SEVEN years after Lord Tebbit disbanded the Federation of Conservative Students for unruly behaviour and built a veto clause into the subsequent election of student chairmen, the current party chairman, Sir Norman Fowler, has decided to eradicate the veto, giving the election process a free reign. The move suggests that - unlike the often reactionary Young Conservatives - Tory students are seen once again as representative of party policy.
The thaw comes eight years after Tebbit closed the organisation following the emergence of a right-wing leadership typified by Harry Phibbs, then editor of the student magazine. Tebbit sued Phibbs on behalf of the party after the student wrote an article accusing Harold Macmillan of being a war criminal; Tebbit also closed the organisation, though it was later reopened under a new name, Conservative Collegiate Forum.
Though the ensuing student chairmen were elected democratically, Tory Central Office retained the power to appoint a candidate without a majority. This power was rarely used, although there was speculation, perhaps unfair, that the deputy party chairman Gerry Malone aided the appointment of this year's pro-European chairman, Tim Kevan, over an anti-Europe rival. Kevan, however, is delighted by the removal of the veto: 'It is a mark of trust and respect for the fact the Tory students have been growing so fast,' he said.
NO publisher likes to print errata slips, but it's cheaper than starting again. The publishers of William Salmon's Horae Mathematicae Sen Urania - The Soul of Astrology (1679), certainly not prepared for extra expense, inserting a note in a copy found in the British Library 20 years ago. According to Derek Parker, editor of The Author, it read: 'Errata. Reader, the Coppy had a mifchance, and fell into a Veffel of Oyle, by which it became almoft illegible, and from whence arofe the following Errors; the moft material we have here noted, what elfe thou meeteft with, Correct alfo with thy Pen.'
A snail's profits
AS AIR Europe's former chairman Harry Goodman heads for the courts in his attempt to regain something of his lost fortune, his erstwhile number two, Peter Smith, has turned his back on aeroplanes and moved into catering. The commercial powerhouse behind the rise of the International Leisure Group in the Eighties - his business acumen was also spotted by Prince Charles, who made him fund-raising supremo for the Prince's Trust - he has now set up the Slow Food Company, which turns suburban pubs into Continental-style brasseries. The venture's first acquisition, the Snail, in Cobham, Surrey, is seven months old and doing well. 'It's a funny old world,' sighs Smith. 'I thought I'd made my pile in aircraft which flew at 500mph. Now it's all down to the Snail.'
ORGANISERS of a women-only arts festival crashed by a male student who sold a painting for pounds 50 after exhibiting it under a female pseudonym have had the last laugh: he will either have to change his name by deed poll, or find a friendly woman with the right name - Gladys Day - to cash the cheque.
Girl guides' lib
CANADIAN girl guides have always promised to do their best, to do their duty to God, the Queen and their country and to help other people every day, especially those at home. No longer. Now they proclaim: 'I promise to do my best, to be true to myself, my God/faith and Canada. I will help others and accept the guiding law.' Members of Canada's Monarchist League have 'come out drums beating and arms flailing' at the snub to the Queen and are plotting revenge. Anyone trying to sell them girl-guide cookies should think again.
A DAY LIKE THIS
March 29 1940 John Steinbeck writes: 'Late, late in the night we recalled that Horace says fried shrimps and African snails will cure a hangover. None was available . . . we tore the remedy down to its fundamentals and decided that it was a good strong dose of proteins and alcohol, so we substituted a new compound - fried fish and a dash of medicinal whisky, and it did the job . . . With few tribal exceptions, our race has a triumphant alcoholic history and no definite symptoms of degeneracy can be attributed to it. The theory that alcohol is a poison was too easily and too blindly accepted. To the race in general, alcohol has been an anodyne, a warmer of the soul, a strengthener of muscle and spirit. It has given courage to cowards and has made very ugly people attractive. There is a story told of a Swedish tramp . . . He was ragged and dirty and drunk, and he said to himself softly and in wonder, 'I am rich and happy and perhaps a little beautiful.' '