Tag Archives: oxford

Can we break open the chumocracy?

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Recent news reports suggesting that the “chumocracy” currently running Britain has enriched its personal contacts during the Covid-pandemic by handing out lucrative procurement contracts worth millions is a tell-tale sign of a self-entitled political elite acting like a law unto itself. This sickening self-aggrandisement is a reflection of a political system that lacks transparency and accountability – issues Liberals have long campaigned on. In the 21st century, why do we still have a political system that permits a small, well-connected elite to act as if the country’s riches are its own? Is it due to our political system or our education system? Are those issues inseparable? Fortunately, our neighbour’s politics show how things can be done differently.

In 2012 I moved to the Netherlands to study. 2012 was a tumultuous year for Dutch politics, the Dutch coalition government had collapsed in April and fresh elections were held just two weeks after I arrived in September. Keen to show a commitment to my new host country, I used to watch the news every night with my Dutch flatmates. I didn’t understand much but learnt enough to match faces with names. This was made easier by the location of my campus, just a stone’s throw away from the Dutch parliament.

It became very clear, very quickly that there was less distance between the Dutch public and their politicians than there is in the U.K. This transparency was characterised by the Binnenhof – a 13th century square that houses the Prime Minister’s office, among other government departments. Like Westminster, the Binnenhof is one of the oldest Parliament buildings still in use. However, unlike Westminster, you can walk right through it. Passers-by, tourists and students would shuttle through, occasionally stopping to gawk at the Ministers arriving in their cars.

It was easy to accidentally bump into Dutch politicians. One lunch break I found myself queuing for a cheese sandwich alongside Diederik Samson, then leader of the Dutch Labour party. The Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, was even easier to track down, he had a favourite café where he could often be found sipping a coffee and reading the newspaper. I think I’m proud of the fact that I was one of the only students on my course not to have asked him for a selfie.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 22 Comments

Layla Moran talks education and inequality

Layla Moran has given an interview to the Oxford Student about her life and political priorities.

She talked about her early life and the influence it had on her:

Layla, having been born to a British father and a Palestinian mother, spoke of some of complications connected to coming from a multicultural background. “We had to move around a lot when I was younger so when all my peers would say ‘I grew up in this village’, I could never really say that I had”. But it is exactly this, combined with Layla’s career as a maths and physics teacher, that has

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By-election update: Labour’s Oxford by-election tactics slammed

Election count progressingThere were three principal Council by-elections this week in Oxford, Shepway and Surrey Heath.

In Carfax ward (Oxford City Council) Labour held on with 168 votes (44.2%; +15.6%). Tony Brett, the Liberal Democrat candidate who finished fourth in May’s local election, came a respectable second with 101 votes (26.6%) and increase of 9% since May. The Green Party slipped from first in May to third on Thursday with 16.6% (-14.2%). The Conservatives and UKIP both polled 24 votes (6.3%).

Turnout in the ward was a record low of just 8.6%. …

Posted in Council by-elections and News | Also tagged , and | 23 Comments

Opinion: We can’t let councils discriminate against house-sharers

With the option of becoming a first-time buyer becoming ever more elusive for young adults, increasing numbers are turning to the Private Rented Sector (PRS) for their housing. Nationally there will soon be more tenants living in the PRS than in social housing. In areas with high housing costs and in university cities with a young population, the PRS has become a major part of the housing mix.

This shift in occupancy type has led to rather rapid changes to some communities, which has …

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Opinion: In pursuit of excellence

Earlier this month David Lammy MP highlighted the problem of the low number of black students admitted to Oxford and Cambridge Universities and called it the ‘Oxbridge Whitewash’. He wrote in the Guardian (6 Dec):

“Just one British black Caribbean student was admitted to Oxford last year. That is not a misprint: one student. Merton College, Oxford, has not admitted a single black student for five years. At Robinson College, Cambridge, a white applicant is four times more likely to be successful than a black applicant. Last year, 292 black students achieved three A grades at A-level and 475 black

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