Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bottom of the Class

University of Cambridge
World Class
Political Apathy
Among the things that popped up in my news feeds this bank holiday weekend was this from MSNBC, a story that also appeared in the New York Times. Cambridge City Council as elected the first ever transgendered Mayor. It wasn't a particularly interesting story really, the Mayor will do a crap job not because she is transgendered, but because she is a Liberal Democrat. It was unusual though to see Cambridge pop up in political news, especially from overseas sources, because other than the tenure of Michael Howard as Conservative party leader both the town and university have had a very low political profile.

It doesn't surprise me really. When I was at the university, political apathy was the order of the day. I don't know about the other student bodies, but the Conservative Association always felt more like a social club than anything else, despite the number of high profile guests. One year it did manage to have a local NUS president elected on a Conservative ticket, at the time a unique achievement. The only problem was she looked like a stereotypical POL and sure enough soon defected to the University Left; nobody really cared. The Left seemed little better, amounting to one tiny stall near the Guildhall on a Saturday, it it was sunny enough, to exhort us to drink, or not drink (I can never remember which) Nicaraguan coffee.

The only time things got exciting at a college level was when a ballot was held over disaffiliation of the college-level student union, the JCR, from the University and National Level NUS. The rallying cry was that the danegeld paid to these suspect organisations could be better spent 'supporting social activities at a college level' - in other words subsidising the bar prices. A few posters went up, there was a poorly attended hustings held in an unusually deserted bar, and the pro-disaffiliation lobby carried the vote. Predictably, apathy dictated that the vote fell well short of the required quorum for any change to be made.

I don't know if things have changed, so I took a moment to check out the academic institutions that have educated today's party leaders. I looked at all parties that achieved a national vote of over 100,000 at the 2005 General Election and included a factor from the recent Scottish and Welsh votes to give some weight to their relatively increased importance in the political scene above and beyond their Westminster representation.

So here it is, the league table of political influence of higher education bodies by number of alumni in party leadership positions, ties broken by 2005 national vote, with 2007 regional vote factored in.

  • 3 - Cowley Poly: Tony Blair (Labour), David Cameron (Conservatives), Siân Berry (Green)

  • 2 - Queen's University of Belfast: Reg Empey (Ulster Unionist), Mark Durkan (SDLP)

  • 2 - None: Nigel Farage (UKIP), Gerry Adams (Sinn Féin)

  • 1 - Edinburgh University: Gordon Brown (Labour)

  • 1 - Glasgow University: Menzies Campbell (Liberal Democrats)

  • 1 - St Andrews University: Alex Salmond (SNP)

  • 1 - Barry School of Evangelism: Ian Paisley (DUP)

  • 1 - Liverpool Polytechnic College: Ieuan Wyn Jones (Plaid Cymru)

...and propping up the table...

  • 1 - Cambridge University: Nick Griffin (BNP)

Hmmm...not the greatest cause for pride there, perhaps I need to change the entry criteria so I can get Dr Richard Taylor (Clare, Cambridge), leader of the mighty Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern party, into the list. B******, that would just push the revolting Griffin in to a more prominent position so perhaps I won't.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Suggest if you're 'conservative' you're probably 'Christian' too, or think you are.

Please visit to find out where you really stand with Jesus Christ.