Cambridge University Chancellor: the race, the runners and riders
You may, understandaby, have missed the fact that the Duke of Edinburgh is to stand down as Cambridge University Chancellor (a largely ceremonial role -- but sticking up for the Uni in the media, plus a bit of fund raising, is thought to be a good added extra).
The Duke has held the job for as long as I can remember (since 1976), and I must say that I assumed that it was more often than not a royal job. How wrong could I have been? OK Prince Albert had a go in the mid 19th century, but that was unusual. But before Philip it was the scientist Lord Adrian (my friend and colleague Lucy's father in law), and before him it was Lord Tedder (a war time RAF leader and 2.2 from Magdalene, of whom I confess I hadn't much heard). Before that it was Jan Smuts (who had problems with the Cambridge fees -- we'll see that again I guess -- but got a first at 1893), and before him there was a couple of ex-prime-ministers (Baldwin and Balfour).
Anyway, the official candidate now is Lord Sainsbury, who has already given more that £82 million to the University (no connection). And I was beginning to feel rather pleased at the relative meritocracy of the nomination.
But now it looks as if we will have a competition.
From the red corner comes (if he can get enough signatures) is Abdul Arain, who is campaigning on the anti-Sainsbury platform -- in the sense that he wants to keep out a new Sainsbury supermarket from Mill Road and this will give him some much needed publicity. (OK Lord S isn't any longer connected with the company, but he has the same name....)
And from the other red corner, comes the students' favourite Brian Blessed. This is a more puzzling one. I mean, how come the young persons' favourite is someone that most of them couldnt possibly remember (as Fancy Smith in Z-cars... and then as Augustus in I Claudius ..."Is there anyone in Rome who has not slept with my daughter?")? What happened to radical politics eh?
I'm hoping that it will come to a vote. If it does, I shall probably toe the management line, middle-aged trimmer that I am. But a bit of local democracy (and a bit of publicity to the "Keep Supermarkets out of Mill Road" campaign) will be no bad thing.