OUTRG merges with OUCA


The Oxford University Tory Reform Group is to merge with the Oxford University Conservative Association, in a surprising move announced yesterday.An emergency meeting was held last week to debate the future of the TRG, and voted unanimously for its dissolution. The group has been struggling to attract members. There was a distinct lack of interest at Freshers’ Fair this term, and events have been badly attended for the last two years. Even the emergency meeting itself had a poor turnout and only just reached quorum. Attendance has been declining dramatically since the end of 2005, when David Cameron was made leader of the Conservative Party. Members believe that this is one of the main reasons for the TRG’s decline, as both OUCA and the Conservative Party itself have shifted more towards the centre-right, and the TRG as a special group has become superfluous. In an email to TRG members, current President Luke Connoley said, ‘It is very easy for the student press to portray OUCA, given its history, as an elitist society, but I do believe that it has genuinely become more liberal. Being a broad political society as it is, and containing all wings of conservative political thought as it does, there will always be OUCA members to the 'right' of the political spectrum, but there will also always be OUCA members on the TRG side’ ‘The OUTRG has been in existence since 1965, which is ten years longer than the National TRG has existed. Seeing such a long-lived organisation with such a history of inviting interesting speakers, and challenging the views of Oxford students perish is inevitably sad.’
OUCA President Alex Stafford said, 'This speaks volumes about how both the Conservative Party and OUCA have adapted and changed for the better. I am very pleased that the TRG want to re-join us, and we welcome them back into the fold.'
Some students have been sceptical about the merge. A Regent’s Park 2nd year said ‘This is exactly why people are losing faith in political parties, all their views are merging and becoming the same. Cameron is appropriating Labour’s more trendy ideas and the differences between the parties are becoming fewer and fewer. I am not a conservative, but I do think that this shows a wider problem across British politics.’ All TRG members are being offered free membership of OUCA. ‘Should the political climate change significantly, either at a local level,or on a national level – significantly enough for there to be a renewed need for a liberal, centre-right conservative society in Oxford – then the OUTRG can always be re-formed and re-established,’ Connoley concluded.


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