OULD to OULC: Join the club!

Oxford University’s Labour Club has made an appeal to win over disenchanted Liberal Democrats by offering them half-price membership.

In the aftermath of the Con/Lib coalition in Downing Street, the Labour Club has reached out to members of the Oxford University Liberal Democrats, with the hopes of forging a new alliance between the two associations.

In a letter to OULD, OULC pointed out the “progressive” status of both parties, and invited members to join OULC for half price.

The Labour Club criticised the Con-Lib coalition and invited Oxford’s Liberal Democrats to “create a progressive opposition that is as proudly liberal in its defence of civil liberties as it is socialist in its pursuit of fairness and justice.”

“This is an historic opportunity to unite the left in opposition,” said Stephen Bush, co-chair elect of OULC and sports editor on this newspaper. He believes the invitation to join forces with OULD will be a success.

Nationally, the Labour Party has gained 13,000 members in the past three days alone.

The letters have been left in pigeonholes this week, in the hopes that Oxford’s young representatives of the Labour party will have as much luck gaining new members as the party as a whole.

Whether or not OULC is successful in persuading Oxford Lib Dems to switch their allegiance, Bush said: “The morally responsible thing to do is try.”

But the letter has not received the wholeheartedly positive reception the Labour Club had hoped it would.

Henry Curr, a member of OULD, said he considered the invitation conceited. “I already knew the Labour Club are arrogant and stupid enough to view the Lib Dems as an extension of their own party, but their letter to me also showed their political ineptitude,” he said. “Do they realty think that they will attract many Lib Dem members by congratulating themselves on their ‘excellent’ record in government or reminding us of their “socialis[m]”?”

Curr praised the coalition efforts of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties. He said the way in which the Lib Dems have had many policies implemented while also preventing the “worst” Tory ideas shows a coalition is much preferable to an unstable Lab-Lib minority government.

Ex-OULD president Mark Mills also said he had doubts about the invitations, saying he thought it unlikely that many Liberal Democrats would wish to form an alliance with the Labour Club.

“Many of the current generation of OULD came into politics during the Blair government” he said. “They were angry about issues like Iraq, I.D cards and tuition fees.”

But some Lib Dems have welcomed the approach. Ravin Thambapillai, an OULD member, said that the invitation was a good idea as it encouraged a better exchange of opinions.

“They’re not asking us to join the Labour Party,” Thambapillai said. “It’s a good idea, people should have a better dialogue.”

Ex co-chair of OULC Ben Lyons said he hopes Oxford Lib Dems will be ready to “escape old-politics partisanship”.

“I think that the progressives in OULD will recognise that there’s only one centre-left party left in Britain,” Lyons said.