Ailing Tory Reform Group to merge with OUCA


OXFORD’S Tory Reform Group looks set to disband and merge with OUCA after the President-Elect resigned last week.
President-Elect Thomas Hardman said that the Conservative Party’s move towards the political centre under David Cameron had removed the need for a Tory Reform Group.
In an email to members, the group’s current President Luke Connoley wrote, “Next Sunday there will be an Extraordinary General Meeting of the OUTRG. It has been called to discuss and take a vote on the potential dissolution of the OUTRG as a society.
“The discussion will be centred around the idea, not of simple dissolution of the TRG, but of a merger with OUCA in the name of unity of Conservatism at Oxford.”
Connoley said that membership of the Tory Reform Group has substantially declined in recent years. He said, “When I first got involved two years ago, attendance at meetings was 20-25 people. Now we’re lucky to get five. There was a lack of interest at this year and last year’s Fresher Fair and we only had one person turn up to the Freshers’ drinks party. We thought if the interest wasn’t there, we should do something about it.
“My decision to resign was largely influenced by change within the Conservative movement in general… To have two Conservative groups proclaiming similar messages in the University is simply not a sustainable situation, and this was reflected in a steady decline in membership over the last two years. After private discussions with other committee members who felt the same, I took the decision to resign in order to force change.
“We feel OUTRG members will feel at home in OUCA, especially as it has become more liberal and less reactionary than in the past,” he added.
Connoley is, however, disappointed that the society has to close.  “I think it’s a great shame, though,” he said. “OUTRG has been around for over 40 years and led the discussion on liberal Tory values. If either the national Conservative party or OUCA go towards the right, we could always consider reforming.”
OUCA President Alex Stafford welcomed the merger, saying, “Personally, I’ve always believed that it’s silly having two societies trying to achieve the same thing. We’re happy that they’re coming to join us as we can pool our resources to achieve greater things.”


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