It was Henry Kissinger who said student politics is vicious because the stakes are so low, that logic applies to think-tanks. Over at the Bow Group the mother of all squabbles is raging and Michael Howard, one time chairman of think-tank back in 1970, has been called in to settle their increasingly vicious internal battle.
Rival factions in next month’s internal elections are briefing against each other as to whether the candidate for chairman, Brian Cattell, is eligible to stand. His opponent Craig Rimmer says that Cattell is over the Bow Group’s age limit of 36. The current Chairman, Annesley “Action” Abercorn seems to have upset pretty much everyone with his efforts to scrap the age limit to allow Cattell to stand. Abercorn denies he is backing Cattell but repeatedly referred to “the other side” when referring to Rimmer on the phone to Guido earlier.
Kwasi Kwarteng MP, a long time Bow Group figure, sent furious emails to other members describing “Annesley’s latest piece of madness … the worst type of student politics”. Opponents of the move include the MPs Sam Gyimah, Andrew Jones, Peter Lilley and Chris Skidmore. One rather bitchy new member said the change risked turning the Bow Group into a “failed candidates’ association” with chairmanship of the Bow Group seen merely as a way to revive flagging parliamentary ambitions. Abercorn, and his bus, gave a spirited fight in LibDem seat Hazelgrove at the election and Cattell stood in Leeds in 2005.
In August Abercorn chose a poorly attended meeting of the Bow Group Council in Brent to call an Emergency General Meeting to discuss raising the age limit to allow three members of the Council to be older than 36. Fewer than thirty people turned up to the meeting and it was declared inquorate. Abercorn then declared the EGM postponed and at another meeting a few weeks later, the motion was passed, clearing the way for Cattell to stand. Guido asked to see the minutes but apparently it was “private”. The whole drama spilled out onto Facebook at the weekend with both factions seizing the Bow Group account to get their version of events across to the membership. The world waits with baited breath for Michael Howard’s adjudication at a meeting scheduled for tomorrow…