Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) and Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) have this week taken up their positions as student political societies ahead of the coming referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.
In a public statement released on Monday, OUCA President Jan Nedvídek and Political Officer George Walker announced, “In light of the forthcoming referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, [OUCA] has thought it right to clarify what role we intend to play in the debate.
“Considering the variety of views which our members have on the question of EU membership, OUCA has decided not to support either the ‘In’ or the ‘Out’ campaigns. This stance is in accordance with the Conservative Party’s own position of allowing members to make up their own minds about the issue.”
OUCA’s stance means the society will not be campaigning for either side unless a future GM motion in favour of changing the society’s position were to be proposed and passed.
Meanwhile, OULC passed a motion on Monday night, with only five votes against, to “endorse UK membership of the European Union” and “to actively campaign in favour of the UK’s continued membership of the European Union in the coming referendum campaign.”
Noni Csogor, Co-Chair-Elect of OULC, who contributed to the motion debate, told Cherwell, “The EU has worked tirelessly and often unseen for the promotion of workers’ rights and international cooperation. It’s not perfect, but we need to have a voice in the EU to be able to push for its democratisation, which is why I’m really pleased that OULC voted by such a large margin to support the ‘Yes’ campaign. The labour movement is an international movement.”
Nedvídek added in a separate statement to Cherwell, “‘The issue of Britain’s place in the European Union is a divisive one in all parties except UKIP. I think it’s so important that we try to accommodate this diversity in the Conservative Party by not taking an official stance on the issue.”
“‘The Party, and OUCA, have always been broad churches, incorporating all types of different views. Rather than pointing at people who disagree with us and telling them to go elsewhere, I’m delighted that OUCA has made it clear that everyone is welcome.”
David Parton, who is at St Hilda’s and who proposed the motion to OULC, told Cherwell, “This [position] is in line with UK Labour Party policy…Labour’s values of internationalism, solidarity and cooperation shine through in our policy stance, and we find it indicative of how increasingly feral the eurosceptic Tory right is becoming that OUCA was unable to commit to anything.”
These developments follow NUS President Megan Dunn having taken up a position on the board of the national ‘In’ campaign ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ last month.
OUSU also endorses Britain’s continued membership of the EU. In its Seventh Week meeting of Trinity 2015, a motion was passed, stating, “This council believes that Britain should remain a member state of the European Union.”
While no date has yet been set, the EU referendum must take place before the end of 2017, although it is speculated that it could be as soon as Autumn 2016.