We have been busy in the People’s Republic with internal affairs of state. Unfinished articles, undelivered leaflets and distinctly under-exercised flab litter the land. Some people even expect us to do some work! So we were working up a nice head of steam to finally blast away at the disgraceful 10p tax band business, now crowned with its final turd in the shape of the Prime Minister going on Channel 4 news last night to tell us everything’s all right AGAIN.
But there have been one too many bloody silly stories lately for me not to saddle up and hunt cretins through the marshes with a great big stick, I’m afraid. First, Piers Moron and his all-singing, all-dancing inane questions almost made me weep with total unconcern, and I was only prompted to care about the whole thing when it became clear that the underwear of a number of newspaper columnists and, hem hem, Tory commentators would be permanently soiled as a result of the incident. And now this student-in-joining-university-political-society-and-forgetting-twenty-years-later-shock-meltdown. For god’s sake. Even the commenters on Conservative Home are questioning whether this merits discussion.
Leave aside for a moment the fact that everyone who has ever been to Oxford or Cambridge immediately pointed out that most politicised students joined several societies, for the social contacts and the chance to hear the speakers. Leave aside also the fact that by no means a majority of the members of any affiliated association were also members of the party in question. Leave aside the fact that Clegg’s name appears on the list only for his First Year and that he would therefore have most probably joined at Freshers’ Fair, a whirligig of fierce competition for the innocent souls of the newly matriculated that leaves even the most single-minded signed up to things like the CU Underwater Frisbee Society, the CU Amoral Sciences Club, the Franco-British Student Alliance (who are they fighting? The Central European Society, perhaps), the CU Guild of Change Ringers, the CU Lindy Hoppers and, if you’re really unlucky, the CU Netball Team (geddit? Think about the merchandise…)
Further, leave aside the fact that it has taken Greg Hands his entire career since leaving the rather small college he and Clegg attended at the same time to notice that Clegg is, what do you know, something rather big in the Liberal Democrat party, and offer his revelation to an astonished world. Leave aside even the fact that plenty of alumni have also pointed out that the officers of these societies are none too bothered about having people’s actual permission before signing them up, and that the sheet of paper in question was marked with various runes by Hands at a time when he was trying to get elected as an officer and was therefore drumming up all the support he could – by fair means or foul, if my memory of these people serves.
No, leave aside all that. Instead, consider Andrew Sparrow‘s hair. No, don’t, that would be mean and personal (and yet it is so strangely fascinating…) Andrew Sparrow is plainly of the opinion that joining the CU Conservative Association is, in fact, exactly the same as joining the Conservative Party. No, really, he is! That’s what his headline says. If he sets the standards for journalistic enquiry in this matter, who is to say what actual question Nick Clegg’s office was asked which prompted his unequivocal denial?
If it was, “Were you a member of CUCA as a student?” then Nick may well have genuinely forgotten, but it was still a bit daft to be that definite.
If it was, “Were you a member of the Conservative Party as a student?” then, well, the answer would appear to be unequivocally 100% absolutely not.
Dirty trick or sloppy journalism? You decide. I’m off to put a few cretins’ heads on spikes.