York Tories chair resigns after UKIP pledge

The chairman of York Tories, Ralph Buckle, has this evening resigned after an article he published in Nouse was criticised nationally

The Chairman of York Tories, Ralph Buckle, was today suspended from the national Conservative Party after an article written for Nouse advised students to vote for UKIP over the Conservative Party.

The article, published May 12, advised students to vote for UKIP in the upcoming European elections. In the article he argued on behalf of both the Conservatives and UKIP before stating that “as you may have guessed I favour the latter and would encourage you to do the same.”

Buckle was today suspended from the national Conservative Party with, he says, the intention of “expelling [him] in the near future.” Following this decision he met with leading members of the York Tories, where the decision was made that he should resign and not seek renomination. Buckle reportedly met each committee member in a private room and asked for their personal advice before reaching this decision.

According to one senior member of the York Tories Buckle was “pretty much told by everyone” that a “David Davis style reelection was simply not an option.” According to York Tories Press Secretary Felix Bungay the decision to step down was “entirely Ralph’s own.”

Buckle’s leadership has been questioned by some members of the society recently, with a senior member of the committee commenting that “Ralph has never been a strong leader, he is no Thatcher or Blair.” Another member commented that he was “never sure and never on the ball.”

Following Buckle’s resignation an EGM will be held on Thursday to elect an interim Chair for the society. In a message to members Buckle commented that his position is “no longer tenable” and he would like to “thank people for their messages of support.”


  1. Simply put, Ralph is one of the kindest campus ‘politicians’ that I’ve ever met. In fact, I’ve always thought that he is probably too nice to be a Tory; apparently so does the Conservative Party, much to its own loss.

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  2. It’s a real shame. Ironically, Ralph’s article echoed the thoughts of many Tories nationwide who are sick of Cameron’s lack of any real conservative policy. He is a great guy and anyone from the Tories that criticises Ralph should take a long, hard look at themselves.

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  3. I’m not sure what’s more depressing about this story: that a mild-mannered student pol has lost office or Iain Dale getting on his high horse about it. Dale rightly castigates student politics for hubris but that doesn’t stop him from delving into them to feed his monotonous mill of political tripe.

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  4. He said that UKIP was better for Europe and he said it with the best interests of the Conservative Party in mind. I even suspect that he represented more Conservatives than the Party itself does, really… A shame that national politics is so petty and I hope it doesn’t cause any lasting harm to Ralph’s uni life/career etc.

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  5. May I just add that those Tories who have now backstabbed Ralph with their anonymous comments in this article are really hitting below the belt. They should take responsibility for the comments which bring the quality of his leadership into question, for it is without doubt that Ralph will be missed as chairman.

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  6. 26 May ’09 at 11:31 pm

    Grant Bradley

    @ Jason. Whether or not he was speaking with the best interest of the party, it was a reckless act to simply denounce the party he represents. We’re all entitled to our opinions but when placed in a position of authority and respect such as that he must have known that he should have been treading carefully when commenting on something as important and potentially volatile.

    His leadership can hardly be described as weak, but nor was it strong and it’s only natural to expect criticisms to surface upon his public removal from office.
    Perhaps it’s time for someone with a new vision on leadership and drive for the role to step up and take the reigns. Charlie Rowley for example, has expressed an interest in the role and would, in my mind be an ideal candidate for the position as his passion for the Party and ability to cut through the B.S. of politics and tell it like it is what the party really needs right now.

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  7. Weird. Lord Tebbitt anyone?

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  8. Always a shame to see a fellow politician treated in this way for not towing the party line.

    The ‘better off out’ campaign is a tory-led campaign. Tory web-hero Dan Hannan wants out of the EU. As Chris W points out, Norman Tebbit told people NOT to vote tory as well. This position is widespread within the party. Bastards in the cabinet, anyone?

    Yet this guy gets kicked out for something many westminster tories have said – when he’s not claimed any moats or duck houses, or flipped his residence, or hired any interior designers or accountants on the taxpayer.

    Double standards, Dave? Or is this just what you’d call ‘compassionate conservatism’.

    A nasty cheap shot. If i were Ralph I’d be writing to Norman Tebbit and Dan Hannan right away to get some advice and solidarity.

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  9. Not *quite* double standards, Politician – when Tebbitt made his ‘don’t vote Tory’ comments, it was noted that he was being careful not to say ‘vote UKIP’ – because if he had said that, Cameron would have been able to expel him (which, some commentators suggested, would not have been unwelcome). I believe the other main parties maintain a similar line – that a party member is allowed to condemn their own party (if they weren’t, there’d be mass expulsions every day); but that a party member can’t advocate directly voting for another party, as Ralph did (because in advocating voting for another party, one is actively behaving as a member/campaigner for that other party – and one cannot be a member of two political parties).

