News Editor Sam Light reflects on the controversial election of Charles Amos as KCLCA president and his subsequent removal from office.
It was hard to tell whether the attention surrounding Charles Amos was ever about politics, or whether it was all about the man himself.
At first glance, Amos was difficult to take seriously. Emerging up into frame to speak sternly over what sounded like the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, his campaign video never really existed as anything other than a meme.
The last decade of politics has become increasingly dominated by spectacle and personality, which leaves policy and serious debate as an afterthought. The saga of this year’s KCL Conservative Association elections brought this type of politics to King’s. After some internal turmoil and a large amount of outside pressure, the KCLCA passed a vote of no-confidence against Amos; a move which almost certainly served the best interests of the society and, I think, preserved the wider health of student politics at King’s.
Amos was removed as president of the KCLCA over a month ago and has since been replaced by Anastasiia Katona. However, despite only having been president for a matter of weeks he has left a stain on conservative politics at this university. A petition is still live which calls for the entire society to be de-ratified.
While funny, a man who holds every possible “controversial” opinion lingering to the right of the political centre is a man to be careful of. In my eyes, this applies regardless of where you stand politically. Charles Amos has “hot-takes” on everything from feminism through to taxation and the Coronavirus. The article written in opposition to a smoking ban introduced over a decade prior is, in my view, a prime example of his ability to resurrect long-dormant topics of political debate in order to garner attention.
Following the Twitter storm which surrounded his election, Amos’ statement seemed to welcome the drama which followed him. The ridicule directed at Amos and the Association he now represented was just “water off a duck’s back”. The impeached president seemed content that his campaign video had over 100,000 Facebook views. Even when what followed were accusations of racism and misogyny that tarnished his party’s reputation, all that mattered was keeping people talking.
It is easy to get the impression that Amos has less allegiance to the principles of “liberty” or “conservativism” than he does to the statement “all press is good press”. The young Tory counsellor received a lot of backlash from the Association he was elected to represent for saying “I’m not passionate about the Conservative Party, I simply see it as the most effective vehicle to realise the ends of liberty.” I question this sentiment. Does Amos see the Conservative Party as a vehicle to the ends of liberty, or as a vehicle to further his political career?
We should guard against careerism and those who drum up political controversy for their own advantage. For me, this applies regardless of whether you vote Labour or Conservative. The KCLCA did the right thing by removing Amos from the presidency. They should be careful not to be sucked in by the attention which comes with drama and press coverage the next time around.