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Sabbatical Elections 2009: Manifestos

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Mar 06 2009 17:01

Sabbatical Manifestos for the 2009 elections are up! Find out what ideas (if any) they have and what changes you can expect to see (or not) next year...

Click Here for the Full Article

Mar 06 2009 17:35

You're a final year phd student and have been Live! Editor. In short you know what the many important issues pertaining to the Union are.

The fact that all that you promise to do as President is "fix" food and entertainments shows that rather than actually care about the union, you're just interested in cynical electioneering. Worst, it shows intellectual dishonesty because you know the real issues.

Even though neither food nor ents are not that bad lets pretend that they are the most important issues.

1. Why are secret shoppers needed? You can just go and bloody check, or ask any of the many students that attend and enjoy the union every day.

2. Clubs that want to hold bar nights do and clubs that don't... don't. It's got p*** all to do with the President.

3. The only days that entry is charged to the Union is Wednesday and Friday. Are you going to remove this charge? Or are you just vaguely promising to do something you know you won't: remove a small charge that you know is a useful source of revenue for the Union.

You don't have any good ideas, just cynical election promises that are unlikely to be delivered for one reason; they are complete and utter twaddle. Instead of hijacking what are essentially issues for the Deputy Presidents, why don't you come back with a decent manifesto and some real ideas.

Mar 06 2009 18:44

I've identified problems that I believe ONLY the president can deal with (with the support of the relevant sabbs - DPFS for much of this), and put those in as my first two points. My second two points could be achieved by other Deputy Presidents, with the exception of more staff contact time for clubs. The reason for this is that the president has responsibility for the whole union, including such things as staffing (which we can't campaign on) and a position on the trustee board. We actually do representation quite well, thanks to the hard work of our reps. There are problems of course - halls rents are FAR too high, yet we seem unable to do anything about it. But that's an issue which the DPW has to take up with the backing of the President. We have two sabbs looking after that side of things now. Having said that, I've got a good track record of tackling the College on this sort of thing, so I'd go in and fight for it, but that's just the bog standard job of the president - fighting for students.

I also firmly believe that the way to get better student engagement is to get students into Beit, seeing that ICU is great and something to get involved with - I think we do this by providing a good service, where people actively decide to go to the union instead of somewhere else, because it's BETTER.

Lets go through your specific points:

1. Secret shoppers are needed because if you know you're being assessed (because you've seen the President walk in), then you're more likely to up your game. That's how all evaluations work. I would intend to ask students too, but its not sensible for me to be there every minute of every day. At the moment there's not really a way for people to complain if there are problems, which is why better feedback is needed (what happened to the 'Your Say?' forms?). What about the many students that go and enjoy the Queen's Arms, because the food and service is better? The reasons they DON'T visit the union are just as important. They aren't in our bars spending money there, which means we have less to spend on other activities (and they aren't as engaged with the union).

2. I'm not talking about bar nights, I'm talking about proper events, which clubs such as Jazz and Rock and Alternative Music Society have done in the past and continue to do. Live music in dBs, with the support of the union - not just the same DJs all the time. They should receive more support than they do, to get more variety - yes, there are people who enjoy what goes on at the moment (I presume you are among them), but there are also people who want different things. Encouraging a broader variety of ents has everything to do with the president, particularly if clubs feel like they're fighting the union to put them on. The president is ultimately responsible for the structures that run them.

3. When you're charged ?11 to get in on Friday its a bit much for what you get, don't you think? The ?1 charge brings in a small amount of revenue, but that should be recouped by the take in the bar. If you've got a large group it could cost up to ?20 between you to get in - I've certainly been in groups (and spoken to groups) who have gone somewhere else for that reason. If it isn't possible to remove the gate charge (for example if licensing requires it), handing people a drinks voucher is a way to ensure that the revenue is recouped in some way at the bar.

They aren't cynical election promises or electioneering, they're things people have told me over many years they've wanted changing, and I intend to do it.

In fact, if you don't believe the things I intend to 'fix' are broken, then how can it be electioneering? Electioneering would be promising something you know people want but you know you can't deliver on.

Mar 06 2009 18:48

To clarify - that's ?11 on a Friday for some nights, not all nights.

Mar 06 2009 18:59

"Our union should take a stand on political issues"

have you read the constitution? do you know what "ultra vires" means?