    In this case, it seems unfair – advocating a protest vote based on party policy seems rather different to the more obvious hypotheticals one might suggest – but then, Cameron’s on something of a roll at the moment, he’s not going to get himself taken down by allowing open dissent over the EU.

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  10. 27 May ’09 at 2:21 pm

    Sympathetic Onlooker

    Having just read Buckle’s statements on the pages of this newspaper, he cannot be surprised by what has happened. All a very unfortunate business.

    Now the issue moves to the question of a replacement. The Tories on campus have been suffering a deep malaise for a long time. While their party is tipped for government within twelve months, they often struggle to attract enough members to justify a whole table at the Garden of India.

    They need to break out of their current membership and attract the kind of people their party is attracting at a national level. Charlie Rowley is just the ticket – the right kind of Tory.

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  11. The Torys need to find themselves a David Levene figure.

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  12. What surprises me is that the national tories should bother to take such a step. Have they really got nothing bigger to worry about than what one member said in one third of an article which (let’s face it) few people are going to read and even fewer be motivated to change their voting preferences because of? I don’t care for UKIP at all and perhaps it’s a little unusual and unwise for the head of the campus tories to suggest voting for them instead of his own party but campus politicians should not be held to the same standards as Westminster politicians, many of whom (from all parties) have done far worse things than this. Was expelling Ralph Buckle really more of a priority for the Conservatives than expelling Anthony Steen or Julie Kirkbride?

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  13. I can’t believe that any person with a shred of self respect would even consider voting for Britain’s most corrupt party – UKIP. With two MEPs arrested (one jailed, one awaiting trial) for actually or allegedly defrauding the taxpayer it would be be like voting for the Kray gang as a protest against someone pinching the milk off the doorstep. If UKIP’s MEPs have nothing to hide then why do they, alone of all the parties having MEPs, refuse to publish their expenses? Even the bulk of Tory and Labour MEPs have done this! Why is it that whilst UKIP leader Nigel Farage is happy to boast about the £2 million in taxpayer funded expenses he has claimed since being elected, that he won’t tell us for what, exactly, the money has been claimed? Furthermore, is OLAF (the EU’s fraud investigation body) investigating UKIP’s expenses claiming activities as some maintain? If not then why doesn’t UKIP deny this allegation? I commend the following video to all who want to kick corruption out of British politics.


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  14. Just want to say that though I have my political differences with Ralph – and advocating voting for another political party while acting as Chair for one probably wasn’t the best idea – Ralph is a top bloke and it’s a real shame this has happened. Politicians, inc. campus politicians, are people too, and for this to happen in such a public way is very unfortunate and I hope Ralph isn’t deterred by it.

    Also, Will, shut up! :D

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  15. Oh, and I hope that if any good comes of this it will be a raised turnout in the upcoming elections – whoever you vote for, please do vote, as a low turnout will help the BNP.

    Go to aboutmyvote.co.uk: you’re probably registered to vote here, which is where the fascist and violent BNP are strongest (except the North West) and stand a very real, very scary chance of a massive boost in funding, publicity and credibility.

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  16. To ‘Anon’ – Lord Tebbit did say to vote UKIP (and not the BNP), but the Today program edited this out from the interview they prerecorded.

    More to the point, Cameron is writing in the Guardian this week advocating ‘progressive conservatism’, which appears to be literally meaningless. Withour a socialist-vs.-capitalist division in politics, the concept of a blue corner and a red corner doesn’t work, and so if we as outsiders of politics sit and advocate central party discipline, we are advocating the suppression of political discussions in the name of a mere careerism in which we share no part. The political parties need to be more pluralistic and internally democratic, or else they need to wither and die, in which case we need to write a consitution for this country which allows politics to be conducted sensibly.

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  17. “Ralph has never been a strong leader, he is no Thatcher or Blair.”

    Lol! We’re talking about a student society here, not a country. Sense of perspective, maybe? Then again, would Buckle have had the guts to stand up for the Falklands?

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  18. “The Torys need to find themselves a David Levene figure.”

    No, they just dont.

    Ralph made a silly (if noble) error in calling on people to vote for UKIP. They are the sentiments of many Tories nationwide and I find mysef agreeing with Chris W.

