Beer, jeers and cheers for Boris
MAVERICK Tory MP Boris Johnson was drenched in beer when protesters hijacked the launch of his campaign to become rector of Edinburgh University.
The MP for Henley on Thames was mobbed by a group of placard-wielding students angry at his stance on tuition fees. The former Spectator editor was giving his first speech at the Centro Bar in the university's Pollock Halls when a student approached and threw a pint over him. The protester asked to take a photograph and, once close, showered the 41-year-old with beer.
Mr Johnson, who flew into Edinburgh last night, took the drenching in good spirits. "It would be fair to say the people against me were in the minority but they made a lot of noise that went on a long time," he said.
"I tried to make a speech but I couldn't hear anything because of the noise. At the end, someone very kindly poured a pint of beer over my head.
"I am most grateful because it was the first of many drinks I received one way or the other over the evening."
He toured student pubs throughout the New Town later before returning to Pollock Halls to spend the night. Supporters estimated a crowd of 600 turned up for the shadow higher education minister's first appearance in the Capital.
Some were wearing "I love Boris" badges whilst protesters brandished signs saying "New Tories - Yeah Right" and "Bog Off Top-Up Tory".
The MP was sneaked in the back entrance to the bar to avoid members of the Student Association, who were waving anti top-up fee banners at the main door.
Student leader Ruth Cameron said: "A group of about 20 Young Socialists started lobbing beer at him.
"He got a pint fully over his head and plenty more lobbed in his direction ... Half the room were booing him."
The president of the Student Association, who is supporting MSP Mark Ballard's election for rector, said Mr Johnson had taken it with good humour.
"He was good natured and stuck around for about 20 minutes answering questions," she said. The MP went on to visit student haunts The Crags, The Privy Council, Po Na Na and the Opal Lounge in the New Town.
Alastair Leggate, head of his campaign for rector, said Mr Johnson had come to learn about student issues and was not phased by the beer incident.
He said: "His suit got messed up and so did his his hair but he just kept on going. He took it all in his stride."
Mr Leggate said the MP had been "overwhelmed" by his reception with people "scrambling" to get hold of campaign badges.
The MP stayed the night in a basic room at Lee House in the Holyrood Park student residences near the Commonwealth Pool.
"He was doing it to find out about student life," said Mr Leggat
"He didn't even have an en suite, so we'll see how he got on," said Mr Leggat. Award-winning documentary maker John Pilger and former Scottish Arts Council chairman Magnus Linklater are also in the battle to succeed former Linlithgow MP Tam Dalyell.
Students are set to vote in the new rector online on February 15 and 16.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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