Mar 06 2009 19:07

Let's even things up a bit...

1. Ensure maximum Union transparency and accountability through a constantly updated website detailing activities and spending;

What you mean like the Union website? Or how about just let the Union media do their job! Ashley has more experience in ensuring the Union remains transparent than any other person I have ever met. He has exposed things that he believes students should know when the Union tried to keep it quiet. Let's just keep the cat free. The union should take information to the students not expect them to come looking for it!

2. Conduct a survey questioning exactly what YOU want from the Union and deliver upon it;

More surveys! Woo! If you get more than 300-400 people to fill it in you deserve an award. Ridiculous amounts of publicity and money were thrown at the Higher Education Funding Survey and only 500 people filled it in. Are you planning on wasting more of the Union's time, money and resources just to provide another pain in the a**e for students who get surveyed left right and centre as it is!

3. Sort out existing problems with catering and increase food quality;

Granted. But both candidates agree on this point. Surely if one is just electioneering then afonso must be too?

4. Campaign to secure larger prayer spaces.

Already done by this years Sabb team. So what is this doing in your manifesto?

5. Secure funding and plans for Phase 3 (Rebuilding Db?s and DaVinci?s) ensuring your wants are prioritised;

How? What exactly are you going to do about it? This seems like electioneering again without any concrete ideas.

6. Push for GSA interaction with the Union, introducing a pilot PhD mentoring scheme for undergraduates.

More work for PGs? Great! Like they haven't already got so much to do they don't have time to get involved in the Union. So lets try and fix the problem by giving them more stuff to do. Not sure that will work or that you've actually spoken to any Postgraduates as they all hate the idea!

7. Fight to ensure clubs and societies will not suffer any funding cuts.

Electioneering if I have ever seen it!!!!

Mar 06 2009 22:42

How many people know how to format text on Live!? probably two, last year's Editor and this year's Editor...

Mar 07 2009 00:13

And anyone else who reads this link.

Plus it is the same as most other internet forums such as Wikipedia!

Mar 07 2009 03:01

I was really hoping this whole thing was going to be a little bit less vicious, but it was to be expected.

@ post 5:

The first thing: I don't especially like that the term electioneering is being thrown around like a hotcake. If you know both myself and Ashley, you know we both really care about the Union, even if we do have different ideas or ways of doing things or getting things done. There's no real reason for either of us to be running if we didn't care. I for one see absolutely no need for electioneering ??while I do very much want to be elected and know I can do a good job, I do not see a reason to make promises I don't believe in just for the sake of an election. Before deciding to run, I actually went around and spoke to many people to gauge what interests them and they want.

1) You say "The union should take information to the students not expect them to come looking for it!" and that's exactly why I have this point in. With this website, I will be giving complete access to the students.

The student media tends to report on issues that are controversial. Not that there's anything wrong with reporting those issues (in fact they should definitely be reported on), but a lot of things can go unnoticed by the student body if they are not publicised. By making absolutely everything we do easily available to whoever wants to read it, we are disseminating information in an easy and fast way. In this manner, everyone can keep track of all that we are doing whenever they want it. It's putting the Sabbs accountable to their promises and their students.

2) This is a survey that will affect students in a manner that they feel affects them more than being ranked 3rd or 4th in the UK due to satisfaction levels. This time, they have a direct input that they know will be heard by a competent and dedicated president. Money is not what is needed to make a survey work. What is needed is that the students really care about the issues they are being surveyed about, and this is exactly what this survey will be.

3) Clearly not electioneering by either part. This is one of my most heard complaints about the union and thankfully one that can realistically be resolved too.

4) I have no idea if you are religious or use these spaces or not, but I can guarantee you that when speaking to members of societies who do use them, they mention the lack of quality and lack of space a lot more than you'd think. I also mention that this is after proper consultation. But like I said, it is a complain I get a lot, and one I do care about a lot.

5) It's called initiative and I have a bit of that. I know what it takes to get a place assessed, redesigned and rebuilt. This what I intend to do. There are some preliminary plans for Phase 3, but these are not incredibly detailed or developed. There is still plenty of space for letting the students tell us what they want for the redevelopment of their union. I believe I have good ideas of how to obtain the funding for it, and also who could plan, rebuild and redevelop it. Again this obviously ties in closely to point 2.

