200 students back Boris for rector’s role

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MORE than 200 students have nominated Boris Johnson for the role of rector at Edinburgh University. The Tory frontbencher has received more nominations than the number of votes most candidates won in the last rectorial election three years ago, and five times the 40 necessary to be a candidate. Mr Johnson said: "I'm deadly serious about becoming rector of the University of Edinburgh. I believe I have a lot to offer as an ambassador for the students, the staff and the university - and I believe I can give a big voice to their concerns. "I want to learn all about the problems students and university staff face today and what steps must be taken by government to improve the situation." He has also received some backing from the Edinburgh University Students' Association. Vice-president of services Pete Harris said: "I am a huge fan of Boris's and fully expect him to be an active, approachable and student-friendly rector." However, Ruth Cameron, Student Association President, is backing Green MSP Mark Ballard.

49 thoughts on “200 students back Boris for rector’s role”

  1. Hold on, you want to learn first hand what problems people face? Here was me thinking under your new leadership you have to set up a policy group, proclaim all the manifesto issues from the last election are now wrong and then wait 18 months.

    Are you sure you’re allowed direct action Boris? It all sounds very militant tendency.

  2. Forgive me Boris,

    but if you REALLY wanna find out about the problems facing a high proportion of today’s students, you should get involved with a university like London Metropolitan. A place where students really do face difficult challenges and do not come from middle-class backgrounds.

    There are people within LondonMet who would be happy to talk to you about some of the problems faced by our institution and institutions like ours.

    Regards

    Andy

  3. I’m very worried about you, Boris: a leading article in “Right Now” magazine compares you to Enoch Powell, and concludes that you’re thinking the same way(!) Could the students of Edinburgh at least have the reassurance that you won’t implement any racist measures in their University?

  4. Is this proposed “Rectorial Elevetion” just another racket Boris? I would have thought that your armorial choice would have been crossed skulls.

  5. Comment from my father who did degrees in languages and economics at Edinburgh:

    “Boris will be a worthy successor to some big names such as
    Sir Alexander Fleming whose inaugural speech in the McEwan HalI I
    attended. The big thing is the inaugural speech which can be a
    considerable ordeal with flour, tomatoes, eggs, catcalls, loo rolls,
    horns, trumpets, which all have to be borne stoically by the incumbent
    and worthies accompanying him on the platform. Afterwards he used to be
    carried in a chair to the Student’s Union, which was a continuation of
    the ordeal!. High spirits prevail and I’m sure Boris will acquit himself
    well! Sir Alexander gave a po-faced address and proceeded undeterred
    through an account of his discovery of penicillin, experiments on dogs
    (“Wuff wuff”) etc. Apart from this I don’t know that the Rector has to
    do much. He chairs a few meetings, I think. Actor Alistair Sim was
    another Rector during my time. Later, I believe Gordon Brown was the one
    and only student Rector. I know there was one and I think it was he.

    Wish Boris luck for me. I’ve no doubt he will be elected.”

    I wonder if anyone can give an update on the ceremony…?

  6. As an Edinburgh University student myself, I am delighted to hear that Boris is standing. Although I am a member of another Political party and my views are the opposite to those of Boris and the Conservative Party, I think Boris commands respect across the political spectrum. We need more Politicians who are prepared to be themselves, who have a sense of fun and are not obsessed with their own careers-from whatever Party. I think Boris would bring to this position the unique, lively and engaging style that he brings to politics, and would be ‘one in the eye’ for those who perhaps take student politics more seriously than it is worth.

    I’ve not been to one of the ‘welcoming ceremonies’ for new Rectors before. Nonetheless, the account certainly seems believable: stranger things have happened in University life!! I was not aware of the tradition of carrying the newly elected Rector in a Chair to the Students Union, although again this seems bizarre enough to be true. I have a rather surreal mental image of Sir Alexander Fleming being taken to the Students Union, presumerably there was not a bout of binge drinking after his success in the Polls?! I shall look out for Boris around the campus over the next few weeks-he’s more than welcome to join me for a pint in the students union…. The offer of a night “rowing” in the Potterrow nightclub is also on offer, although I am not expecting to be taken up on this offer! I must add that in the likely event I vote for Boris-this will be the one and only time in my life that I vote for a Tory!

