Brian messaged a group chat saying "Marsh and I think we may be able to sneak you onto the electoral roll, if you pretend to be members"Element5 Digital

A candidate in an upcoming Cambridge University Conservative Association (CUCA) election has dropped out of the race today (12/03) after encouraging malpractice in order to win votes. He had sent messages telling Cambridge University United Nations Association (CUUNA) members to pose as CUCA members in order to vote for him.

Thomas Brian announced his intention to run for the position of CUCA vice-chairman to CUUNA members on Thursday (10/03), telling the group chat “I’m in a quite contested run for CUCA Chairman”.

Brian then asked students to vote despite not being members of CUCA, saying “I’m not going to ask you to buy membership – £20 would be a bit much for one vote.”

He instructed people to lie to committee members of the association, and said: “Give the woman at the door [of the Dominic Grieve event] your name and say you are members.”

Brian clarified the aim of this was to add non-members to the electoral roll: “[Zachary] Marsh and I think we may be able to sneak you on to the electoral roll, if you pretend to be members”.

He also suggested people attend the association’s flagship social event, telling them “It may also be possible to go to the Port and Policy event at the Union on Saturday”.

Marsh was “shocked” at the accusations, saying that he “had not heard anything about this until I received [Varsity’s] request for comment.”

Brian told Varsity: “The allegations made against me are entirely true”. He stressed he “acted alone, without the involvement of Zachary Marsh” and “faced significant pushback from CUUNA members”.

As a result of the scandal, Brian said “I will be dropping out of CUCA’s upcoming election and am accepting all responsibility for the matter.”

CUUNA members who saw these messages immediately challenged Brian on the group chat, with one replying “absolutely not”. Former CUUNA chair Flora Thurston told Varsity she saw “[Brian’s] request as completely unacceptable”.

She added: “I can confirm that no one else on that chat had any interest in participating in CUCA elections in any way”.

“The society has no interest in organisations like CUCA. I’m proud that it has always had a reputation for doing meaningful work on international problems and for facilitating serious discussion on global issues.”


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She was critical of Brian’s conduct, finding it “at complete odds with values and principles that last year’s team and I worked hard to promote”.

The misconduct Brian encouraged violated the CUCA constitution, in which “only paid up Ordinary Members of the Association… are entitled to vote in elections”.

CUCA’s electoral roll changes each term and is recorded in person because members may only vote if they have attended at least one event that term.

One CUCA member told Varsity: These events are deeply upsetting. It is disappointing that members of this great society have resorted to such malignant tactics”.

They continued: “The one positive aspect of this debacle is that this era is over. I look forward to CUCA moving on to a brighter future”.

Another anonymous CUCA member added: “I wonder how unpopular you have to be to rig an election in an already unpopular society.”