Young, right and part of the fight
Tonight’s BBC documentary is going to be a bloodbath for the right says our UK Political Editor Harry Cole. With the help of Joe Armitage, he explains why
Once again the BBC has decided to make a documentary exploring British youth on the right. Once again they have gone to that bastion of obnoxious Tory boys known as Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA): the home of a particularly voter-repellent sliver of the right in this country.
No doubt this will be part of BBC2’s justification against accusations of bias. By all means, make documentaries about right-wingers from state school backgrounds, but was it really necessary to find the two most Tory Boy-esque they could?
Take a look at the BBC preview for tonight’s Young, Bright and on the Right:
“Do state school children feel they have any real chance of getting on in the Conservative Party? We followed two ex-comprehensive school pupils who got involved at Oxbridge universities.
"The whole point of the Conservative Association is it gives you a chance to pretend to be a member of the upper classes for an afternoon," says Chris Monk, a second year Cambridge University student, who is dreaming of scaling the heights of Tory politics by joining the association.”
I know dozens of Tories who have interesting backgrounds yet don’t spend their days dressing up like Sebastian Flyte in a charity shop. It’s pathetic for the BBC to target this small clique. Why not profile some girls? It’s lazy and cheap.
OUCA and Cambridge Union Conservative Association (CUCA) are not representative of the right in this country. They are rarely representative of the right at Oxford or Cambridge.
Anyone with hopes of high office and half a brain would stay well away from OUCA. Yes some of this country’s greatest politicians came up through their ranks, but in recent years accusations of racism and borderline fascism have seen the party and supporters rightly run to the hills.
If you think I am being melodramatic, let me share with you the thoughts of Joe Armitage, a sensible right-wing, young man who decided to pay a visit to one of Oxford Tories’ Port and Policy evenings. As you can see from reading his thoughts below, tonight’s documentary is going to be a bloodbath:
“As someone who's from a fairly ordinary background it's fair to say the goings on at the OUCA weren’t exactly clear in my mind. Sure, we’ve all heard ghastly rumours about Nazi songs being sung and state-educated people being abashed, but I never expected any of the stories to be accurate - I was wrong.
I was invited to a Sunday Port and Policy discussion by a decent chap I met at a Conservative Future event in London. Taking him up on the offer, I decided to invite a friend who’s studying PPE at Hertford who's a member of the union. The only problem with her attending the OUCA event was the small anomaly of her being a socialist and republican.
I was told by my OUCA friend that the Port and Policy event would be held in the Macmillan Room; my socialist friend was not sure where this room was located so we had to wander a bit before actually finding it.
We waited outside the room for 15 minutes, it was 8:45pm, 15 minutes after the event was meant to have started. Luckily – or not, depending how you look at it – a chap dressed in what looked like pyjama trousers and a tweed jacket came up to us and enquired as to whether we were attending the OUCA event.
We confirmed that we were and he then introduced himself in a rather unusual way by taking our hands and sort of caressing them in some form of handshake.
We both introduced ourselves and he repeated our names very slowly and looked at us in the eyes in a very odd fashion.
Anyhow, we survived that awkward experience and were told the event had been temporarily moved into a smaller room because of some organisational mishap by the union staff.
Arriving in the room, we instantly knew we were not of the appropriate calibre to be attendees. Firstly, I was dressed in a bright yellow jumper and jeans, this provoked rather scorning stares from the OUCA members who were all dressed in either white or black tie tuxedo suits, lounge suits with a handkerchief in their breast pocket, or tweed jackets with pocket watch chains protruding from their trousers.
I felt as if I had walked into the funeral of Queen Victoria, the only thing missing was top hats, but I assume they weren’t wearing those because they’re too gentlemen-like and took them off before coming inside.
My socialist friend and I weren’t greeted and we noticed a queue of members paying at the door, we ignored this, walked past them and sat down on a bench.
It was fairly testing not to burst out laughing as members greeted each other with “salutations, old son” and after being asked if they were keeping well all members replied with “sound.”
My OUCA friend was 30 minutes late and counting.
The leader of the event wielded a port bottle and bashed it on the table as hard as feasibly possible about 7 times calling for order. Order was gained and the leader informed us that the first debate of the evening would commence and was on the minimum wage.
Offers to propose the motion were forthcoming and a member in tweed with a pocket watch and a Texan accent jumped at the opportunity. He spoke for five minutes, using words like “honourable members” and “in the other place,” as if he was actually in the House of Commons, for this is how OUCA members see themselves – already deserving of parliamentary seats.
Other members joined in the debate with one person saying the debate was wrong and it should instead be on the scrapping of welfare, not minimum wage. That same person also said the Government ought not to be curtailed by the press.
My OUCA friend arrived and soon after he secured the members their place in the Macmillan Room as originally planned. I didn’t know my OUCA friend was quite so powerful within the organisation and so when we said hello to each other the other members flocked to say hello to me too even though they had ignored me for half an hour in the smaller room.
The next debate commenced in the larger room once order had been gained by bashing the port bottle on the huge wooden table which everyone was now seated around.
The debate was on grammar schools and three members gave speeches in support of them, one member however said that he was educated at a comprehensive school, this caused a member at the back of the room to shout “SHAME,” which then led to practically all the members in a sedentary position to bash port bottles on the table and laugh in the pretentious manner that my socialist friend and I had become accustom to so quickly.
At this moment I realised that although it was entertaining, it was also quite tragic. For some of these people would undoubtedly go on to become Conservative MPs and even members of the Government, just like dozens of OUCA members in the past who currently hold Government posts.
People with such prejudices, willing to humiliate a state-educated peer, will go on to rule over a country where 92 percent of people are state educated. Do these elite OUCA members look down on the vast majority of the country they aim to rule?
The last debate was titled “This House supports an elected House of Lords.” The gasps that ensued after the title was read were loud but not as loud as the gasps that were made when a female OUCA member started the debate.
The misogyny was obviously quite evident here; the female member was talked over for her entire speech, none of the members paid a blind bit of notice to her.
The next speaker, who my socialist friend and I suspect is the leader of the Bullingdon Club because of the fact other members were calling him ‘General’, addressed the gentlemen and “smidgen” of girls. He then went on to say that he hadn’t had a good “smidgen” in ages, obviously a sexual innuendo and yet more misogyny. This caused my feminist socialist friend to fidget with unease.
Luckily the debates were now over, all that was left was to toast the Queen and sing the National Anthem. I toasted the Queen but my socialist friend quietly said “to the republic.”
The members got up and started to mingle for a few minutes until it was announced that OUCA was moving onto the King’s Arms (KA) pub and then Baby Love. My socialist friend and I decided we couldn’t go with them, as we may kill them in our drunkenness, so we walked off rapidly without even saying goodbye, when I say rapid, I mean run.”
Enjoy tonight’s show. The left have won this one already.
Harry is the the UK Political Editor for The Commentator. Joe Armitage is Chairman of Medway Conservative Future and Deputy Chairman (Political), Rochester East Conservatives. Young, Bright and on the Right, a Wonderland film, is broadcast on Thursday 9 August at 21:00 BST on BBC Two
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