The political society Presidents found some common ground during the Union eventCambridge Union / Phoebe Pickering

“The government got the balance wrong,” admits Phoebe Pickering, Chair of the Cambridge’s Conservative Association (CUCA), denouncing Boris Johnson’s handling of the pandemic. But this more subtle criticism was nowhere to be found in Freddie Poser’s speech.

“[Boris Johnson has a] huge amount to be personally ashamed for in his government” said the Cambridge Liberal Association (CULA) President, adding “he is not fit to hold the role despite clearly wanting it since he was a small child”.

This is the first mock PMQs held at the Union in two years. Phoebe Pickering took on the role of leader of the government, answering questions from the opposition and, later on, the floor.

As commented on by ‘Madame Speaker’ - Emaan Ullah, this term’s Union President - it was a shame that CULC were not representing the opposition. It may have resulted in an even more lively evening.

Speaking about the difficulties with the association between University politics and the political parties, Pickering highlighted the misconception that they would be “totally in accord with the government’s line”, and in fact preferred to associate herself and the society with Tory backbenchers pushing for greater scrutiny of the government’s measures.

Pickering was of the view that the government was “far too dismissive of what many Conversative MPs have been advocating for: a more Sweden-style approach to the virus”. Poser maintained his stance from the PMQs reasserting his view on the “shambolic job of the government″ in dealing with the pandemic especially in education.


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Both students criticized the opposition. Pickering asserted that “the most effective opposition is actually coming from the Tory Party itself”, claiming Labour should be taking a more critical stance regarding the measures implemented by the government. Poser added that Keir Starmer’s lack of commitment in criticising the government’s measures was “clearly a political strategy … designed to play well in the polls”.

They also expressed concern for the treatment of students during the pandemic. Speaking of the exam results fiasco this summer, Pickering said she didn’t “understand how the government thought doing it via an algorithm would be accepted because obviously the students don’t have any level of ownership of the grades if it’s randomly generated”.

Both agreed it was the right decision for younger pupils to return to school, but Poser and Pickering were less forgiving towards the government’s treatment of University students. Poser emphasised how students facing adherence to strict regulations at University “should be able to go home if they wish and they should be treated like citizens.”

“Universities are desperate to get students back and paying rent, but I do think students were sold the false promise of in-person education and relative freedom after 6 months of lockdown and being at home, only to find that a lot of the time they are being treated like prisoners, but ones who have to pay for the pleasure.”

As for how the student political societies have fared amid the pandemic, Poser admits “Freshers’ Fair was difficult. But the move online has not been all bad, according to Pickering: “we’ve managed to get Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, people like that wouldn’t otherwise make the journey, so there are pros and cons”.

For Poser, there has been a silver lining too. “The transition online earlier in the year has meant the community was kept alive over the summer”, he says, arguing CULA was able to host international speakers, online events, socials - and even a book club.