Owen Jones, Corbyn 2020, and sex in embarrassing places

This article was published in The Cambridge Student on 21 April 2016.

There’s something uncomfortable hanging in the air on the evening I meet Owen Jones for a drink by the river. Something unsaid, lingering like a bad smell.

To be precise, it’s the fact that I once wrote a reasonably lengthy bit of ‘Owen Jones meets Christian Grey’ fan fiction as a series of tweets on a train from Cambridge to London in my first year. We both know that these tweets are, to date, our only form of communication, but it’s probably best left undiscussed.

Similarly uncomfortable is the challenge one heckler shouted out as Jones gave a talk at the Cambridge Literary Festival earlier that day: “Run for Parliament!” I ask him if there’s any chance, and the suspiciously long spiel that follows is best condensed as: ‘I don’t have particular ambitions to do so, but I wouldn’t say no.’

“I think if I became an MP there’d be people going: ‘See, a careerist, ambitious all along, this was all some ploy to become a politician’. You know, it wasn’t.

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‘As a woman, you get screwed over at every stage’: Helen Lewis talks feminism and nice women

This article was published in The Cambridge Student on 21 April 2016.

It’s a sunny afternoon, and in the hustle and bustle of the Cambridge Literary Festival’s HQ at the Union, Helen Lewis, Deputy Editor of the New Statesman, is taking some time out to reminisce with me on the stairs.

“We had proper things to be upset about in my day, and I genuinely think this”, she says, reflecting back on her time as a student at university.

“Having the Iraq War and tuition fees were the best possible things that could have happened for student activism, because everyone really knew what side they were on, there was a very clear enemy and we were all united in the fight against someone else, and I don’t think there’s a defining issue that everybody feels viscerally attracted to, and that makes it harder.

“One of the great things about activism is that feeling of solidarity and that feeling you have of fighting alongside people and changing things is an achievement. It’s much harder now for students now to get that sense of solidarity and achievement.”

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David Aaronovitch: Oxbridge’s ‘absurd snobbery’ and vomiting at Etonians

This article was published in The Cambridge Student on 21 April 2016.

David Aaronovitch is much like you’d expect an opinion columnist to be, which would make sense, as he has written a weekly column for The Times since 2003.

He looks at you with a slightly stern gaze, takes some time after each of my questions trying to work out what angle I’m looking for, and then ploughs into an answer that is simultaneously headstrong, yet considered; argumentative, yet open to discussion.

It’s this temperament that sets him on a clear collision course with a new generation of students, at Cambridge and elsewhere, advocating policies of no- platforming, safe spaces, trigger warnings, and the old controversies we’re all sick of hearing about.

It’s a dangerous topic to get him started on. “What I see is a generation of student politicians which is incredibly up its own arse, just to the nth degree, inventing things which can make politics about it rather than about the wider world.

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University’s business guru dismisses links to ‘Panama Papers’ law firm

This article was published in The Cambridge Student on 4 April 2016.

The Chair of the Judge Business School’s Advisory Board is one of many Cambridge figures who were today revealed to have connections to offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca, which has been subject to the largest ever leak of confidential documents.

Lord Bilimoria is a crossbench peer in the House of Lords as well as being an Honorary Fellow of Sidney Sussex College since 2007, and is one of the shareholders of a Virgin Islands company called Mulberry Holdings Asset Limited.

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Giving in on class lists shows Cambridge’s failure on student democracy

Published in The Cambridge Student on 02 April 2016

By the time it gets around to mid-June, you can bet that at least 60% of those sauntering up to the class lists outside the Senate House will be ‘tired and emotional’ in some way other other, whether through horrendously cheap Sainsbury’s Cava, or the sheer horror of the hangover currently clouding all five of their senses.

The end of the Cambridge year is an enormously amicable time. Friends giggle merrily at each other as they cycle side-by-side over Orgasm Bridge, you actually almost mean it when you say ‘don’t worry it’s fine’ to whomever just spilled Pimms’ on your trousers, and there’s a chance you even manage to break a smile as you saunter past the token college homophobe.

There is, naturally, a minority of the student population for whom this time causes immense distress focussed squarely on the issue of results. For these individuals, the publication of class lists outside the Senate House is genuinely distressing, and we should not cast aside their concerns lightly.

That being said, for the vast majority of the student population the Senate House experience is harmless, amicable, and nicely quaint, which makes the University’s move towards abolishing the practice a little confusing.

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The Cambridge University Charity Fashion Show was an artistic triumph, but an access disaster

Published in The Cambridge Student on 18 February 2016

First up, some truths universally acknowledged, because they supposedly make for good openers: charity, and the act of raising money for charity, is a good thing.

Fashion – as a type of art – is a good thing. Supporting and promoting the work of student fashion designers, is a good thing.

An extraordinary amount of hard work went into putting on the Cambridge University Charity Fashion Show, which looks set to have raised around £10,000 for (you guessed it) charity.

Another truth universally acknowledged: The coverage of the event in The Daily Mail and The Sun was sexist, pervy, and, to use the de rigeur term, basic. Now here comes the more complicated part. What impression of Cambridge – of its students, and of the University as a whole – will the thousands of potential Cambridge applicants reading these articles have?

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The time has come to help men out on higher education: We must tackle privilege wherever it lies

Published in The Cambridge Student on 14 January 2016

To cast the debate about the latest revelation on the gender gap in universities across the country as a simple battle of the sexes – a binarist war fought on the same tired, essentialist lines as so many others – is to show a wilful refusal to engage in what makes this issue both so crucial and so interesting.

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