Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Gays and Geeks: free speech rules again!

Whilst looking at the diary for next week I see another event with King's College is coming up, which reminded me that I had been at one last week where a young reporter from the Sunday Times was being guided about the room by Darth Clarke.

I had hoped to see another story about 'aren't young tories cool' , "their membership is over 15000 you know!" and "there is a real resurgence of Conservatism on campus". After all, since 2003, all the major papers have run through this standard story.

In my year it started "Nick Vaughan is a terribly nice chap...", and for whatever weird editorial reason The Guardian, The Independent and others cued up to lavish praise on CF for being hip and trendy which was quite a compliment at the time.

So, imagine my surprise when web searching for the story to see that an entire evenings schmoozing had resulted in this,

"Conservative Future, which wants a smaller state, lower taxes and a cure for spots, reports a membership boom in the north of England, where new recruits have apparently been attracted by bluff, plain-speaking man-of-the-people Boris t’Pfeffel Johnson. Being a young Tory had previously been a heroic struggle. Mark Clarke, the CF chairman, says his mother was slightly taken aback. “Oh God!” she gasped. “It would have been easier if you’d said you were gay.”

I must admit, on the night, I wondered at the wisdom of some of Mark's comments in front of a journalist. Sometimes there is a time and a place for the slightly more risque comments, and going further by dredging up the geeky, Tory-boy stereotype from way back when was probably offensive even to the quite forgiving uni crowd.

Still, there's no such thing as bad press. Right?


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