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PPEist becomes PM

Yesterday’s General Election saw PPEist facing PPEist in a close-run campaign.

Ted Miliband is well known for his tenure as Corpus JCR President and OULC co-Chair. David Cameron is relatively unknown by comparison, notable for being captain of the Brasenose Tennis Club, and rumoured to have spent his time with members of controversial drinking society the Bullingdon Club.

More recently, when one commentator compared the Old Etonian’s Bullingdon antics to the London riots of 2011, Cameron told the Today Programme that, unlike the Bullingdon Club’s debauched evenings, the riots were “very well organised…looting and stealing and thieving.”

Ted Miliband has lost out to Brasenose rival David Cameron before, scoring a 2:1, while Cameron achieved a First. Cameron’s tutor, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, described him as “one of the ablest” students he has taught.

However, Miliband has the more impressive hack credentials, while one university friend, Steve Rathbone, suggested that Cameron was not keen on student politics because “he wanted to have a good time”.

Another friend, James Delingpole, described him as a “normal 19-year old” who is “likeable and fun, with not an ounce of (apparent) political ambition in his bones”.

Miliband, by contrast, has proved his insatiable passion for activism by demonstrating against Corpus Christi’s proposed 27 per cent increase in battels. As JCR President, he led around 50 JCR members, sporting t-shirts bearing the slogan “Blood from the breast, not from a stone,” chanting, “27 is a joke, not an offer!”

The reputation of both candidates pales in comparison, though, when compared with the BNOC status of LMH English student Michael Gove, whose time as Union President was characterised by scandal and notoriety. Gove graced the pages of this newspaper time and again during his time as Union President, making headlines including ‘Union hacks in five in a bed romp shocker’.

Both Cameron and Miliband have been quizzed about drug-taking, and Miliband appears to have kept his nose cleaner, both literally and metaphorically.

When asked about how well qualified he was to dictate drugs policy, he told an audience of 16- to 24-year olds, “I haven’t taken drugs. I’m not in favour of decriminalisation, for example, of cannabis, because of my reading about it – and I have read about it.”

Cameron has been less up front about his relationship with drugs. He has declined to comment on whether he was almost expelled from Eton for smoking cannabis, or whether he partook in cocaine while at Oxford.

Number 10 is no stranger to PPEists: if Miliband becomes Prime Minister, he will be the fourth PPEist to do so after Cameron, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath.

Despite generating so many political success stories, PPE has regularly come under fire as a degree choice.

Journalist Nick Cohen expressed widely held reservations in the Spectator, saying, “PPE essay crises are the perfect preparation for politicians who will distil a complicated society down to a few slogans.

“Above all, the flightiness of PPE encourages puppeteer politicians, who stand above their society pulling the strings, rather than men and women who represent solid interests within it.”

Commentator John Crace, writing in the Guardian, explained why so many politicians have ascended to office after graduating from Oxford with a PPE degree, writing that the degree gives students “a talent for having a firm opinion about absolutely everything regardless.”

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