6) This is a scheme which PhDs can volunteer for. They are not obliged in whatever manner to be participants. We're not giving them more to do as you say. If they choose to take on a mentoree, it is of their own accord and good will. We clearly have spoken to different people because I have spoken to quite a few research students and a majority actually think it's a great idea to get more people into science and research.

7) Considering it is the area of the Union that gives satisfaction to most students, I am not of the opinion that wanting to do something about keeping the funding from decreasing is electioneering. I think what it is, is really is about caring that these activities which form quite an important part of daily activity to many, can keep existing healthily.

Mar 07 2009 04:28

Point 5 was less of a dig at you as a candidate and more of a dig at Point 1 who accused Ahsley of electioneering despite you agreeing on some of the points. I see little reason to accuse candidates of electioneering when both candidates have agreed on the point that was being raised. And I aslo agree with Afonso that the word 'electioneering' is unfair hence my attack of Point 1's tactics in discrediting Ashley.

Thanks to both Ashley and Afonso for answering though. 500, although an increase on previous years, is not enough words to explain methodology behind promises and it is important to work out if candidates are capable of delivering on the things they want to achieve.

I am looking forward to hustings immensely. See you there!

Mar 07 2009 11:40

If the manifesto of a candidate contradicts the Union Constitution, it can always be changed in Council, thus making it constitutional. I'm more concerned with who will look after Student welfare and education if the DPE and DPW will spend their time and money on changing the constitution/political issues. Also how much money will College give for education and welfare the year after when it realises its not being spent on its students...

Mar 07 2009 11:45

We will fight:

against the war on terror and attacks on civil liberties

for the union to support "Unite Against Fascism"

WTF? You're campaigning for DPE...neither of these points relates to Education at Imperial. In fact, by wasting time trying to get this done you'll be spending less time actually working for the benefit of Imperial College students; i.e. doing your actual job...

Mar 07 2009 13:38

It would be interesting to know why the extreme left candidates are so obsessed with Gaza. What is going on in Sudan, Iran and Sri Lanka is far worse but these people choose to focus on a one-sided analysis of a democracy doing its best to defend itself in difficult circumstances.

I would be very disappointed if the sabbatical elections were hijacked by extremists whose ultimate aim is to delegitimise the State of Israel thus bringing the anti-semitism that has been a feature of some University occupations and anti-war demonstrations in the UK to Imperial College.

Leading human rights scholars have identified the denial to Israel of equality before the law in the international arena as a new form of racism. Unless I am mistaken some of the candidates are deliberately singling out the actions of Israel for differential and discriminatory treatment without context or comparision to the actions of other states.

It would make fit in with their main aim of getting the Union to provide funds to Unite Against Fascism which is controlled by the Socialist Worker Party. A very informative exposure of their ambivalence to racism promoted by socialist groups can be found here.

Mar 07 2009 15:58


You are indeed right that I'm running for the position of DPE. Part of the 'actual' constitutional job description specifies the role of 'ehancing the student experience and provision for student development'.

I would argue that whilst the war on terror, erosion of civil liberties and fascist activity aren't seen as issues by all IC students there are certainly many that it effects, both in terms of informing the views of their peers and impacting on how they feel they are perceived. I would also suggest that any open and widespread discussion of such issues could only benefit the development of IC students.


Wow. Firstly I guess I need to ask if you?re accusing me of being an anti-Semitic 'extremist'? It?s a pretty hefty accusation, even if you make it indirectly, and one that is totally unfounded. I thoroughly resent what you seem to be suggesting.

Anyone I have discussed the conflict in Gaza with can tell you that neither race nor religion play a role in the arguments, only the actions of the Israeli State. Nor do I try to 'delegitimize the State of Israel' (if you believe this to be my ultimate aim you're coming across as very narrow minded) or deny it a right to exist, unless questioning its actions and their justifications can be described as such? I feel that Israel's prominence on the international stage and the close political and economic ties it has with the British State justifies the particular attention it receives. Implications that I am 'singling out the actions of Israel for differential and discriminatory treatment' read fairly melodramatically in my opinion.

Permit me to give you a brief lesson on being politically engaged (as opposed to just informed). Alignment with a political group doesn't imply that you share all its views, if you've never noticed back-bench rebellions in the commons or heard a politician condemn the actions of their own party I guess I can see why you're confused on the matter. It doesn't mean that your sole aim is to further their political agenda either, another concept you may well have picked up on in current affairs as a whole. On this matter I would particularly draw your attention to my first bullet point.