  7. Well, I voted Conservative last time, but if you are going to follow the Blairite line on top-up fees, then I don’t think I will next time. Can’t you take us back to pre-Major days, when there weren’t so many numbskulls at university, and when the government paid for the students who were (deservedly) there?

    P.S. Is it true that Scottish beer is so bad, it’s only good enough to throw over politicians?

  8. Why haven’t we heard much about the incident at Edinburgh University. I’m interested in the students comments.

  9. Melissa’s dad is right – Gordon Brown was indeed the first (and only) Student rector – they rewrote the rules to prevent it happening again. Ha!

    Sagal- regarding the beer incident, most students here aren’t hugely interested in politics, student or otherwise. Most are reasonably certain that Mark Ballard is going to be the next rector, because he has the backing of environmentalists People & Planet, with whose backing anybody can win anything.

    Andy Mitchell – there’s nothing stopping ‘real people’ students coming to Edinburgh – I’m one, and I live with two others from working class backgrounds. Nothing apart from achieving the necessary grades, that is.

  10. Although normally I would say a candidate with People & Planet’s backing is going to have a good chance of winninghere, I think Boris has a lot going for him. If only the seriously political students here voted then perhaps Mark Ballard or John Pilger would become rector, but I suspect there’s a certain celeb status also!

    I’m not sure if I’ll even vote in these rectorial elections, arguably most students here aren’t motivated enough to vote for much.

    (W.r.t. the drinking incidents, there were some interesting photos of ‘things’ he signed whilst here, perhaps not what I would expect a minister to be doing!)

  11. sounds good colin 😉

    I do agree that Boris seems to be the only one here with serious celeb status – he is certainly the most prominent around campus, and that will definitely go in his favour.

    However, to echo comments of another; those who are more likely to vote for Boris due to this status are perhaps less likely to vote compared to ‘die-hard’ Pilger fans (know a few myself…).
    In all, I think it will be a fairly close contest – mainly between Pilger and Boris.

  12. One thing that I have not seen anywhere is why Boris is supporting top-up fees?

    Is it because he thinks that there needs to be more money going into higher education? Or because he really believes that the market is the best for everything?

  13. I went to the debate at Teviot last night and it was interesting! I can’t really post anything completely honest here but Boris did seem to be the butt of many jokes all evening (he was entertaining) – this comes with the territory I imagine. No incidents the entire evening, I think we might be losing some of our activist edge here in Edinburgh? (Certainly not from Pilger’s representative who had some radical comments!)

  14. I seriously doubt Boris’ credentials, although I expect him to win by a large margin. The incumbent was Tam Dalyell, and I don’t think Edinburgh needs another politician as rector, I’d rather see someone who actually has some good achievement.

    Oh, and Boris a little tip – if you do become rector – Edinburgh is in SCOTLAND – not in England. They are two completely separate countries, and we do things differently here, for example control of higher education institutions, funding and academic arrangements in SCOTLAND is under the jurisdiction of the SCOTTISH Parliament, not under the defacto English Parliament of Westminster? OK?

  15. Geek-pie said:
    >Is this the same Boris Johnson who in 1998 was allegedly overhead talking to fellow public-schoolboy Darius Guppy about beating up a journalist?
    Geek-pie: I’m delighted to see you are posting the same penetrating, analytical question here as you did on Boris’s Climate Change page.

    Althought it’s hard to see the connection between global warming and his candidacy as a university rector, let me pose the same counter-question: Did they actually beat him up?

  16. Sorry, I have to answer this, since the deletion of the previous entry makes me look like a careless non-sequitizer. No, they did not actually beat him up. Geek-pie posted it in every open thread, as far as I can see. Troll.

  17. > No, they did not actually beat him up.

    Thank you, Raincoaster. You have answered the question.

