A first-year Oxford student has claimed he was assaulted for his political beliefs, following the Conservative Party’s success in this month’s General Election.
Shane Finn, a student of Christ Church College, described how he was returning from a third week Port and Policy meeting organised by the Oxford University Conservative Association when he was “seized by the throat” near the steps of the Bodleian Library.
According to Finn, he and a small group of fellow OUCA members were approached by two individuals singing “The Red Flag”, a traditional socialist song, just before one in the morning. According to Finn, the OUCA members decided to sing “I Vow to Thee My Country” in response, with the song intended as “light-hearted political banter”.
One of the ‘Red Flag’ individuals then allegedly “seized” Finn by the throat and “started to squeeze for about ten seconds” before being pulled away, having apparently “shouted that [Finn] was a traitor to his country for being Irish and supporting the Conservative Party”.
Following the advice of his college, Finn has brought a report to the police, who may prosecute. The case may also be deemed a “racially motivated attack” because of the alleged references to Finn’s nationality.
Finn said: “It’s shocking that this has happened, but not necessarily unforeseen given the amount of hate and vitriol being slung against the Conservative Party. With the venom we were on the receiving end of, it was only a matter of time before violence came into it.”
On the morning of the election result, Finn had also reported being targeted for his political beliefs, posting onFacebook: “So our party won the vote, but apparently it’s just because the electorate are stupid and don’t know what’s best for them. Oh, and today I found out that I am objectively an evil scumbag, yay for free and fair elections!”
From this point, it is the police who will take responsibility for any further action, and Finn is no longer personally involved.
According to Finn, he “owes a lot” to the other “Red Flag” singing student who did not attack him, reporting that he was “very apologetic” for his companion’s behaviour at the time. He has also said that the attacker has officially apologised.
In the aftermath of the General Election result, Oxford has seen increasing discussion over political affiliation, with Oxford Left groups uniting at a Planning the Oxford Fightback meeting held on the 13th May, and the Oxford People’s Assembly planning their participation in a national march against austerity this summer. A recent post on the Oxford University Practical Ethics Blog saw a philosophy academic arguing that people have an ethical duty to ‘unfriend’ those who had voted for the Conservative Party or ‘liked’ the party’s page on Facebook, describing it as “as objectionable as expressing racist, sexist, or homophobic views.”
Thames Valley Police has not yet responded to our request for further comment.