Foreign Secretary's son wins election to lead Oxford students

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Indy Politics

William Straw, the son of the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, was elected president of Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) yesterday.

Mr Straw, who is 21, has pledged to use his year in office to continue his fight against tuition fees, which were introduced by the Labour government in 1997.

But Mr Straw, a third-year politics, philosophy and economics student at New College, will not be representing his father's party when he takes up his £9,500-a-year post after he graduates in June. He stood for election as an independent and there was no Labour candidate in the race. His rivals were Adam Killeya, from Balliol College, a Liberal Democrat; and George Callaghan, of University College, who stood as a representative of the Save the Oxford MA! campaign.

The OUSU is 27 years old and distinct from the well-known Oxford Union, a debating society. It has four sabbatical officers, a turnover of a third of a million pounds, runs campaigns on issues ranging from accommodation to gay rights, and issues more than a dozen publications.

During his time at Oxford, the younger Straw has won a reputation as a student activist to rival that of his father, a former president of the National Union of Students.

Earlier this year, William Straw was fined £55 for bringing Oxford University into disrepute by organising a 24-hour sit-in. He had co-ordinated the occupation of the university's Bodleian library in February to protest against the government imposition of tuition fees.

Last year, he led 40 fellow undergraduates from New College in a London rally against tuition charges.

In his election manifesto, he promised to streamline the student union's council by "kicking out time-wasters", and to monitor student feelings at a "grassroots level". He also wants the university to create a central facility for students.

William Straw first attracted national attention in 1997 when he was 17. He received a police caution for trying to sell cannabis to a journalist.