    Allegedly talking about” beating up a journalist is a world apart from actually beating up a journalist (who may well have asked for it anyway). I fail to see what people like Geek achieve by spreading this kind of unsubstantiated slander, apart from making themselves look very silly.

  18. I just think the idea of two Etonians whacking a journalist is hysterical. Boris probably would have forgotten his bike and had to take the bus or something anyway. And Guppy would have had a late night and slept in.

    And hey, hey, hey. No journalist ever asked to get beaten up, except in the basements of certain clubs. Let’s not get into all that; imagine what Nixon would have done to W&B if he thought he could have gotten away with it.

  19. Quite right, Raincoaster. You shouldn’t beat anyone up. I use “asking for it” in the general sense of asking for trouble.

    Geek’s technique – a favourite among people with no solid argument – is to mention an MP and a rogue in the same sentence, expecting us all to gasp with shock (Guppy was involved in some kind of jewel scam wasn’t he?).

    Well sorry, dear Geek, it doesn’t work with me. Boris seems to enjoy talking to all sorts of people. It’s a pity he’s one of the few who does.

  20. Where’s the fun or honour in being rector of a university in a country where free speech is being slowly extinguished. The whole point of a university is that it should be a beacon of free academic inquiry.

    Why are none of the academics, MPs, newspaper editors or anyone else of much importance backing the brave defenders of free speech in Denmark?

    The one university paper that printed the cartoons was recalled and pulped.

    This was our Rhineland moment Boris and we haven’t heard a squeak out of you.

  21. As far as I know, convicted fraudster and fellow Etonian Darius Guppy asked Boris Johnson to supply the address of a journalist investigating Darius as he wished to either beat him up or have him beaten up. The story continues that Boris was unable to find the address and so did not supply it; nonetheless a rather unsavoury incident that arguably reflects on the way some public-schoolboys operate.

  22. Egg Sarnie:

    The story could equally have been about two graduates of Pentonville.

    What it had to do , in particular,with the normal behaviour of two persons of a particular background , ( unless you are of the same stuff as class envious Prescott) is in my opinion,totally irrelevent.

  23. Mac

    I fear you are not keeping up with the latest trends here. Had it been about two Old Pentonvillains then it would have been a Booker prize winning novel, an ‘important’ film that ‘dealt with issues’ and – oh – so much more besides. The natural nobility of the two class warriors would shine through the gloom of an ugly world. The journalist would mysteriously transmute from a bold Guardian investigator to a Murdoch bottom licking hack who deserved all he got. The Independent would inform us all that it was a ‘must see’ play when it hit the stage and so on.

  24. Well, it wasn’t a bold Guardian journalist, it was a bold News of the Worlder. That said, nothing came of it and there’s every reason to believe Boris was just trying to get a nutter off his back. Maybe not. But still, it’s not hard to find the address of a journalist. And BoJo didn’t give it up, nor do we have any info that he tried; just that he was asked. And god knows, I’m a socialist: why would I protect a Tory?

  25. J.R. :
    I’m apparently losing the plot on more than one thread here. Has that fugitive from Adelaide ex-Aussie lost his special slot in Tony’s top drawer recently , or what?

    Has the guy who hunted and trapped the entire Fox industry run foul of the anti-hunt brigade in the New Labour camp.
    Who was it , especially , that you had in mind as a Murdoch Arschlecker?

  26. Mac

    Don’t worry – it’s me. I used to have senior moments – now they are expanding into hours. I can’t even blame Tesco’s Extra Special Substandard Scotch.

    Nurse is coming with my medication. A very good evening to you all.

  27. Egg-sarnie wrote: As far as I know, convicted fraudster and fellow Etonian Darius Guppy asked Boris Johnson to supply the address of a journalist investigating Darius as he wished to either beat him up or have him beaten up. The story continues that Boris was unable to find the address and so did not supply it; nonetheless a rather unsavoury incident that arguably reflects on the way some public-schoolboys operate.

