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Oxford University Student Societies Mobilise for General Election

Oxford student political societies have responded to the Prime Minister’s recent announcement of a general election, which will be held on July 4th. The Oxford Labour Club (OLC) have added events to their termcard, whilst the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) have mentioned the general election in circulations on social media.

The University’s political student societies adapted their term-time plans to engage their membership for the general election. Jack Hurrell, OLC Co-Chair, told Cherwell that OLC’s termcard has “completely changed” and now includes events, such as a campaign launch party on May 31st, as well as campaign training sessions. In addition, they are coordinating canvassing in Oxford and nearby target seats. Hurrel told Cherwell that OLC members recently visited Rugby and Filton and Bradley Stoke, with further plans to canvas in other seats, in “Banbury, Swindon South, Watford, Reading, and Milton Keynes.” Campaigning is being coordinated in a recently established WhatsApp group chat with over 90 members. 

The Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) have not yet published any changes to their termcard. In promotions on social media for their most recent ‘Port & Policy’ (P&P) event, held on 26th May, they publicised this as the first P&P “post-General Election announcement.” The motions circulated on their social media included ‘This House would support Labour’ and ‘This House would declare independence.’ 

After Trinity term, some political societies are preparing to continue campaigning over the long vacation. Hurrel told Cherwell OLC have plans in place to “create ‘hubs’ in different areas of the country, such as the North West and London.” These will be led by a local, experienced campaigner and aim to enable OLC members that live in the same area to campaign together.

In campaigning efforts, student societies must adhere to budget restrictions due to their affiliation with their respective parties. Their spending counts towards the expenditure regulated by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. The government increased constituency spending limits by 80% in 2024, raising it to £54,010, which reflected inflation in the cost of campaigning since the Act was first introduced.

In response to this, Hurrell told Cherwell: “Our first priority is to stay on the right side of the election law so we take this really seriously. We are taking advice on how to ensure that our campaigning remains fully lawful.” Spending limits come into force 365 days before polling days, meaning the regulated period for the next general election began on July 6th 2023. 

Cherwell contacted OUCA, Oxford University Liberal Democrats, Oxford Student Greens Association and the October Club for comment.

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