style salutes’ at a meeting. Its sexism is also notorious; its weekly meetings, ‘Port and Policy’, are infamous for their rowdy sexist outbursts. On the OUCA section of the website ‘Oxford Gossip’ a current popular poll asks its readers to choose their ‘hottest OUCA babe.’ Recently, one OUCA female member said of the organisation: “It seems that the men are there to do the debating and the women to pour the port.” Most offensive of all is how these members believe that this prejudice is simply ‘banter.’ Rather, such sexist (and to a lesser extent) racist attitudes are embedded and institutionalised.
Why does any of this matter? It matters because this is a society that tells its members that they are likely to be the Tory frontbenchers of tomorrow; indeed, they probably will be. Former presidents of OUCA include Margaret Thatcher (its patron), William Hague (its honourary president), Ted Heath, Jonathan Aitken, Lord Rees-Mogg and William Waldegrave, to name but a few.
Make no mistake, future Tory benches will be made up of a fair share of OUCA alumni. We all ought to be worried that the club that sent Margaret Thatcher into the political world seems to have regressed into a sorry anachronism of gentlemen’s Baldwinesque backroom conservatism, rather than a university branch of an apparently changed and renewed party. If these are the people to make up the Conservative governments of tomorrow, we should all care what is going on and what action they take.
OUCA and its members need to change. The members I’m talking about here have dragged the association to dark depths. They are living, breathing Tory twit stereotypes, the like of which I would not have believed still existed before studying at the university. They give Conservatives, Oxford and (quite frankly) human beings a bad name.
After the story broke, Michael Howard – who was due to address their end of term meal – pulled out after expressing his disgust at the events. I call on William Hague and Baroness Thatcher to likewise withdraw their names as honourary president and patron respectively. If nothing else, it would do their former club a lot of good, giving an impetus to eject some of the morons and reform the club. At least that way, the sexist, racist Oxford Tories won’t ever get off the ground. It would do OUCA, Oxford and ultimately the country, an awful lot of good.
Shadow Secretary of State Liam Fox is due to speak at an OUCA event tomorrow night, June 16th.