Sunday, 25 November 2007

Oxford Blues

On one level, who cares whether or not some student society invites Nick Griffin or David Irving to address it? Least of all when the grown-up, permanently resident, working, tax-paying City of Oxford is politically one of the most interesting places in Britain today.

Yet where is the coverage of the fact that no Tory Councillor has been returned there, whether at City or at County level, for a good many years now, giving the lie to the alleged continuing existence of the Tory bogeyman without which there is no point to the Labour Party? (Are there still any Tory Councillors in Cambridge, either? There certainly isn’t a Tory MP there these days.)

Where is the coverage of the rise of the Green Party in Oxford’s middle-class wards, a clear indication that the Guardian Tendency is detachable from the Labour coalition if given any alternative, and is by no means necessarily susceptible to the charms of the Lib Dems (again, if given an alternative)?

Where is the coverage of the rise, on Oxford’s council estates, of the Independent Working Class Association, which has about as many councillors nationwide as the two Respect factions put together, yet of which almost no one has ever heard? And where is the coverage of the fraught relationship between Oxford’s Greens and the IWCA, a microcosm with profound implications for the impending, not to say ongoing, realignment of the British Left?

Still, since apparently we must treat the Oxford Union as an institution of earth-shattering importance both absolutely and compared to the above trivialities, one trusts that those who have clamoured to keep out Griffin and Irving will react in the same way to any invitation to, say, those who lied this country into war. Or the utterly unrepentant old Stalinists, Trotskyists and Mugabe-worshippers in New Labour and the Euston Manifesto Group. Or the utterly unrepentant old bag men of apartheid South Africa, Ian Smith’s Rhodesia and Pinochet’s Chile in the Henry Jackson Society and throughout the currently dominant generation of Tories. Or those who treasonably discharge their parliamentary duties under the day-to-day direction of the American neoconservative junta. Or the supporters of militant Islam in Kosovo, in Chechnya, in Turkey, in Pakistan, previously in Bosnia and Afghanistan, effectively in Iraq, and putatively in Syria. Or the cheerleaders for Nazism in Bosnia, Kosovo, Denmark, Flanders, and among the Russians let into Israel as a result of the Law of Return. To name but a few.


  1. But, if one were to castigate the Oxford Union as unimportant then where would the Durham Union Society be left - as a non-running, after dinner, mentally lacklustre port drink sop in a second rate university - surely not

  2. David can't really say that it's in a second-rate university now that he's tutoring there again. So I'll have to say it. And I went there, too.

    The rest of what you say about DUS is perfectly true, and David would no doubt agree with it, if he still gives the matter any thought.

    That DUS still has the exclusive and rent-free use of university buildings, one of them out of which to run a pub in all but name, is a source of growing consternation in high places, I am told. David would know more, since he is there. But he'll probably say that he doesn't care, and he probably really doesn't.

    Also perfectly true is his astonishment at the importance being attached to an undergraduate drinking club just because it happens to be at Oxford. It is true absolutely. And it is even truer, as David says, in view of the fact that Oxford itself is now genuinely interesting politically, something that students simply aren't, because they can't yet be.

    Incidentally, I expect that the IWCA receives no coverage because, unlike Respect in particular, its roots are in the Labour Movement rather than on the sectarian Marxist Left, and its appeal is to the dreaded white working class rather than to Asian Muslims.

  3. Really, Anonymous, grow up. And the same goes for the BBC and the broadsheet papers. A student organisation simply doesn't matter very much, and that is as true of the Oxford Union as of any other student organisation.

    Furthermore, various current political features of the proper City of Oxford really do matter rather a lot, yet receive no coverage whatever.