Party’s oldest student association accused of anti-Jew and Muslim hatred by its members
ENGLAND’S oldest Tory student group has been caught up in allegations of Islamophobia, anti-semitism and a culture of bullying after complaints were raised by its own members.
University College London’s (UCL) Conservative Society was hauled in front of a student union disciplinary panel last month over “various allegations” from those within the group.
The university’s union, UCLU, confirmed that three members of the society made complaints accusing various individuals of being “anti-Muslim” and “anti-semitic,” as well as highlighting a more general “culture of bullying.”
No formal action was taken but UCLU recommended the society apologise to the three complainants.
Former UCL Conservative Society vice-president Helen Chandler-Wilde told the Star factions had been forming in the group, counter-accusing some of her members of “causing trouble” and seeking to tar the society’s name.
“It’s all really immature,” she said at a Tory Party conference fringe on Tuesday night.
“They’re accusing us of all kinds of things, ludicrous stuff like being BNP supporters — which is simply not true.
“We’re going to have a meeting about it now. It’s confidential.”
Ms Chandler-Wilde and her fellow society members were attending a Tory Reform Group meeting, which she complained was “moderate.”
She told the Star that there was “a more right-wing event we’re planning to attend later that’s invite only.”
Anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate spokesman Matthew Collins, a former BNP and National Front member, said he would be “very surprised if the Tory youth wing had anything to do with the BNP — but that’s not to say some aren’t racist and very right-wing.”
He said: “It’s more likely that the youth wing are following in the footsteps of many senior party members by supporting Ukip.
“And as we’ve seen, Ukip says a lot of things that the other parties don’t say publicly.”
Mr Collins argued Ukip attracts “Little Lord Fauntleroys” and young Conservatives appeal to “unpleasant characters,” so it’s hardly surprising that some might say offensive things.
It wouldn’t be the first time a Conservative student group was forced to apologise.
St Andrews University’s Conservative Association did so publicly after their members burned an effigy of US President Barack Obama in 2011. And in the same year Oxford University launched an investigation into claims that Tory association students sang a song celebrating nazi massacres during meetings.
UCL’s Conservative Society was established in 1908, making it the oldest in England, though Glasgow University Conservative Assocation is the oldest in Britain, having been established in 1836 as the Peel Club.
The scandal is the latest in an avalanche of bad news for the crisis-hit Conservatives as senior Tories jump ship to Ukip.
Three defections were announced during the party’s annual conference this week, including an MP, a former deputy mayor to Boris Johnson and a party donor.