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  1. Politics
1 September 2009

Tory boys in trouble

Oxford University cuts its links with young Conservatives

By Mehdi Hasan

The Daily Mail reports:

Oxford University has banned its students’ Conservative Association from using its name after a race row.

The university has severed all links with the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) and ordered it to change its name.

OUCA, which boasts Margaret Thatcher as its patron and William Hague as Honorary President, was embroiled in a scandal in June when student politicians were urged to compete to see who could tell the most offensive racist joke.

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Nick Gallagher, the group’s publications officer, was asked to repeat “the most inappropriate joke you have ever told” as part of a drunken hustings for the next president of the body.

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He said: “What do you say when you see a television moving around in the dark? Drop it, n****r, or I’ll shoot you!”

Three cheers for Oxford University! It’s about time the powers that be took some sort of action against the loons, wackos and wingnuts of OUCA. I witnessed their mad antics as a student at Oxford in the late 1990s — I vividly remember a Tory boy named John Storey who, in the words of the Oxford Student newspaper, once disrupted a student union meeting with “Nazi-style salutes, cries of ‘Viva Pinochet’ and alleged drunken behaviour”. (If you want to get a taste of the right-wingery and antisocial behaviour of OUCA and its members over the years, check out the detailed Wikipedia entry here.)

The Mail also reports:

The Conservatives said OUCA was not part of the party, although many association members were also members of the party.

A spokesman said: “People who behave in this disgusting and reprehensible way have no place in the Conservative Party.”

This is entirely predictable — and wholly inaccurate. Despite repeated denials and evasions by Central Office, the fact is that the nutjobs of OUCA have always found a home in the official Conservative Party. As the blogger Paul Sagar noted in June:

. . . this official excuse of non-affiliation is hard to square with the Conservative Party’s friendly relations with OUCA. In 2008 five members of the shadow cabinet — including David Cameron and George Osborne — spoke at OUCA meetings. This year alone, John Redwood, Michael Gove, Viscount Monckton, newly re-elected Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, Edward Leigh (chair of the über-right-wing Cornerstone group) and former Tory leader Michael Howard have all spoken at OUCA.

But then, it’s hardly surprising that OUCA and the Conservative Party are on such friendly terms. OUCA’s alumni include Margaret Thatcher, William Hague, Jonathan Aitken, Lord Rees-Mogg and Daniel Hannan.

OUCA is a breeding ground for future Tory stars. It is not a fringe organisation trying to jump on the Establishment bandwagon, it’s the youth wing of the national party. That’s why so many top Tory politicians were members, and why so many still attend OUCA events. Yet time and again OUCA members are exposed as racists.

Over to you, Tory party spokesman . . .