When it emerged on Friday evening that the headline hugging reactionary Milo Yiannopoulos was among the nominations for upcoming rector elections at Glasgow University, a slew of national press coverage followed.
That Glasgow Uni has a hardline right-wing boys’ club element within its student body is, of course, nothing new. From the 139 Club to “get that woman out of my union” to Liam Fox (yes, that one) resigning from the student council in protest at “the gays flaunting it in his face”, there is a long history of this sort of shit.
Maybe we can count it as progress that rather than bragging about their bigotry from elected platforms as in years gone by, the university’s residual hard right fuckboys are instead hiding behind an anonymous page on the internet.
“We have unfortunately had to remain anonymous in our campaign thus far due to the violent threats that have been made against us and our supporters,” they whine in a status posted to their page on Monday night.
Having an election in which the key protagonists are allowed to remain anonymous seems like a strange form of democracy, particularly as – if elected – Yiannopoulos would be unlikely to attend any of his functions and, as is allowed, would send one of his wee helpers in his place. This is no token role, as it involves chairing the university’s main decision making body, the Court, and representing student interests on it. Yet – and perhaps no surprises here – Glasgow Uni are upholding the secrecy of the ten signatories behind Milo’s campaign.The university insist that, as in previous years, they will not be releasing details from the nomination forms, as this is “personal information”.
The inevitable flood of press coverage has sought to play up Milo’s chances of victory. “Some students believe Yiannopoulos is the best person for the role… More than 3,000 people have liked a Facebook page titled ‘Milo for Rector – University of Glasgow'”, goes today’s story in the Huffington Post.
A Thousand Flowers has scraped the metadata for those 3,000 likes. It exposes Yiannopoulos’ rector campaign for the the empty vessel that it is. Nearly 90 percent of those who like the page are outside of the UK, with more than two-thirds in the United States. Only 350 are in the UK – meaning a much smaller percentage will be in Glasgow, and eligible student voters, smaller still.
The only word from Yiannopoulos so far has been that he “might actually campaign to win this” and that he is “currently investigating whether a trip to Glasgow is feasible”, although it seems unlikely. If he is to have a public campaign on campus – essential for winning votes, given the tiny number of university students his so far entirely Facebook-based campaign has reached – then his backers will have to expose themselves, likely to massive public ridicule. Will they dare?
Other candidates include Lady Cosgrove, who is a leading judge and ticks all the right liberal boxes in her manifesto, promising to campaign for refugees and promote sustainability. Shame she’s actually an honorary patron for land grabbing settler-colonist front organisation the Jewish National Fund then!
As for the rest, we have PR-savvy lawyer Aamer Anwar, a Canadian professor who is only famous for being a transphobe, the Lib Dems’ Vince Cable, an American left-twitter bro who is volunteering with the YPG in Syria, and a bunch of non-entities and recent graduates to make up the numbers. The online vote takes place on 20-21st March.
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