“For one reason or another the right wing has always been identified with taking things away and being nasty.. which is of course untrue,” says Cambridge student Chris Monk without a hint of irony. He talks and dresses like an pre-war Tory and sports a tangibly unfashionable haircut, but while other nineteen year-old students are dodging the TV licence man and watching Neighbours twice a day, he’s planning for a career in parliament.
Despite a wheelbarrow full of eccentricities, even the most ardent Tory-basher will find it quite difficult to dislike the kid. For all his piffle, there’s not a trace of snobbery in him – something which can’t be said of most of the other young Conservatives we see in Young Bright and on the Right. As entertaining as he is, Chris seems to be in love with the idea of student politics rather than the mechanics of it.
He laments the fact that he didn’t go to Eton, explaining that he felt lonely at his comprehensive, so maybe he just wanted to feel like he belonged. He spends most of his time discussing cheese and reminds you of a rather naive Boris Johnson.
Meanwhile over at Oxford, the Beeb have attached themselves to a very different character. Joe Cooke (above) is the ex-President of the University’s Conservative Association (OUCA) and we join him amid a controversy which makes it into The Daily Telegraph. Cooke is a determined young man and as we peel back the layers of pomp, there is a genuinely moving story surrounding his childhood, yet you can’t help but think that his propensity to burn bridges may hinder his political ambitions.
His story is far more interesting though. Unlike Chris, Joe is a schemer and under no illusions about how the different schisms of a party can operate. He pilfers information of people’s laptops and points out the best places to hold secret meetings with the enemy. You can certainly see why so many British cabinet ministers come from the halls of Oxbridge. Yet while you start this Wonderland film preparing to be offended by the sheer snobbiness of the whole thing, in the end you feel that the film-makers have given you a decent look through the keyhole of how this exclusive little club works. Even down to the Blackberry-touting student paper editor.