Village People: Career paths for young 'thugs'

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Indy Politics

While David Cameron and other Conservatives are understandably outraged by the vandalism that accompanied Thursday's student protest, let us not run away with the idea that the anti-Tory left has a monopoly on hooliganism dressed up as political activity.

It is 25 years this week since the Press Council adjudicated on a searing article that had been published in the Sunday Mirror alleging that the Federation of Conservative Students (FCS) was being run by a bunch of mad extremists. The Council ruled that it was justified overall.

That year, some FCS members had gone on the rampage during their annual conference in Loughborough, roughing up the Oxford University contingent for not being far-right enough. (The leading representative from Oxford was an undergraduate named Nick Robinson: whatever became of him?)

There were some colourful characters in the FCS in those days, such as the vice-chairman, David Hoile, who in recent years has acted as a leading defender of the Sudanese government. But none has had a more bizarre path than William Ian Beggs, former FCS chairman, and member of the Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign. In 2001, Beggs was sentenced to life for a particularly gruesome murder, after committing a series of sexually motivated razor attacks on young men.

Sweet Bullingdon days

After a roasting at last week's Prime Minister's Questions, Ed Miliband rehearsed his tuition fee questions with Greg Beales, his head of policy, who acted the role of David Cameron. "It's student politics, Mr Speaker – he is out of his depth," Beales exclaimed, in his best David Cameron voice. On the day, the real Cameron said Miliband was "behaving like a student politician, and frankly that is all he will ever be". Cue Miliband: "I was a student politician, but I was not hanging around with people who were throwing rolls and wrecking restaurants..."

Playing footie with the Russians

Speaking at a lunch for political journalists, George Osborne had a dig at the Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock, whose attractive Russian assistant, Ekaterina Zatuliveter has been accused of spying. Said the Chancellor: "It's an important lesson: you don't have to go to Zurich to get screwed by the Russians."

Pimm's and sandwiches?

Amid the ocean of information coming to us courtesy of WikiLeaks, one drop that passed almost unnoticed was the revelation of the love-in between David Cameron and the TUC. A cable from the US embassy dated 10 December 2009, relaying a conversation with the TUC general secretary Brendan Barber, said: "Trade unions do not expect a return to the Thatcherite days of hostility to labour... Cameron has publicly stated that he wanted a sensible relation with the unions, that he did not have an anti-union basis. Barber stated that the Tories have actually been 'courting' the unions a bit..."