Oxford Left Wing students have responded to the election result by initiating an anti-austerity movement, whilst Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) has written an open letter thanking Ed Miliband.
Various left wing groups wishing to oppose the government gathered at the Wadham Refectory on Wednesday at an event entitled ‘Oxford Fight Back’, which was organised by Oxford Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century (rs21).
Representatives from Trade Union Unite, OUSU’s LGBTQ Campaign, Oxford Antifascist Network, Mind your Head and Amnesty all attended the meeting.
The group described themselves as “overall anti-austerity” and as “trying to build increased community links and protect the community from the Tory government”.
LGBTQ Society trans rep Rowan Davis, who was chair of the meeting, commented, “In the face of five years of Tory cuts to civil liberties and the welfare state, hundreds of students and community members came together to channel the very personal anger they felt into organising a political resistance and filling in the gaps that Tory austerity will leave in its wake. The meeting successfully brought together a variety of disparate groups and I for one can’t wait to see what the new working groups come up with.”
The group at the meeting did declare, however, that they were wary of creating yet another “patronising” student group that claims to want to reach out to the community.
They plan to “tap into the traditions of Oxford protest” and involve themselves in other activism.
They also showed interest in national demonstrations, particularly ‘End Austerity Now’, which will take place on 20th June in London.
Maryam Ahmed, President of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) commented, “I am disappointed and upset at all the ad hominem attacks flying around on social media right now. As much as I might disagree with Labour, Lib Dem, Green, UKIP or even BNP policy, I really do believe that people of all political leanings have fundamentally good intentions.
“We’re all in this because we want to help people, we just disagree on the methods. And so I’d never dream of referring to an opposing party as ‘scum’, ‘bastards’ or any of the other unsavoury terms I’ve seen people using against the Conservatives. We’re better than this, guys.”
Meanwhile, Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) has written an open letter to ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband, thanking him for the work he did during his five years as Leader of the Opposition.
Miliband resigned as leader last Friday after Labour’s worst election result since 1987, which left the party on 232 seats, a loss of 26 seats from 2010 and nearly a hundred seats short of David Cameron’s Conservative majority of 331.
In his resignation speech, Miliband apologised for Labour’s poll-defying defeat, saying he took “absolute and total responsibility for the result”.
Madalena Leao and Loughlan O’Doherty, OULC’s current co-chairs, commented, “For the Labour Club, and indeed the Labour movement at large, Thursday’s defeat was both unexpected in its magnitude, and immensely difficult in its implications. We are all of us dreading what a Tory government will do to this country.
“However, we are also concerned that in the aftermath of the election the Labour Party regroup as quickly and effectively as possible.
“In particular we are concerned that the loss of the election will prompt a rightward movement within the party and a loss of interest in some of what we consider to be highly important issues, and in particular a concern with the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
“The letter itself makes clear why we think that Labour lost as it did. We do not, as of yet have any preference for a particular leader, we do however have strong opinions on the move the party needs to take.
“We believe that the party needs to continue to build on its policies that target inequality and injustice within our society.
“Growth is only valuable if it works for those at the bottom end of society, similarly business is only valuable if it benefits all, and in particular its least well paid employees.
“This is not a case of ignoring middle class voters. Greater equality, a stronger NHS, a better education system, a society in which people don’t have to visit food banks, all these things benefit the whole of society.”