Members of the St Andrews Conservative & Unionist Society have taken top positions in the official Conservative Party youth organisation. James Bundy, Stephen Caulfield and Elliot Jordan have been respectively elected National Chair, National Secretary and East of Scotland Chairman of Conservative Future Scotland, representing all members of the Scottish Conservative Party under the age of 30. This marks a continuation of the success of STAUCA at gaining representation at a national level: STAUCA members Ian Donnell and Calum Richardson were elected Chair and Treasurer respectively last year.
This year’s successful candidates believe that this is no coincidence. Mr Caulfield, a second year studying Economics and IR, tells The Stand that “STAUCA has […] a very large membership, meaning we carry a greater weight within CFS than all of the other university associations. Combine this with the great work of our association committee, who’s organising of regular social and policy events means the association has a highly engaged and tight-knit membership that is willing to get involved and back our candidates in their droves. Such has been the level engagement, we have been able to achieve near perfect turnouts for all of STAUCA’s candidates over the past 2 years.”
Earlier this semester, STAUCA was accused of unfairly excluding students from joining, leading it to disaffiliate from the Union. Mr Bundy, who also serves as STAUCA Secretary, does not believe that this will prove a liability for his tenure. He claims, “The last executive committee did a lot of good work to minimise the damage caused to the party by certain individuals last year. Thankfully the issue is now behind us and we are now in a position, both in STAUCA and CFS, to move forward from this as the issue has been entirely resolved.”
First Year History and Russian Student Mr Jordan says, “I see no reason why acting to preserve ourselves as a truly Conservative group should cause anything other than congratulation from the rest of CFS.”
The Scottish Conservatives have not taken a stance on the disaffiliation, stating that it is a private matter between the society and the Students’ Association.
The new CFS office bearers have to contend with the usual issues faced by Conservative students in liberal-leaning universities. This does not seem to have caused much consternation among the trio. Mr Caulfield says, “Coming from Glasgow and being a great admirer of our greatest PM, Baroness Thatcher, I already know what it feels like to get criticised for my politics – and that’s putting it mildly! St Andrews has been a safe-haven in comparison.”
While Mr Jordan concedes that Conservative students are “an endangered species,” he adds that this has “had a hidden benefit of motivating us to get together in tighter-knit, more organised groups.”
STAUCA appears to be a tightly knight society: Mr Bundy and Mr Caulfield were roommates in first year, and many STAUCA committee members are close friends. As well as this cohesion, STAUCA is also known for its vocal presence in the student body.
Mr Bundy elaborates on this, claiming that “with an ever more left-leaning and liberal agenda being promoted around universities in Scotland, we need a strong centre-right voice. In the upcoming year, I want to see Conservative associations to stand up and make our voice heard throughout Scotland by taking a lead role in the campaign against a second independence referendum and the campaign against useless NUS ‘policies.'”