During his 1969 presidential campaign, the ever stoic Richard Nixon pleaded for the support of ‘the great silent majority’—a class of people whose cowardly disinterest in politics and disregard for social justice he believed would secure him the election. Since then, this mysterious group has continued to receive attention across global politics and in 2014, David Cameron too begged them to oppose Scottish Independence. Yet still, these mute and possibly confused individuals refuse to identify themselves or enter debates. Instead, they have been overshadowed by a ‘loud minority’ of political elites. And in the run up to today’s election in Britain, this same palaver has been played out in the University of St Andrews political microcosm.
Formed in 1867, the St Andrews University Conservative and Unionist Association (STAUCA) claims to be ‘the largest and most active political organization at the University,’ but many campus skeptics have begun to question this claim as virtually all of their campaigning for today’s elections have been carried out by only one member, Miles Bateman. Bateman, a second year econometrics student hailing from Kent upon Kent, serves as club’s chancellor, head writer, and master of debate. He is also a general committee member and the designated schmoozer. Over the last two years, Bateman has been responsible for 80% of posts on the STAUCA Facebook page and 60% of their tweets. But, when it comes to the club’s articles featured on the University’s premier student newspaper, The Taint, every single one was written by him—a statistic which can only raise eyebrows. Bateman’s insertions into political debates have perhaps been even more obvious as in nearly every debate he has attempted to speak over his competitors. Even when seated as a member of the audience, he routinely hoots and hollers, muttering tired talking points under his breath.
Student responses to Bateman’s supremacy have been somewhat varied, but most point out that for a supposedly large organization, it’s surprising to see only one man running the show. “Seriously, is no one else available to write these articles? Does no one else want to enter a debate where we only regurgitate the beliefs of our parents and the rhetoric of TV pundits?” says one student on her way Tesco. Others are even more suspicious. In an interview with the Bejant on Monday, a lecturer on international Psychology, Dr Terry Fünke, argued that the entire STAUCA is just one person.
“I’ve read all the literature and I’ve been to all the debates, in fact, I often take my students with me to watch them. But every time the campus Tories do anything it’s always that Bateman fellow. Even when it’s not him, I still feel like it is because everything they write is just four paragraphs Labour-bashing and only one regarding wishy-washy policy. It could be my bad eyesight, but the debates are no better, because every Tory debater looks like the same damn blur of blazer, middle part, and oxford shoes. He sort of reminds me of one of those Scooby Doo villains. I just want to see who’s behind the mask.”
A fresher, Nick Shields, added to these concerns, stating that when he approached STAUCA at the Freshers’ Fayre that it was only Bateman manning the table and that when he tried to sign up for the club, the chancellor told him matter-of-factly that they were at capacity.
On Wednesday, we offered Bateman an opportunity to defend himself and make one last appeal to voters in advance of the elections,
“Listen, I’m sorry some of you may want a more equitable society and I’m sorry Jeremy Corbyn hates the United Kingdom, but what I will never apologize for, or um, never admit is that Tory soc is only one person. Come on, there are literally dozens of us, and it’s not my fault that we all went to the same schools, have the same chiseled jaws, and use the same thesaurus. Sure, I may write a lot and talk a lot, but my mum always said ‘the louder you are, the more fun you’re having.’ And I don’t see what that belief shouldn’t apply to politics. It’s funny actually, I’m not normally confused with other Tories, usually people are just surprised to find out that I’m not actually made up of millions of angry ants masquerading as a human. The truth is I’m your average Enoch Powell—and I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen an ant in my life. I don’t care who you are. I just hope that you’ll take this incredible opportunity democracy affords us and cast your vote for whoever you see fit, whether it’s Labour, Tory, or Ant.”
Written by L. Wyant