OULC and OUCA societies duke out debate

Pacquiao warmed up for ‘the fight of the century,’ Oxford’s two political society heavyweights stepped into the ring to debate the election.

With just five days to go until the country decides, the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) and the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) both argued why their party should be leading the country for the next five years.

Finn McMahon, Noni Csogor and Lewis Willcocks spoke for Labour, against Jack Matthews, Maryam Ahmed and Brenda Njiru of OUCA. The Blue Boar Room of Christ Church College was packed with a partisan crowd who never hesitated to make their displeasure or delight known to the speakers. Questions came from the audience, testing the representatives on a wide range of issues in three categories: the economy; health, education and welfare; and home affairs.

The night finished with no obvious winner, although the poise, intelligence and passion of the speakers provided enough entertainment that the audience came out as the real winners, especially given the absence of an official Cameron-Miliband debate.

Two political society heavyweights stepped into the ring.

OUCA member Wojciech Woznicki told The OxStu: “The opening speech went far… in blasting through preconceptions people may have been harbouring about OUCA and the Conservatives.” While the OUCA performance was more consistent, Woznicki said, “OULC was elevated by a thoroughly impressive performance of Finn McMahon who managed the nearly impossible feat of making Labour look reasonable on the economy.”

Finn McMahon and Jack Matthews led the charge for both camps, providing some of the night’s more memorable highlights, including a jab at David Cameron’s disinterest in competing in a head-to-head debate with Ed Miliband. Despite the lack of recording equipment, the debaters grasped for soundbites: Tory-representative Matthews opened launched the first attack by proclaiming that Labour would “balance the books of today on the backs of the young people of tomorrow.” McMahon was quick to fire back, and insist that Labour “are the fiscally responsible party in this election,” prompting hisses from the OUCA audience members.

The economics round of the debate focused on issues such as the deficit, zero hour contracts, food banks, and economic inequality, with neither party emerging as the clear winner.

Following this early exchange, Conservative Brenda Njiru and Labour representitive Noni Csogor to stepped in to fight it out over health, education and welfare. Labour emerged on top in this round, despite Njiru’s fiery opening statement, accusing the Labour speakers of hypocrisy given their private school backgrounds. For Labour, Csogor focused on the “inhuman” profits made by private NHS contractors and the “appalling cheapness with which this government treats human life.”

For the final round, OUCA president Maryam Ahmed and Labour’s Lewis Willcocks took to fisticuffs over home affairs. The Tories seemed to come out ahead, using the issue of immigration to their advantage. Ahmed called out “the hypocrisy of the Labour party on housing baffling and disturbing,” referring to the Oxford City Council’s decision to ban rough sleeping.

That is, apart from one particular spectator who decided to leave during a discussion on the environment, with a parting comment that the threat of climate change was, apparently, “rubbish.”

The sole disappointment of the night was a sense of regret was that the country was never able to experience a Miliband verses Cameron head-to-head. However, this proxy-bout, with its fierce energy and enthusiasm was everything that the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was not.

PHOTO: Matt Cardy/Gett Images