Letter: Uncool at college, unbearable now

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I WAS at Caius College, Cambridge, at the same time as Mark Leonard ("A mark of youth", Review, 29 November), and was also a colleague of his in the Cambridge Organisation of Labour Students.

I agree with Mark that Cambridge University, in many ways not yet fully meritocratic, is in need of reform. But his complaints that you had to be in bed by a certain time, that you had to wear a gown for dinner and hear Latin grace, and that you couldn't put up political posters in the window do not chime with my experience. I tactfully make no comment about his claim that he was expected to get a First.

Mark is also correct in saying that Caius College was very public-school, very traditional. There were lots of people there not from that background, though, and to me his unhappiness at university was largely due to his own personality problems. To be frank, he was the undersocialised political hack personified. For all Mark Leonard's faults he sure is good at stating the obvious very loudly (the BBC World Service rather old-fashioned - blimey!), and so I'm sure he'll enjoy triumph after triumph. Meanwhile the real work of socialism continues, away from the empty self-regarding world of think-tanks and media spin.


London N7