Saturday, September 30, 2006

How leftwing was Tony Blair as a student?

Blogging will be light this weekend and next, as I am doing a course on mathematics for economists at Birkbeck. I haven't touched a maths book since scraping the minimum O-level pass thirty years ago, and they reckon that by next Sunday I'll be able to do calculus. We shall see. As of now, I have only the foggiest idea of what calculus even is.

Other than solving tetranomial equations, the highlight of the day came after the lecturer let slip a throwaway line that he was an Oxford contemporary of Tony Blair, and that both he and Blair had been members of something called 'St John's Hard Left Caucus'.

Naturally I collared him in the lunch break, and discovered that he is an ex-IMGer, and that the said caucus included people of political viewpoints ranging from Labour left through CPGB to Trotskyist.

The received wisdom on Blair's student days - the pic top left dates from the period - is that while he associated with the left, he never joined any factions. A quick google throws up a feature article on the Telegraph website, based on interviews with Blair's student pals:

'Colin Meade, leader of the hard Left caucus at St John's, remembers: "He was very conscious of keeping his nose clean. He would dress up in silly clothes [a disreputable coat is particularly remembered] and hang around with Lefties but he had a sense, if not of his own destiny, of his own importance."'

Which I think is a polite way of saying that Blair was an arrogant tosser, even then. But was Blair a member of SJHLC, comrade? Meade doesn't actually say he wasn't. Fascinating. I shall ask my new acquaintance more questions tomorrow.


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