With regards union affiliation with 'Unite Against Fascism' and 'Love Music Hate Racism' it doesn't equate to providing funds to them. Have we started funding the campaign for real ale now that we support the campaign to 'axe the beer tax'? Furthermore how could a union that will support campaigns such as this (check the link for details), which though justifiable seems less pressing than fascism and rascism and less relevant to all of Imperial?s non-drinking students, object to such an affiliation?

As your cited article highlights it does seem that anti-racist and anti-fascist movements are dominated by the left and may have their priorities mixed up, so surely increased involvement and input from more mainstream bodies such as Students' Unions could redress this imbalance and stimulate internal debate and reorientation?

At least you have more issues with my politics than my ability to do the job (asking for trouble I know). To quote a student I spoke to recently, I may be a lefty but I?m certainly not a loony and I would ask that you avoid accusing me of bigotry and stereotyping whilst carrying out the acts yourself.

Bit of an essay, for which I apologise, but I felt the points needed answering.

Mar 07 2009 18:48

So I take it you have also been on demonstrations and campaigned about what is going on in Darfur and Sri Lanaka? Otherwise it still begs the question - why do you choose to focus your campaigning on Gaza whilst simultaneously ignoring, for example, the genocide being perpetuated by the Arab government in Sudan.

It smacks of double standards to hold one country to a higher standard than others. To illustrate this I would like to refer you to paragraph 6 of the following Union policy.

I am not accusing you directly of being a bigot but you must be expected to be judged by the company you keep and the political organisation to which you belong has a dodgy history when it comes to cosying up to clerical fascists and failing to condem their lack of concern for womens rights, gay rights and in some cases outright anti-semitism.

It is concerning that you dismiss the racism perpetuated by self-styled "anti-fascists" as being a result of activists having their priorities mixed up. If a candidate stated that he or she believed that some BNP members were actually not racist and just misguided (as you have just done with elements of the hard left) there would be uproar. How can you and your co-campaigners be trusted to run anti racism campaigns when you imply that some forms of racism are somehow less serious than others?

Mar 08 2009 12:24

Does anyone know if there has ever been a "common campaigning platform" for Imperial elections ever before?

Does "Another Union is Possible" truly believe that the interest of Imperial Students lies with politicising our campus? Do they believe that "occupations" of College buildings is appropriate and correct? Perhaps more importantly, do they believe that anyone outside of their narrow band of supporters gives a s**t about what a bunch of angry and uneducated students think about complicated international conflicts?

And lastly, to all Imperial Students - do you really want a Union more committed to fighting Israel than helping you?

Mar 08 2009 12:56

This may be exactly what this union needs, more debate on these important worldwide issues. look how much debate it's causing on this forum. these things need to be discussed in council and in a sort of AGM that "Another Union is Possible" is suggesting instead of pandering to minor unimportant issues that we are concerned with today like drinking fountains for students, student's personal tutors, the number of computers available in the library to students etc?

Mar 08 2009 13:29

Giggles. I'm taking the last comment to be sarcasm.

18. @16&17   
Mar 08 2009 13:39

why should it be sarcasm? and why shouldn't the union deal with both?

19. @ 18   
Mar 08 2009 13:46

It's obviously sarcasm, because no one who has enough intelligence to get into Imperial College would genuinely believe that the Union of Imperial College need to spend more time and energy trying to solve the world's complex political problems and less time serving the needs and desires of the students.

Well, except for Caroline et al of course...

20. @15   
Mar 08 2009 14:15

@15: There was a "common campaigning platform" before, the 'Slate' and

21. @19   
Mar 08 2009 14:24

I get the impression the aim would be to debate the issues more openly and widely within the university, not to solve them. surely having better informed and balanced opinions when leaving Imperial than when starting would be a good thing?

Mar 08 2009 14:47

Come on, we're all intelligent people at Imperial. You're not seriously suggesting that a) the issues are not openly and widely debated or that b) we need the Union sabbs to lead the way on this in order for it to happen.

How about the sabbs focus on helping the students at Imperial have a better time and let the students work out how to organise debates on issues they want to debate. It's worked pretty well up to now.

