Oxford University Conservative Association was in a state of mourning this week after a portrait of Margaret Thatcher was stolen from their stall at the OUSU Freshers’ Fair.
The incident took place at around 1pm on Friday October 7th. The only person working at the OUCA stall was at the time distracted by questions from an interested student. After pretending to sign up to the society’s mailing list, the thief snatched the portrait and ran out of the North School.
The thief appeared to have signed his name on the mailing list as ‘Michael Holmes’ of Merton College. However there seems to be no evidence of the student attending the college.
The incident has drawn mixed responses from Oxford students. When asked how he felt about the theft, Joe Cooke, OUCA treasurer and owner of the portrait, said that he not only felt “violated beyond belief by such a blatant disregard for property rights” but was also terrified by “the thought of what those sick socialists are doing to her.”
Stephen Bush, Co-Chair of the Oxford University Labour Club, reported that “we don’t know anything about the theft.”
Although traumatised by “the gap that now exists not only on my wall but in my heart”, Mr Cooke, of Oriel College, decided not to approach the police, but has offered a reward of a bottle of champagne to anyone providing information that led to the return of the portrait.
An OUCA spokesman is reported to have offered the reward of a free lifetime membership to the association.
Jason Keen, the Freshers’ Fair organiser, sympathised with Mr Cooke, saying that “The Freshers’ Fair organisers are sorry to hear that OUCA misplaced their picture of Mrs Thatcher during this year’s event and we hope they succeed in finding it.”
“In the meantime, we think it’s important that there isn’t an overreaction to this.”
Alex Harvey, a History student at St John’s, said “I find the situation ironic; she stole hope from so many people and now she’s been stolen.”
Lady Thatcher, a former OUCA President, last spoke to the Association in 2002.