Now don’t prematurely get your hopes up/down. This is not a tale of Nazi chants and morally dubious debauchery. My one night at Port and Policy with the newly re-affiliated Oxford University Conservative Association’s was utterly bizarre but not particularly politically incorrect. As I entered the church hall, I was immediately presented with a choice of Tawny or Ruby Port. I didn’t mind the choice of beverages, which unlike their reputation, is not toxic. I find that port is one of the things at Oxford that straddles all social and political divides.
Propositions are met with ‘SOUND’ or ‘SHAME’ by the audience members, and this is the only society I know of that has a ‘Dean’. This one looked like he was in his 70s at least. Current members do not know how or when he became the Dean – he just is. He walks with a cane, wears a dog collar and appears not to be a big fan of women, an accusation which OUCA contends.
As the port took its toll, the evening became increasingly surreal. One man stood up on a bench to decry the disrespect everybody was showing to the memory of the late Baroness Thatcher by not listening to the debates. He somewhat reduced the impact of his interjection by falling off the bench midway. He was not the only one unleashed by the Sainsbury’s own brand Port – so was my bourgeois-socialist conscience.
Indeed if there is one thing to learn from the evening, it is never to start a speech at OUCA with, “I am a member of the Labour Party.” This was met with an almighty and slightly violent “SHAME.”
I said I was glad that Thatcher had received a ceremonial funeral. “SOUND!” I said that now that a precedent had been set, I looked forward to Tony Blair, another winner of three consecutive general elections, receiving similar honour in death. ‘SHAME!’ I said that Thatcher should be commended for her part in ending the Cold War. ‘SOUND!’ I then quoted Harold Macmillan’s criticism of Thatcher’s treatment of the miners, which was met by another resounding chorus of “SHAME.”
The whole party then decamped to the King’s Arms, where we were met by Old Man Bridge, who it turns out, disappointingly, is a Conservative, and knows many of the OUCA luminaries by name. I discovered that Simon (he does have a real name!) does not like Harriet Harman, “It’s in the name: she harms men”, thinks we are better off leaving the EU and that we should all be very wary of a nuclear Iran. He concluded with, “I’m going to Babylove even if no-one else is.” I stumbled back to college, confused.
Rather to my surprise, I find myself urging you all to attend Port and Policy. It is a fascinating anthropological study, and if you don’t take it too seriously, it is great fun. And remember, these people won’t end up running the country. After all, what ever became of past presidents William Hague and Jeremy Hunt?