The head porter of Oriel College, Oxford, has resigned in order to stand as a UKIP candidate in the 2015 general election.
Mr Kenrick ‘Dickie’ Bird, who has worked at Oriel for over three years, stood down as head porter in early October in order to dedicate his time to politics. He aims to stand as the UKIP candidate for the North Oxfordshire seat of Banbury, a traditionally Conservative seat, which is situated next to the Prime Minister’s constituency of Witney.
Mr Bird represented UKIP back in May, when he ran to become the councillor for the Blackbird Leys ward in the Oxford City Council elections. He finished second with 20% of the vote.
At the last general election in 2010, UKIP’s candidate for Banbury secured just 5% of the vote.
However, UKIP recently gained its first MP in the Clacton-on-Sea by-election, and came a close second behind Labour in Heywood and Middleton. UKIP leader Nigel Farage declared after the by-election that there was “no such thing as a safe seat.”
Mr Bird was in the Royal Green Jackets for 30 years before joining Oriel and he saw active service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo. He also was part of many United Nations missions.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Mr Bird described his job at Oriel as "incredibly enlightening and enjoyable" but that his “passion for change” meant he must devote his time fully to winning the Banbury seat.
Mr Bird’s decision to stand as a UKIP candidate was met with mixed emotions by Oxford students.
A second year English student at Oxford commented: “Of course this news is interesting and quite surprising given the political viewpoints of a lot of people associated with Oxford…but as far as I can tell he's not using his affiliation with the university in any way in his capacity as a politician, so I don't personally think it's wholly fair to conflate his new career with a 'message' being sent by the university.”
One student at Oriel told TCS: "Obviously with UKIP's controversial policies concerning immigration and the EU, Dicky's move isn't the best news I've heard all year. He's a big character and was a big presence around Oriel, good luck to him, I guess.”