When I was at Oxford, I used to find student politics ridiculous – four hour debates on minor points of procedure about who got to decide whether the Oxford Union should get a new sofa. (Unfair, perhaps, as I based my opinions on overheard conversations, but still, there were definitely a lot of pointless discussions about discussions.) I was especially sneery about the young Tories of the Union – they seemed to be caricatures, Dickens characters brought to life by the misty stage set of Oxford.
It only ever dimly occurred to me that any of these people would actually go into professional politics and gain positions of real power. And then some of them did, and I’m kicking myself that I never took them seriously at the time.
So, current Oxford students (and students at any of the universities that are effectively feeder schools for parliament), can I ask something of you? Remember that your fellow students may well be running the country in about ten years, and take the opportunity now to try and either:
a) Engage them in a discussion of ideas that takes their concerns and views seriously, as then you might have a hope of changing their minds.
b) Persuade them to go into accountancy instead of politics.
c) If all else fails, take lots of photographs of them taking illegal drugs while dressed as a Nazi stripper and hold it in reserve, just in case they do become an MP.