TT20 co-chair Ali Zubaidi takes a look at how the OULC alumni in Starmer’s shadow cabinet fared during their time at OULC.
The election of Keir Starmer to the position of Labour leader has brought with it an inevitable Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. This brought big changes, with Corbyn allies such as McDonnell, Abbott and Butler losing out on their positions. However, the reshuffle one was a fruitful one for OULC alumni. It saw long-time supporter, and Oxford East’s very own, Anneliese Dodds promoted to the position of Shadow Chancellor, Nick Thomas-Symonds receiving the position of Shadow Home Secretary, Rachel Reeves getting the nod as Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and former party leader (and OULC Chair) Ed Miliband becoming Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Looking through the archives, we have found some snippets of history coming from our OULC alumni. This includes an article that Nick Thomas- Symonds wrote for our publication ‘Look Left’ in 1998, and Rachel Reeves’ manifesto for Chair:
Nick Thomas-Symonds Week 6 Michaelmas 1998
One Labour Policy is to work to eradicate poverty in inner city areas. It is of paramount importance. Inequality within our society is greater now than at any time since 1945. The gap between the high and low wage earners is now wider than at any time since the 1880s. Under Thatcher, the richest tenth of the population became 50 billion pounds richer whilst the income of the poorest tenth fell by 17%. Moreover, one in three children grows up in poverty. This is not simply the opinion of an ivory tower PPEist in Oxford University: this PPEist is from a South Wales Valley town where the decline of primary industry has led to mass unemployment. On first-hand evidence, it is wrong to say that the poor believe that their plight is their own fault. In South Wales, certainly, they feel cheated. Their jobs, their dignity and, above all, their culture, are still in the coal: the surplus of coal still available that they can no longer mine. Last weekend I stood and looked at the scarred landscape and saw the slag heaps that were once so fateful at Aberfan; underneath me was the Malvern Pit, the tomb of those who perished in 1911. The people of South Wales, the cockpit in the pioneering days of British Socialism, deserve new opportunities. They are not classed as being inner cities and the New Deal has yet to make a great impact. Wealth redistribution may in the end prove to be the only answer; however, the New Deal will hopefully, provide employment despite the economic climate; Blair has to be applauded for his motives. Aneurin Bevan may yet be proved wrong by Blair in saying that socialism is the only hope for mankind. Indeed, we must hope that Bevan is not right about people who stand in the middle of the road…
Anneliese Dodds: foreword of Look Left HT19
While Oxford can be a city of incredible wealth, it is also a city of appalling deprivation. As just one example, half of the children attending the primary school on my Council estate (Rose Hill) are growing up in poverty. OULC has always brought that understanding of our city, in all its complexity, into student politics – and I am immensely grateful for that. On issues from rough sleeping and homelessness more generally, to cuts to mental health and to policing that have affected students, we have a shared agenda across the Club and Oxford Labour. This kind of solidarity, between students and other residents of our city of Oxford, is more important now than ever.
Ed Miliband from Joseph Hettrick’s “A History of Oxford University Labour Club”
‘Ed, or ‘Ted’ as he was then styled, matched David’s political achievements as President of Corpus Christi JCR and President of the Labour Club. Nonetheless they were already different creatures. Whereas David worked closely with the college to achieve disinvestment from South Africa, Ed was more confrontational, describing the Corpus rent strike which he instigated as one of his best experiences in Oxford. Ed Miliband was already a TEABAG – a member of The Eminent Association of Benn Archive Graduates, and to the left of David. He persuaded Benn to speak to OULC, resulting in an audience of 300 people, when usually all it could muster was 12 or 15 people.’
Here is Reeves’ OULC Manifesto for Club Chair:
We hope that you have enjoyed these snippets of OULC history. We give our thanks to Joseph Hettrick for creating our Centenary Journal, from which we took some of this information. It truly is a must read if you’d like to get to know more about the hundred-year history of this fantastic club. We wish Keir and his shadow cabinet all of the best in opposition.