Oxford University Conservative Association

The Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) is a student Conservative association founded in 1924, whose members are drawn from the University of Oxford. Since October 2009, OUCA has been affiliated to Conservative Future, the Conservative Party youth wing. Until her death on 8 April 2013, the Patron of the association was Margaret Thatcher. In the summer of 2015, Sir John Major became the new patron of the association. The Honorary President is Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Oxford University Conservative Association
Founded 1924
President Mr Kamran Ali, Christ Church
Honorary President Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Trinity College
Senior Member Prof. Paul Elbourne, Magdalen College
Home page http://www.ouconservatives.com

OUCA alumni include many prominent Conservative Party figures, including former Prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers. Among them are William Hague, Jeremy Hunt and Dominic Grieve. Past presidents of OUCA include Margaret Thatcher, Edward Heath, Jonathan Aitken, William Rees-Mogg, Daniel Hannan and Nick Robinson. Former OUCA committee members or officers include Theresa May, Sir George Young, Ann Widdecombe, Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Earl of Dartmouth. Former Labour ministers Ed Balls and Chris Bryant are also OUCA alumni.[1]


OUCA is run by its officers and committee, who are elected on a termly basis. The association has six Senior Officers, namely the President, the President-elect, the Treasurer, the Treasurer-elect, the Secretary, and the Political Officer, who chairs Port & Policy each week and is also responsible for organising campaigning events and social action. Four Junior Officers also help manage the association, as do its six committee members. OUCA's Returning Officer is responsible for running the elections and for administering association's internal disciplinary procedures. The President may appoint non-executive officers, such as a press officer. The Association's Rules and Standing Orders are available on its website.[2]

In October 2018, OUCA announced that members of the Bullingdon Club would be banned from holding office within the Association. OUCA president, Ben Etty, said the Club's "values and activities had no place in the modern Conservative Party".[3] This decision was overturned by the association's disciplinary committee, as non-members were brought to the council meeting that voted for the ban.[4] Despite this, the ban was subsequently reimposed by the association's Senior Member, Brian Young.[4]

Relationship with the national Conservative Party

OUCA members sometimes stand for election to Oxford City Council. The council has traditionally been Labour-dominated, and the Conservatives have not held a seat on it since 2001. Alex Stafford (President, Michaelmas 2007) stood unsuccessfully for Holywell Ward in the 2008 Oxford City Council Election, achieving an 8.2% swing for the Conservatives. His brother Gregory, now a councillor in the London Borough of Ealing, stood in the same ward in 2004. More recently, Poppy Stokes and OUCA President Maryam Ahmed stood for the Conservatives in the 2014 Oxford City Council Election in the Holywell and Carfax wards respectively. This trend of putting up students as candidates in the city centre continued in the 2016 city council election, when OUCA President, George Walker, stood in Holywell Ward.

Oxford University Tory Reform Group

Julian Critchley described the OUCA that he encountered on his arrival at Pembroke College in 1951. Despite its 2,000 members, he said, "it was dominated by a patrician clique who preserved their power by preventing the membership at large from electing officers of the association. These were chosen by the committee which, although directly elected, was easily open to manipulation." Critchley and Michael Heseltine, defeated in their bids for OUCA office, set up a rival Conservative society, the Blue Ribbon Club.[5]

In 1965 a group of OUCA members formed the Oxford University Tory Reform Group, pre-dating the national Tory Reform Group organisation. The OUTRG acted as a "one nation conservative" pressure group in Oxford, although it had a substantially smaller membership than OUCA. Interest declined as the national party became more moderate, and the OUTRG voted to disband and merge with OUCA during Michaelmas term 2007.

In an email to OUTRG members, its president Luke Connoly reported that an extraordinary general meeting held at the Lamb and Flag public house at 3 pm on 18 November 2008 unanimously voted to dissolve the OUTRG as of midday Saturday 8th week (1 December 2007) and to merge with OUCA. He cited falling attendance and a belief that OUCA had "genuinely become more liberal", adding that the merger "will make debate between wings of the party much easier and more productive". Later in the year, Douglas Hurd, a patron of the national TRG, lamented the disbanding of the Oxford Branch, saying that it was "very important that the One Nation view is powerfully represented".[6]

Port and Policy

OUCA's most popular regular event is Port and Policy, in which political discussion is helped along by fortified wine. Between Trinity Term 1994 and Michaelmas 2012, Port and Policy was held eight times a term on Sunday evenings in the Oxford Union. In Michaelmas 2012 the Oxford Union did not renew the contract,[7] and OUCA now uses other Oxford venues. Although the format is decided by the President and the Political Officer, two pre-announced motions are usually debated, followed by an emergency motion. The debate is held in a relaxed environment, accompanied by port. In May 2007, Port and Policy featured in the Channel 4 documentary Make Me a Tory. Port and Policy has been sponsored by The Spectator, who provided numerous complimentary copies of their publication, and Dow's Port, who provided discounted port. The growth in attendance at Port and Policy was featured in a 2008 Financial Times article as evidence of growing popularity for the Conservatives among students.[8]

In the media

The Channel 4 documentary Make Me a Tory, produced by Daniel Cormack, aired on 13 May 2007. It included footage from one of OUCA's Port and Policy meetings and an interview with Conservative party leader David Cameron.[9][10]

In Trinity Term 2010, just over a week before the 2010 General Election, the Oxford Mail reported John Major's visit to the association.[11]

In Hilary Term 2011, Courtney Love took part in a Port and Policy event. She joined the association, and the president appointed her non-executive officer for rock and roll.[12]