    As far as you know? AS FAR AS YOU KNOW

    Here we go again, another clever dick who thinks he’s got a cast-iron case by mixing “convicted faudster”, “public schoolboys” and an MP in the same sentence. At least he has the decency to temper it with “the story continues…”

    When will you empty-headed, class obsessed bigots realise that going to Eton is not a crime? Furthermore, it has produced some of the most influential thinkers of the last century, along with a clutch of politicians who maintained Britain’s high (and rapidly declining) standing in the world?

    So who do you want this country to be run by? Chavs?

  28. Well said PaulD.

    It’s a classic example of lazy argument which appeals to lazy thinkers. No sentence is actually false and as a whole the piece is not inconsistent with some view that the speaker wishes to support. The best riposte is ‘ and your point is..’ followed by ruthless slaughter of any logical non sequiturs that poke their ugly little head above the parapet.

    Whilst agreeing with your points about Eton I must remind you that Churchill was a Harrow man.

  29. Thank you, Jack

    Egg-sarnie is an amateur. If you want a better example of smear by association, see the Daily Mirror of 10 December 2005.

    By Bob Roberts, Deputy Political Editor
    SNOOTY David Cameron has dished out top jobs to fellow old Etonians,
    breaking his pledge to be a man of the people.

    Yesterday Mr Cameron appointed multi-millionaire Zac Goldsmith, another
    former pupil of Britain’s poshest school, to be his top environmental
    adviser.

    Eton crony Boris Johnson was given the plum job of Tory spokesman on higher
    education and failed Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin, who was at Eton in the
    70s, was kept sweet with the prime position of policy director.

    Another old boy Hugo Swire was made Shadow Culture Secretary. A senior
    Labour Party source said: “Far from looking for the best and the brightest,
    Cameron has just picked a few old school chums.”

    All good, sneering stuff. But let’s look a little deeper into this.

    First, Zac Goldsmith as described by The Guardian (no less): “The golden boy of British environmentalism and anti-capitalism” whose biggest beef is “the marauding, modern global version of capitalism that is taking over the planet via the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation, allowing huge corporations to plunder and lay waste to the world’s resources, further impoverishing developing countries and effectively keeping them in permanent bondage without them ever being able to catch up.”

    Oliver Letwin, again from the Grauniad: “In a seeming break from the Thatcherite ethos, Mr Letwin – who is now the director of policy for the Tories, masterminding a series of policy reviews – said that welfare was ‘more than a matter of safety nets – we should redistribute money’.” He was a director of Rothschild until 2003 and Fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge (1981-1983).

    I know less about Hugo Swire’s politics but, according to his biog, he has served in the army, worked in independent television, was head of development at the National Gallery and a director of a major London auction house.

    As for Boris, what more can one add about the master political freewheeler of our generation?

    It would be hard to find an assortment of people less like cronies. Cronies are yes-men. Cronies are in thrall to their patrons. They will always toe the policital line and may sometimes be good for a brown-envelope deal.

    All I see in this lot is open minds and considerable experience of the real world, unlike the polytechnic lecturers and professional committee-sitters who dominate Blair’s circle. OK, they went to the same school, an institution famous for turning out great policitians. I can well understand why Cameron finds it easier to deal with people he knows and trusts. That does not make them cronies.

    Of course the Mirror – and many of its readers no doubt – are not interested in the detail because it spoils their nasty little sport.

  30. I wish we at Glasgow had someone like you as rector – instead of Mordechai Vanunu (yes, the one who is incapable of leaving Israel) who was chosen as a cheap political stunt

  31. But PaulD, surely there are thousands of people who have the same views as those public schoolboys you talk about, but don’t have the connections that allow them to reach the same social heights. I think it’s fair enough if the Mirror highlights Cameron giving jobs to Etonians.

  32. Yes 20-20, it would be fair if they didn’t drown it with accusations of cronyism. And who are these “thousands” of Goldsmith / Johnson substitutes? Name me one.

  33. Surely Boris’ suport for top-up fees and the general impression that he is unwelcome from students makes for a pretty clear conflict of interests?

    Is he going for this role for the sake of the university, the students or his own agenda? And no, the three are rarely found together.

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