Mad Cap’n admits pirate persona must go

Mad Cap’n Tom Scott, who was elected YUSU President after a fortnight-long campaign dressed as a pirate, has admitted that he will not stay in pirate character for the duration of his presidency.

“I’ve got to be realistic, I’ve got to be pragmatic. For official business it has got to be a suit. I know that some people are going to be annoyed about that, but some are going to be relieved,” Scott acknowledged.

“When you start running for elections, you sign a piece of paper that says if you are elected, you will become a trustee of the Students’ Union. One of the side-effects of that is that I am required, legally, to act in the best interests of the Students’ Union, at all times. And sadly, that doesn’t include wearing a pirate outfit when I talk to Brian Cantor,” said the president-elect, who begins duties next month.

His admission echoes the thoughts of current President Anne-Marie Canning, who, after his election stated: “He’s going to have to accept that he can’t be a pirate for the rest of the year. It’s not going to happen.”

Scott, who stated his intentions to dress as a pirate throu­ghout his term immediately after his election, confirmed that he would return to the persona on some occasions. “It’s going to be some kind of sliding scale. For the Freshers’ talk, certainly, I am going to be in full pirate mode, at least at the start. If I don’t run down the stairs of Central Hall with the theme tune to Pirates of the Caribbean playing, then something has gone wrong.”

He added that in the YUSU office he would try to mix pragmatism with piracy: “It’s amazing how well a pirate hat goes with a suit. I suspect I will be somewhere in between.”

Nadeem Kunwar, who was defeated by Scott in the election, said: “I think it’s good that he has realised the pirate thing won’t reflect well on the union. I’m glad that he has realised the University shouldn’t be made a laughing stock.”

“He ran on a gimmick, he won. I think most people will be happy that he has dropped the act,” Kunwar added.

Scott was elected after the highest turnout in the country for a student union election, having captured campus interest by dressing and talking like a pirate and amassing a large following of similarly uniformed campaigners.

His election was met with an immediate backlash from those who felt students had not realised the seriousness of the vote, and its potential implications. During his campaign, Scott had stated that he felt student politics was unimportant.
After the result, then Environment and Ethics Officer Tom Langley labelled the electorate “shallow, ignorant selfish and short sighted,” and said: “I don’t think I have ever been so ashamed to be a student as I am at this time.”

Having spent a month shadowing Canning, Scott claims to have changed his view of campus politics.

“It’s easy to get disillusioned by student politics, because a lot of the things that go on seem so small and petty. But once you get in there and realise that there are all these people and all these committees involved, it is a massive undertaking to run all this,” he said.

“The squabbling about who gets in power and who has this little bit over here or that little bit over there, I’m still disillusioned with. I think everyone is. But the process itself needs to happen, there needs to be people to do it,” Scott added.

10 comments

  1. Surely a bi-election is in order, as he was voted in as a pirate candidate.

    If, rightly or wrongly, he chooses to drop this personna, then surely using it in the first place means he basically cheated his way in ahead of two superior candidates.

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  2. I don’t believe anywhere on his manifesto did he say he’d be a pirate all year, Anon. That’d be akin to saying that when Grace Fletcher-Hall changed her name to Grace Fletcher-Hackwood we should have immediately had a by-election, because we voted Grace Fletcher-Hall to the position, not Grace Fletcher-Hackwood.

    This guy is still the same person as he was when we voted him in. Why does it matter what accent he uses, or how he dresses? All he’s saying is that he’s not going to be using his pirate persona when it’s inappropriate…

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  3. GOOD
    NO PIRATE – ME GET SEA SICK

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  4. What a ridiculous comparison Chris. Clearly changing how you talk, dress and behave (as he is doing) is substantive and relevant, unlike changing your name, and clearly Tom agrees otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation!!

    That said, I don’t think a Bye-election would be a worthwhile exercise, he’s taking his commitment to the union seriously, and that can only be a good thing.

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  5. I don’t think the comparison is all that ridiculous, neither changing something like your name, nor the way you talk and dress changes who that person is. Tom Scott and Mad Cap’n Tom were always the same person, I don’t see how this is changing that.

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  6. Chris, that’s quite a few people on both The Yorker and Nouse that think that comparison is completely ridiculous. It’s nothing like the same thing. At all. Read The Yorker’s comments for why. I cannot be bothered cut, copying and pasting on two walls.

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  7. The reasons being made that Tom should give way to a by-election is that he isn’t the same person that’s been elected, but if changing the way you talk and dress makes someone a different person, then changing your name should also make you a different person. I don’t see any fundamental flaws in this comparison, and you nor anyone else either on here or The Yorker have pointed any out (saying that something is “completely ridiculous” without backing it up with reason does not make a decent rebuttal), so I’m going to stand by it.

    Once again, I ask you, do you honestly think that the electorate think that Tom Scott and the Mad Cap’n are completely different people? Despite what you may think of your peers, I’ll make the claim that most York University students did realise that Mad Cap’n Tom was just Tom Scott wearing a pirate uniform. I have no strong evidence to back this up other than anecdotal evidence (people in other comments agreeing with me) and the logical conclusion you can draw that if someone is smart enough to get into York, they’re smart enough to realise that a man in a pirate costume is just that, a man in a pirate costume.

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  8. 18 Jun ’08 at 2:57 pm

    Chris Armstrong

    Chris Northwood is 100% right on this. The comparason is perfect valid, it may not be exactly the same, but it’s called reductio ad absurdum for a reason.

    It looks like the people who are anti-Tom just won’t be satisfied ever unless they get their own, hypocritcial, way. They want a by-election to get rid of him because he’s a pirate, they want a by-election to get rid of him when he isn’t.

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  9. Chris:

    I think we’re always going to disagree on this, I’m not in any way suggesting that you can become an entirely different person by changing your name, clothes or anything else, that would just be silly.

    The point I was trying to make was that although changing one’s name makes no difference in any way that wold be relevant, Tom has clearly decided that the way he looks, dresses and behaves does have an impact on his ability to “act in the best interests of the Students’ Union”. A notion which I would suggest would apply to any trustee, it’s certainly not limited to Tom. Whilst I wouldn’t care if Matt Burton changed his name, I would care if he went into business meetings wearing a Bikini. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind though and that’s fine too.

    Anyway, Its all an irrelevance really as in this circumstance the change is the other way around, and ‘in my favour’ as it were. I’m only really writing this because I felt you lumped my opinions in with other peoples in your earlier comment.

    For the record I think its a good thing, and although I do think it is a substantive change, I personally think its for the better. A bye-election would be a waste of time. He’s learning more about the job, he’s changed some of his views slightly, and so has changed his policies to match. That just shows he’s on the ball I think.

    As an aside I’ve never really understood why its such a big deal that people go back on manifesto pledges: If you say you’re going to do something, then realize as you get better at your job that its not really such a great idea, I’d rather you admitted it and did something else!

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  10. Lewis, thanks for the response, I think agreeing to disagree will be the best course of action. As you suggest may be the case in your Matt Burton example, if he did decide to wear a bikini into a meeting with the Uni admin, as long as he was speaking sense I wouldn’t really mind what he was dressed like. I honestly believe that people voted for Tom as a person and not being part of the YUSU in-crowd, not just for the shallow reason of him wearing a pirate costume (although that did get him noticed), and it’s still going to be that same person going to meetings.

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