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Infighting within the Oxford University Conservative Association continues as President Ben Etty passes the contentious Bullingdon Club ban through the Senior Member, in a move which has been branded as “undemocratic”.
The Bullingdon Club ban has caused divisions within in OUCA since it came to a head at the start of term. Initially, the ban was passed but then overturned as unconstitutional when non-members were discovered to have been voting. The Oxford Student reported on the 3rd week council meeting in which President Etty prevented a vote by leaving the room, causing an uproar as opponents of the ban attempted unsuccessfully to hold a vote in the President’s absence.
After the 4th week council meeting, President Etty announced that the question had been referred to Senior Member Brian Young who upheld the ban. The Bullingdon Club is now a proscribed organisation within OUCA.
This decision has alienated some members of the Conservative Association. One senior returning officer, Hugh Campbell, has resigned from his position in protest. Certain members are now planning a vote of no-confidence in President-Elect James Beaumont, who supported the ban, while a motion to allow a no-confidence motion to be proposed against incumbent President Etty is in the works. It is currently forbidden by OUCA’s constitution to pass a no-confidence motion in the President; an earlier attempt to change this rule in Hilary term 2018 failed.
One former senior officer told The Oxford Student: “Ben Etty and his accomplice, the President-Elect James Beaumont, have needlessly thrown his and his association’s reputation into disrepute”
“People who bemoan a second referendum have asked and asked again until they get the ‘right’ answer. People were brought to vote that were not members. He pleaded to the senior member to overturn democratic decision. Him and his top team walked out of a committee meeting. His junior officers have boycotted a subsequent meeting of officers. His whole committee is practically against him, it’s a disgrace. It has caused a good man, the senior ex-returning officer, to resign in disgust. In seeking a PR win, Mr. Etty has ruined his personal reputation”.
Speaking to The Oxford Student, President Ben Etty said: “I’m delighted the Bullingdon ban has been re-instated, as I’m sure are the vast majority of members. It is an important symbol of OUCA’s determination to modernise and become an Association for Conservatives of all backgrounds, and is long overdue. Appealing a decision of the Disciplinary Committee to the Senior Member is standard practice and an integral part of OUCA’s constitution.”