My report for Cherwell. My left-wing friends who were there tell me, with gritted teeth, that he was dead nice.
I was quite pleased with this story, both because it’s a great scoop and because it came so easily. I was checking my twitter feed late one evening and saw an invite to Robinson made by an Oxford fresher – later confirmed to be a member of Secretary’s Committee – that had been retweeted by someone I follow.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with invites to nasties like Griffin and Robinson for well-rehearsed reasons of defending the principle of free speech. I suspect that a silent, but large, majority of Oxford Union members agree, even if a vocal minority of Oxford students (disproportionally represented at OUSU, the student union) vociferously don’t.
As an interesting aside, this story was evidently shared widely on social media – including on EDL forums. Several of the comments underneath the article, odious as they are, are worth reading in full.
It was a classic sort of student protest: lots of sitting down, talking, eating and with absolutely no chance of success. Great atmosphere.
It depresses me just a little that articles like these – which The Tab in particular specialises in – are always so much more popular than Serious News Stories.
But it was great fun to write. The pictures are brilliant.
Someone – I can’t remember who – said afterwards that it was great Guido Fawkes material. So I emailed Alex Wickham, from the Guido Fawkes blog, and the article was featured on their ‘seen elsewhere’ column for a day or two.
It’s of course unfair of me to label this just ‘Another OUCA story…’ when that’s very much not the headline that appears.
Here’s the text online. There was substance to warrant a story: an OUCA officer had been unfairly disciplined and, on a separate note, we had a witness to attest to a bit of sexism at Port and Policy, the society’s weekly port-sodden debating fixture. There was not substance though to warrant the Watergate-esque ‘Revealed: The OUCA files’ headline. It over-promised sensation to the reader and was a bit tabloid, which isn’t Cherwell’s style. So I do have regrets about the way that story was framed.
I had just returned to Oxford for the start of Trinity term, a few days before in fact in order to do some groundwork setting up the new Cherwell.
After unpacking my stuff I was showing Bob, our super-friendly gardener who drove me down, around the Oxford Union. We were looking at the framed photographs – the one the Union covets most including the Queen and Ronald Reagan – outside the Union bar.
I bumped into James Price, a chap in the year above who I know a little, who was reading something on his phone – looking, if he’ll forgive me for saying, a little feverish. Thatcher had just died.
It was pleasant – I won’t be so hyperbolic as to say ‘a privilege’ – to cover with Jon Epstein, a fantastically eccentric American abroad, Thatcher’s death from an Oxford University point of view. This was, after all, the place in which she first encountered the Establishment that, little more than three decades later, she would uproot and dominate.
I gave Bob a slightly rushed tour of the Union. We had time to look at some of the older committee photos, which were conspicuously absent of women. Despite being President of OUCA in 1946, Thatcher was barred from the Union by virtue of her gender. That finally changed in 1963.
I’m really proud of the feature we ran in the paper two weeks later. It was put together by Cherwell-ites Rosie, Lara and Helena with graphical assistance from Xin and Anna, then deputy editors. Unfortunately the Cherwell website doesn’t allow the sort of design tools that we’re able to employ in print, but here’s a photo of it here.
We tracked the changing role and experience of female undergraduates at Oxford since – and including – the time when Thatcher was at Somerville. For balance we included a comment piece that attacked the notion that Thatcher improved the position of women in society.
Here’s when Oxford University Conservatives got their ‘U’ back.
Written for Cherwell about Christian Concern, the controversial religious group linked to “homophobic” attitudes, using Trinity College for its annual ‘Wilberforce Academy’.
Cherwell report from March 2013.
Written (at high speed!) for Cherwell. Galloway had arrived two hours late for the debate (I almost left in impatience), which I was attending in anticipation of some fiery words from both sides. In fact there were very few, as the Respect MP stormed off to cries of “racism” early upon learning that Eylon holds Israeli citizenship.