    However, I think the Tories have to look to the future now. Looking at who they have, Charlie Rowley would do a fantastic job as interim leader of the party on campus. He has been heavily involved in the association and is a well considered chap. He can build on the work of Ralph and continue the tradition that York Tories are by far and away the biggest political organisation on campus.

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  19. 28 May ’09 at 1:30 pm

    Gemma Tresser

    In response to the above comment by Dan Taylor:

    As far as I’m aware Dan, and others who are championing Charlie Rowley for chair, are by no means active enough as members of the York Tories to have any knowledge of his involvement and achievements whilst being on the Committee. If they could give me any examples of his hard work and involvement, above the absolute minimum, I would be impressed.

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  20. It appears to me that the best thing for the Tories on campus, in the wake of this, is to maintain their strength and not become fragmented. I do not feel that Charlie Rowley is capable of this as he has never advocated in an open forum any proposals to achieve this. I have heard word that he has aired certain issues privately to people on occasion, but whispered antagonisms will, and probably have, only led to the weakening of the society. Thus he does not appear to be the correct candidate to maintain and continue to build a strong Tory society.

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  21. I understand he is Tory P&P and must therefore be an active member of the committee?

    In my deaings with Charlie, I have found him to be a fantastic chap. He helped run David Sharp’s election campaign for the YUSU elections and made himself well liked around the place for sure. I think we would make a decent interim leader.

    That said, I am not an active member of the Tory party on campus, but from my understanding of it, there are pretty seismic divisions. I think a strong Conservative Association on campus is important, but yet more important, is that it is united in achieving its collective goals. Whoever is elected interim leader (and I hope it is Charlie), it is important that the association get behind them as a unified whole.

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  22. Ok folks, time for a quick reality check here. The debate is over who becomes chair of a campus society, not leader of the Tory party. Granted, some skills and evidence of experience is a good thing but worrying about how potential candidates line up next to Blair and Thatcher and whether they will be able to unify the society following this ‘terrible ordeal’ is going a bit to far.

    Pick someone that has a brain in their head and will put in some time and you have the perfect candidate to take on the (relatively) straight forward job of running a campus political society.

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  23. I am a York Tory. I am a fully paid up member of the society, for all my sins.

    No Gemma, I am not active in the society to a level which seems to satisfy you, but please do tell me quite how that takes away my right to make a decision. How does that take away Dan’s right, and how does that take away anybody else’s right, provided they are members of the society.

    This is a University political party. We are not breaking barriers or deciding the future. If lucky, one of our revered leaders may become a councilor one day. Maybe.

    It is exactly this attitude that I don’t like. I don’t like the current York Tories leadership. I find it elitist and ill-informed, two-faced and self important. It is for this reason that I, as a York Tory, will be voting for Charlie Rowley tonight. I hope he wins and I hope that he’s finally able to introduce a modern tory party, not an elitist gang where anybody without a double barreled surname and a love of ‘Haugeathons’ is shafted.

    Maybe then I’ll become involved to an extent that Miss Tresser might consider might point of view worthwhile.

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  24. 28 May ’09 at 2:57 pm

    Gemma Tresser

    I am someone who genuinely cares about the York Tories and has never been one for the pomp or elitism (and I certainly don’t have a double barreled surname). In fact, it scared me off for the first year as well and I have always been trying to alleviate it. Although I have no issues with Charlie Rowley personally, I have not seen him exhibit any qualities of leadership, put initiatives forward or attempt to rally the society together. True, he has not been Chair, but that does not mean he is unable to express these qualities to others if he wanted to do something innovative. I have nothing against everyone’s right to have an opinion on the matter, however, I just find it disconcerting that people can have such strong views with very little knowledge of the facts including exactly what position he has on the committee which is Campaigns, not P&P.

    I am open minded but I worry that this furor surrounding Charlie Rowley is going to blindsight people from the actual substance of the candidate(s) and of the issues that the new Chair will have to target.

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  25. Tories,

    This infighting is utterly ludicrous from both sides. I was merely throwing in my two-pennies worth. Gemma, you are far more involved than I am and I fully accept your points as they are your views! Equally, anyone who supports Charlie has a right to air them. That’s all part of it.

    I reiterate my original point though. A divided York Tories is a weakened York Tories. To expose the scandal of the other main parties; to hold our YUSU representatives to account; to continue the fight for the battle of ideas on campus; to break the inherant leftism on this campus; all these require a united front and must be driven by the York Tories. Don’t weaken the estate by a leak in the summer-house.

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  26. “to break the inherant leftism on this campus”

    I thought you said that the tories were the biggest political society on campus. Fail.

