ELECTORAL mischief seems to be rife at the Oxford Union. Three weeks ago the young woman standing for Treasurer-elect faced a tribunal, along - astonishingly - with her mother, for breaking rules to secure votes. The pair were cleared, but now it transpires that intrigue may also have surrounded the election of the future President himself.
Right up until the voting, held a couple of weeks ago, the contest for the summer-term post appeared to be a two-man race between one Jeremy Green and one Peter Gowers. At the very last moment, however, Mr Green dropped out, opting instead to run for the much more lowly post of Librarian. The way for Mr Gowers was then clear.
Not, however, before Cherwell, the university newspaper, decided to print a dig at Jeremy Green, arguing that the reason for his sudden change in tactics was that he felt it would be more prestigious to be President in the Michaelmas term (next autumn) when the serious debates are held, thereby satisfying 'his inflated ego'.
Copies of the paper were due out on election day and Mr Green did not take kindly to the idea. First, he threatened legal action; then he resorted to a more practical course and stole virtually all the offending issues, hiding them under his bed. The course of the election duly went as planned, with both Mr Gowers and Mr Green securing their chosen posts. Relief all round then, although they did not impress quite everyone. Says the current President, Kate Wilson: 'I know. It's pathetic.'
A WARNING to all students at the London School of Economics: the Diary has just received notification of your union's intended march tomorrow in protest against Kenneth Clarke's cuts in student grants. Don't do it . . . at least, don't march as planned, to 'the Department for Education, York Road'. It moved two years ago.
Fight against Ades I HOPE that the contest for the Tory parliamentary candidacy for Cheltenham, scheduled for Sunday, is a more civilised affair than the recent council by-election in Guildford. The successful candidate, Conservative councillor John Ades, has written to Paddy Ashdown complaining about the 'very upsetting' behaviour of certain Liberal Democrats at the election, who donned red ribbons to demonstrate their commitment to 'the fight against ADES'.
'To treat such a major world disease with such derision is to my mind very childish and does not show responsibility at all,' wrote Councillor Ades to Mr Ashdown. Mr Ades has demanded an inquiry into the matter and has called for the expulsion of those found to have been wearing the ribbons that day. Mr Ashdown's office says that he has not yet been informed of the contents of the letter, dated 5 December, but they assure me the matter will be dealt with in due course.
TOMORROW the Queen will visit De Montfort University in Leicester to open the new engineering building. Under careful supervision, Her Majesty will be invited to switch on a wind turbine 4,000 miles away in Texas, via a computer link. Should she require details of the complicated procedure of computerised transatlantic turbines she will find she has a most competent instructor. His name? Philip Breeze.
A funny idea AS THE European Monetary Institute takes over responsibility for developing a single European currency next month, the debate is open as to whose head should adorn any Euro-wide bill or coin. The only British submission so far - and its proposers swear it is not a joke - is Benny Hill, who, they are telling the EMI, 'should rightly be honoured for his contribution to entertainment across the Continent and beyond'.
'Already we have had a good reaction from the Spanish, and some of the Italians,' says the campaign leader, John Hulme. 'The only people who were opposed were the Germans. They wanted Mozart, who was, of course, Austrian. Now that is a silly suggestion.'
A DAY LIKE THIS
8 December 1903 A C Benson, who wrote the words to 'Land of Hope and Glory', records his feelings on leaving his position as a housemaster at Eton: 'In the evening I had my last Private (tutorial). I examined the boys in History. They did very well. As they filed out I sat wondering - the lights bright, and a big fire blazing, flickering over the benches and the maps, and the inky forms, and the old books that I have known so long. How clear to me the picture of my tutor is, and the pupil-room, and the gaslight - it is strange to me to think that I too am part of the memory-pictures of some boys. I feel a little tearful at the idea of the work and the briskness and the young life all about . . . the boys have been at their very best - sweet-tempered, considerate, good. And I have not slackened steam the least, but have bucketed on to the very end.'