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Friday, November 26, 2010

Latner disqualified from Cambridge Union election

From Varsity, yesterday:

Initially, you had indicated that you were not planning to apologise to Lauren Booth. What made you change your mind?
I said I was sorry for "speaking in haste and choosing my words poorly". It's true. I am sorry about that. The minute I said it, I thought of a dozen funnier, less vulgar comments I could have made instead. Hindsight's 20/20.
What is your reaction to the Appeals Panel's decision to impose a penalty of a 40 per cent reduction of your first preference votes? Do you see it as a fair penalty?
My reactions were, in chronological order: surprise, befuddlement, amusement, hysterical laughter, and  contacting every single reporter and blogger who has been in touch with me over the last month. Was it fair? No. I may be biased, but I'm around 99% sure that this penalty reflects who I am, not what I did. As I said, I don't really think the Rules were intended to prohibit what I did, and if they were, there was discretion to impose a) no penalty, b) a far less severe penalty that wouldn't have the effect of rigging the election.
Why have you agreed to this interview, given that it could lead to further penalties imposed on you as a candidate?
I think it's important that people know what's going on – same reason I spoke with the Tab.  As to the possibility of further penalties – it would kind of be like sentencing someone serving a life sentence to another 100 years in jail. I wasn't ever going to win this election. Anything else they throw at me now will just make them look kind of silly.  Plus, I don't think I'm breaking any of the rules – I'm not soliciting votes, or talking about my campaign. I'm talking about what I see as a fairly ridiculous disciplinary hearing, and the resulting punishment. While there is a certain cadre of people currently running the Union may not like that, I don't think they can do much. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
And today:
Gabriel Latner has been disqualified from the election for the Union presidency, after Returning Officers found that he had given an interview to Varsity, in contravention of election rules.
Latner had previously been penalised 40 per cent of his first preference votesfor commenting for an article by The Tab.
In a statement, the Union Returning Officers said: "Due to the fact that this is second time that Mr. Latner had been found guilty of such an offence and that, in this case, the article was much more focused on the Candidate’s own quotes, the Returning Officers have resolved to disqualify Mr. Latner from the current election."