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  27. Oh I do love it when Tories deal with their dirty washing in public. It’s always way more fun compared to when the other parties do it. Stop trying to a) big up the importance of the Tories on campus and b) make it out as if the Chair of the York Tories is some super-important position who acts as the flag waver for campus conservatism and is vital to its survivial.

    I think a far more interesting debate is who will take over Dan Taylor’s position in campus politics next year. Whether you like it or not, he has had a greater impact on campus politics over the past 2-3 years than any chair of the York Tories could ever dream of having.

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  28. “I thought you said that the tories were the biggest political society on campus. Fail.”

    What a silly comment. They are by membership. Membership of a political-party doesn’t include lecturers and seminars, books articuating leftist ideas in the ibrary, student-unions and the apathetic. I’m sure you are intelligent enough to understand that political representation on campus is not just about party membership? Though with such a childish post looking for cheap one-upmanship, I guess not.


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  29. “I think a far more interesting debate is who will take over Dan Taylor’s position in campus politics next year.”

    Jason Rose already does enough work for 5 different people and holds an infinite number of positions, I’m sure he’d be more than willing to step up to the challenge of adding ‘be Dan Taylor’ to his duties.

    And I know I’d listen to him debating himself on URY!

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  30. Jason Rose, the right’s answer to Taylor? I think not somehow.

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  31. @ ROFL, at last come sense…

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  32. Quick question: if I took over from Taylor, got drunk outside of Derwent and punched myself, could I be no-confidenced for it?

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  33. 29 May ’09 at 5:57 pm

    Something Good 2009

    Probably not, but you’re doing enough as it is to get no-confidenced so don’t worry about it!

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  34. Dan, you want to “break” things such as “books articuating leftist ideas in the ibrary…”

    Wait, you’re threatened that there are books holding – gasp – *opinions you might not agree with* in an *ibrary* of all places? Who would’ve thought such a thing could happen!

    The library’s got plenty of books detailing all different viewpoints, because that’s the *point* of the place – to be a resource where differing arguments can be researched.

    But since you seem to fear alternate views being in print, perhaps I can point you to a book the library has in stock which might soothe your worries? It’s called Mein Kampf – it agrees with oh-so-many things you’ve said over the years, and it also promotes handy ways to “break” the apparently-ubiquitous hold of those evil lefty books: censorship and bonfires.

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  35. Yes Chris, I forgot, because anyone that doesn’t agree with your ideas is labelled as a fascist. Get back under the stone you crawled from.

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  36. Sorry Chris, where did Dan say he ‘feared’ alterative views? On the contrary, by how much he debates matters, I’d probably say he relishes them. I’m pretty sure his post says that a strong conservative association is essential to win the battle of ideas on campus.

    You look ever so slightly silly by blatently misinterpreting his post, manipulating it, having a clear personal dig and coming up with the standard ‘argument shutting’ name calling that often revolves around the terms ‘nazi’. Ironic also, that you would probably criticise Dan for being to ‘pro-Israel or even Zionist, no?

    Food for thought, perhaps.

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  37. Chris made a good point – Taylor claimed that the Tories should be fighting “to break the inherant leftism on this campus”; when challenged on this claim, he cited “lecturers and seminars, books articuating leftist ideas in the ibrary, student-unions and the apathetic” (‘leftism’, according to Mr Taylor, evidently applies to anyone and anything not openly endorsing the Conservative party). I wouldn’t go so far as to cite the Nazis; nonetheless, to object to the presence of certain books in the library (which, as Chris pointed out, is a *library* – it’s meant to offer a wide range of primary and secondary literature), especially a library which also contains plenty of ‘books articulating rightist ideas’ is an extraordinary position to take.

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  38. 30 May ’09 at 9:23 pm

    A centrist fundamentalist

    Political labels such as ‘leftism’ are of course subjective and relative. For that reason, to me it makes perfect sense that Taylor defined this term as effectively anything to the left of Hitler (who, incidentally, removed ‘leftist books’ from libraries and burned them).

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  39. “to object to the presence of certain books in the library…”

    What are you on about? I never said such a thing, wouldn’t say such a thing and such blatent misinterpretation says much about your ability to digest and process information. I said we must fight against their ideas- not remove them from the library. That came from the idiot ‘Chris’ whose post was yet more ridicuoous. Read my post properly, and then articulate a response in line with what I said, not what is no more than a figment of your imagination.

