A couple of days ago, if you’d told me that Tories at Oxford in the 80s were being bullied for supporting Margaret Thatcher, I’d have raised an eyebrow to say the least. That was until I read this;
“Miss Wyatt,” said the don, Harry Pitt (now deceased), “please translate the first paragraph.” I stumbled over it. A small man with a face like cake batter, Pitt was big on bile.
“Do Thatcherites refuse to learn French or are they just stupid?” he demanded. The other undergraduates giggled. Tears pricked the back of my eyes. “I suggest you take some basic French lessons in your spare time – that is, if you’re not too busy socialising,” Pitt snarled.
I am intuitively sceptical about the OUCA’s claim that they are in need of equal opportunities protection. I’ve seen first hand the tendency of right-wing students to say awful, bigoted things reminiscent of some dreadful Mail article, and then express horror when the response is intensely negative, and it’s important to be sure that this isn’t what’s going on at Oxford. (Incidentally, I’ve also watched, first hand, drunken Conservative students chant “we pay your benefits” at passers-by – being nice is a two-way thing.)
That said, it would be a sad day if simply being an 18 year old Tory merits “personal attacks”, and Wyatt’s case in particular includes clear examples of unacceptable levels of victimisation and bullying.
It’s worth consideration.