OUCA and OULC in bitter battle over Labour Club Presidents’ Galloway letter

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The Oxford University Conservative Association has made a formal complaint to the proctors
about an open letter from the Oxford University Labour Club to Respect MP George Galloway published in The Oxford
Student last Thursday. In the letter Jack Graves and Martin McCluskey,
co-chairs of the Labour club, stated that they are “currently boycotting OUCA”
after it “failed to take adequate disciplinary measures against members making
anti-Semitic jokes”. They also said that Galloway speaking to the society
would “undermine our struggle to make Oxford
free of those who tolerate fascist sympathies”.OUCA have also released a press
statement stating their “outrage at the Labour Club’s unprovoked letter”, which
they describe as a “cheap and offensive attack”, and one that is “insulting” to
its members. The complaint to the proctors says that “OUCA is the largest
student political body in the UK,
with a membership of some 700 members; it is frankly offensive to the many
undergraduates who are members to suggest Association the has any thing to do
with fascism”. It criticises the OULC for their “extreme left wing views, which
can only be described as verging on Communism”, and describes the letter as “libellous”.The Labour Club responded to the
OUCA press statement with one justifying their criticisms of the society. It
quotes reports of racist jokes made by members of the society in the years
1999-2001, as well as quotinga story published by Cherwell earlier this year about a member
who cracked a Holocaust joke to a Jewish student. They describe the society as “a
reactionary political organisation” and “feel they have strong grounds for
suggesting OUCA harbour fascist tendencies and refute any suggestions to the
contrary”. Speaking to Cherwell, OUCA President Christopher Ware
said of the Association, “it goes without
saying that we condemn any form of fascism or racism”. While acknowledging that
“unacceptable” attitudes had existed in the society in the past, he says, “No-one currently involved with OUCA has anything to do
with those accusations. They belong in a completely different era, and we have
move on. I challenge the Labour Club to come forward if they have any evidence
of fascism”. Christopher Ware also suggested the Labour Club “concentrate their
efforts on an underserved membership” rather then “dig up the past”, and asks
them to “publically apologise to the hundreds of students who by their
accusations have been associated with fascism”. In the case of the Holocaust joke
he says that the offending person immediately offered an apology to the Jewish
student, who said he was satisfied. A spokesman for the Respect Party
states that George Galloway is now “busy on tour, and unable to speak to the
Conservative Association this term”. However he also said Mr Galloway’s Westminster office has “not
received a letter protesting against the visit, or heard anything about one”.ARCHIVE: 4th week MT 2005

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