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  40. Dan,

    You said, in an earlier comment, that the Tories had to “break” the “inherent leftism” on campus. When this claim of ‘inherent leftism’ was challenged (on the grounds that, if the Tories have the largest membership, the campus can hardly be inherently left-wing), you countered that whilst the Tories had the largest membership, the campus was still inherently ‘leftist’ – and cited “lecturers and seminars, books articuating [articulating?] leftist ideas in the ibrary [library?], student-unions and the apathetic” as apparent proof of this, noting that “political representation on campus is not just about party membership”. Which does indeed raise the question of how you think the Tories should be ‘breaking’ the ‘leftism’ represented by the cited books, lecturers & seminars, and by YUSU, and the apathetic (!).

    If you were not implying that you objected to such books (I did not say you wanted to *remove* them, although you are begging the question), then citing them as evidence of the ‘inherent leftism’ you wish the Tories to be ‘breaking’ is inexplicable (unless, of course, you don’t object to them, but think the Tories should be doing whatever it is you want them to do on principle’s sake); and, also, that you need to revise one of the basic principles of your degree – when constructing an argument, stick to the point (i.e. if you are arguing campus to be inherently left-wing, don’t mention library books if they are not relevant to your point). If you are mistaken in your recollection of your argument, however (I give you the undeserved courtesy of considering you mistaken), and in fact you *were* arguing the books etc as being inherently left-wing etc (as is the clear point made by the dialogue between yourself and ‘xxx’), perhaps you need to read your own posts properly.

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  41. Chris, you’re an idiot. You can’t just mention Hitler and expect to win an argument. Look up Godwins Law.

    As for leftism on campus, it’s clear that YUSU is a left-wing organisation, as is the NUS. Dominated by the Labour party and advocating leftist ideas particularly when it comes to trade unions and foreign policy. How many tory presidents of YUSU have there been? How many tory NUS presidents have there been? None!

    The library has a range of politics texts from marxism to fascism and everything else inbetween. I’m not sure a library at a university can ever be seen to be part of a political conspiracy. People on a fascism or marxism module need texts from both sides to provide evidence and critique. The same goes for any politics course – a module on europe requires scepticism and integration, a course on islam requires quranic scholars and sceptics. A null point academically. There’s not proof that the library is a political organisation.

    As students we’re all a bit more extreme as we will be in later life. Leftists and rightists will mellow, and will probably be thoroughly ashamed of some of our contributions on boards like this (one benefit of being anonymous!). Lets not take ourselves too seriously, we all have a lot to learn from proper life experience.

    I’m not sure York tories will ever break through the leftism. People generally will not become right-wing until they have to pay full taxes. As students and exempt from income tax, we are inclined to be left-wing. We can promise the world and not pay a penny. We can be condescending to business without having to think about being a businessperson. We can claim to represent ‘workers’ without considering that a bank clerk could be a ‘worker’ despite not working in a factory. Student politics will always be ridiculous and out of touch. Which is why young MPs are such a bad idea.

    Life experience = political experience. Once the former tory chair has a job, I’m confident he will be accepted back into the party as a reasonable and valued eurosceptic.

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  42. Re. A Politician,
    I’d be interested to see a source for your assertion that there have been no Tory presidents of YUSU or NUS – whilst the NUS claim sounds quite possible, the YUSU claim sounds a little unlikely (especially since – with the obvious exception of GFH – most of the YUSU sabbatical officers in the past couple of years, so far as I am aware, have not come from a background of membership within one of the political societies on campus – and I can think of several examples of candidates with heavier involvement, either left-wing or right-wing, losing out to scrupulously ‘non-political’ candidates).

    If, however, we are as you say more extreme now than we will be in later life, then that must inevitably apply to the right-wingers as well as the left-wingers. In which case, I really hope that this university is inherently left-wing, and is not ‘broken’ by the Tories or other right-wingers. I disagree with your over-simplification of student politics and the young person’s grasp of local politics; but even if you are right, out of touch or skewed views about workers or business or tax cannot do any real harm since we do not have the power to enact any meaningful policies on those issues. On the other hand, what sort of views is a student parody of the extreme right likely to hold, and do we really want them to prosper on campus?

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  43. Now, I’m the last person to advocate drawing a party line on all things – but lets be honest, there are other ways to raise issues and ensure your voice is heard within your party!

    I personally find it absolutely horrific that a person elected to chair a political society, specifically representing party members and supporters, whose job includes organising and motivating students for his party – then advocated voting for a different political party. It’s a tad different to saying “Hey! Not sure if I’m completely unboard with all of this EU malarkey – here’s why…”. Forget “resigning” – if he had been my club chair, I’d have had his head on a stick.

    Besides, last time I checked, he was fired and banned from the party, he didn’t resign.

    But hey! That’s just what I was told by a party staff member!

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