Accusations of racism

In 2000 four OUCA members were expelled from a meeting for making "Nazi-style salutes".[13] The New Statesman reported that a member of the OUCA committee at the University's 2001 Fresher's Fair greeted new students by saying, "Welcome to OUCA – the biggest political group for young people since the Hitler Youth".[14] Another member was dismissed from the Oxford University Student Union's executive for "marching up and down doing a Nazi salute".[14] In 2007 a drunken OUCA member gave a Nazi salute at a meeting attended by a former Tory MP.[15]

In 2004 an ex-treasurer of the association was found guilty of bringing OUCA into disrepute "after posting 'offensive' comments about India in a newsletter".[13] At an OUCA hustings in 2009, two candidates made racist jokes, encouraged by others present. The incident led to national media coverage[16][17][18] and an investigation by the University,[19] which then refused to re-register the association, forcing it to drop University from its name[18][20][21] and become OCA (Oxford Conservative Association). As a result of the incident, two members were expelled from the national Conservative party,[17] and the Oxford Union banned OUCA from using its premises for hustings and in-camera events.[22]

In 2011 The Oxford Student newspaper received leaked video footage of an OUCA member singing the first line of a song glorifying the Nazi Party in the Junior Common Room of Corpus Christi College after an OUCA meeting at the Oxford Union in 2010.[23][24] This led to the resignation of some current and former members of the association. The university launched an investigation into the society as a result of the reports.[24] The Dean of Corpus Christi subsequently banned all OUCA events at the college indefinitely.[25]

In 2020 a member standing in the OUCA elections was reported to have quoted from the Rivers of Blood speech while at a drinking event.[26] The member later resigned his membership, and dropped out of the election. During the same election, the losing presidential candidate, who would have been the association's first black president had he been elected, raised accusations that the election had been rigged against him.[27] He was then expelled from the association after its Disciplinary Committee ruled that he had brought OUCA into disrepute by raising false allegations.[28]

Unpaid debt

On 25 February 2012 The Daily Telegraph reported that the association had had an unpaid debt of more than £1200 in relation to a charity event held "in support of the Army Benevolent Fund at the Cavalry and Guards Club on Pall Mall in June 2009", which had not been settled until the beginning of 2012. As a result of this and other administrative shortcomings, the university for a second time refused to re-register the association for a period of 12 months, during which time it was again known as OCA, regaining university affiliation at the start of Trinity term 2012.[29][30]

See also


  1. Adams, Guy (5 July 2006). "Revealed: How Ed Balls was a Tory under Thatcher – Pandora, People". London: The Independent. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  2. "Rules and Standing Orders". Oxford University Conservative Association. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  3. "Oxford Tories ban Bullingdon Club members". BBC News. 12 October 2018. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  4. Gould, Tom (1 November 2018). "Tories revolt as OUCA President pushes through Bullingdon Club ban". The Oxford Student. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  5. David Blair, Andrew Page (ed.), The History of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA, Oxford, 1995), pp.17–18
  6. <http://www.cherwell.org/content/7468
  7. Eden, Richard (21 October 2012). "Oxford Union ends Conservative privileges". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  8. "Students back in force as party regains its 'cool'" Financial Times, 22 May 2008.
  9. "Iain Dale's Diary: Make Me a Tory: Sunday 8.25–8.55am Channel 4". Iaindale.blogspot.com. 12 May 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  10. "Make Me a Tory" via www.imdb.com.
  11. "Ex-PM Major speaks at Oxford Union (From Oxford Mail)". Oxfordmail.co.uk. 27 April 2010. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  12. Wilkinson, Matt (25 January 2011). "Courtney Love joins Oxford University Conservative Association". NME.
  13. "Oxford / News / Members suspended after OUCA's racist hustings". Cherwell.org. 15 June 2009.
  14. "I have seen the future, and it's lousy". Newstatesman.com.
  15. Henderson, Mark (23 May 2007). "People Jeremy Austin". The Times. London.
  16. Irvine, Chris (11 June 2009). "Oxford student Tories in racism row". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  17. "UK news". The Guardian. London. 23 January 2008.
  18. "University cuts ties with Tories". BBC News. 1 September 2009.
  19. "University Tory association's racism claims investigated (From Oxford Mail)". Oxfordmail.co.uk. 11 June 2009.
  20. "Race-row Tories told to drop university name (From The Oxford Times)". Oxfordtimes.co.uk. 25 August 2009.
  21. "Oxford / News / Proctors punish OUCA after racism scandal". Cherwell.org. 29 August 2009.
  22. "Oxford / News in Brief / Union bans OUCA hustings in Frewin Court". Cherwell.org. 30 July 2009.
  23. "Leaked documents reveal OUCA as "corrupt from top to bottom"". The Oxford Student. 8 November 2011.
  24. Rayner, Gordon (4 November 2011). "Oxford Tories' nights of port and Nazi songs". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  25. "Corpus bans OUCA". The Oxford Student. 14 November 2011.
  26. "Xenophobic 'Rivers of Blood' speech quoted at OULD debate". The Oxford Student. 28 February 2020. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  27. Team, News (28 March 2020). "OUCA presidential candidate expelled after election scandal". The Oxford Student. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  28. Team, News (28 March 2020). "OUCA presidential candidate expelled after election scandal". The Oxford Student. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  29. James Rothwell, Matthew Holehouse (25 February 2012). "Oxford Tories who failed to pay £1,200 bill". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  30. "Oxford / News / UK / OUCA Back in Business". Cherwell.org. 27 March 2013.


  • Anthony Berry and Douglas Wilson (eds.) with a foreword by the Rt. Hon. Anthony Eden, Conservative Oxford (Oxford University Conservative Association, Oxford, 1949) OCLC: 67886997
  • Martin Ceadel, "The 'King and Country' Debate, 1933: Student Politics, Pacifism and the Dictators". The Historical Journal, Vol. 22, No. 2 (June 1979), pp. 397–422 Jstor link