And besides, debate hardly seems to be all that important to the SWP crowd. From Caroline's manifesto:

"Along with occupations at other universities which have achieved significant demands..."

Not much debate there. Just a bunch of angry and bored students deciding to disrupt university life for everyone else in order to make demands to the university about something that has little or no impact on their lives or the lives of their fellow students.

Give me Sabbs who will work for the benefit of those who elected them over Sabbs who want to turn Imperial College into yet another cliched campus of uninformed kids with over-inflated egos and too much time on their hands.

Mar 08 2009 14:57

If you want to debate esoteric political matters then the Union has several societies that you can join that fulfill these past-times, much in the same way it caters for people who wish to knit or play rugby.

Are you also aware that the 1994 Education Act prohibits Students' Unions from taking positions and dedicating to resources to political campaigns that are not directly relevant to their charitable core purposes ie advancing the educational and social interests of their membership?

If you had bothered to read up on the organisation that you now want to lead you would also know that ICU has provision for general meetings that can be called quite easily if there is an issue of great importance to the student body. All you need is 200 signatures from students and the ICU constitution says that a GM where any student can vote would take place. The reason that every Council meeting is not a General Meeting is because experience has shown elsewhere that such events are poorly attended and end up being hijacked by a vocal minority who wish to advance an extreme agenda. Look at what happened at UCL last year when the Stop the War and Islamic Societies gatecrashed a General Meeting to pass policy that was a one sided version of Israel/Palestine and in the same meeting banned the military from UCLU events which made them look like complete plonkers in the national press. It is a good thing that ICU's democratic structures are set up to prevent against a vocal minority making us look like idiots on the national stage whilst still giving student the opportunity to have a vote on any matter that a sufficient number of students deem important enough.

Mar 08 2009 16:56

Danny once ate an ice cream in wales, but dont let that stop you voting for him, the other guy looks like he does it every weekend.

Mar 08 2009 17:01

Is this a new sab position we have yet to hear about?

May explain why Matthew's campaign is entirely political has nothing to do with educAtion.

Mar 08 2009 17:06

The real question about this rather silly "Another Union is Possible" thing is which of the following will happen first:

1) Some moron will claim that all the people saying how silly they are is proof that they've won some kind of victory or other

2) Some moron will claim that all the people saying how silly they are is part of a concerted Zionist plot

Mar 08 2009 19:00

Is it just me or does the "Another Union is Possible" campaign look almost identical to the "Another Kings is Possible" campaign at KCLU (

The manifestos are almost word for word the same. Sounds like some left wing group is trying to hijack student unions across the country.

Mar 08 2009 19:11

Yes, that's exactly what is happening. They've already got sabbs at ULU and have even taken London Student. They've always been about and sometimes take control of other unions, but the recent situation in Gaza and NUS reforms passing has made them put more effort in - they're fielding more candidates and hope to return to the 'Activism' of the past.

Mar 08 2009 19:30

"Another Union is Possible" is a derivative of the latest Socialist Worker Party front in student politics - the "Another Education is Possible" campaign. They even have a (rather primitive) website.

These people are so off the wall that they seem to consider the NUS to be a right wing organisation! Judging by their placards they also seem to think that there is some link between Gaza and higher education funding. How could we expect to be taken remotely seriously if our sabbs adopted these positions with College or externally?

Do you want someone to dedicated a year improving life for students at Imperial or do you want people who would probably not attend important meetings in order to join their comrades at Kings to occupy rooms and self-indulgently chant "from the river to the Strand, this is Palestinian land?" The choice is ours!

Mar 08 2009 21:29

I do believe an ex-sabb had quite a lot to say about the Another Education is Possible campaign at NUS Conference. Live has the video - it still makes me laugh.

31. me   
Mar 08 2009 23:50

Someone needs to teach Afonso about SMART targets...

Mar 09 2009 00:00

You get to learn all about SMART Targets in Sabb Training.

This is when most people realise they're not going to do anything they said in their manifesto!

Mar 09 2009 00:45

is SMART meant to be an acronym or are you just being cynical?

Mar 09 2009 01:22






Or various different assemblages of words to similar effect.

Mar 09 2009 08:11

and what asshole at the union sits down and tells the sabbaticals that they aren't going to achieve their manifesto point?

sounds like you've pointed out exactly why the union is s**t

36. haha   
Mar 09 2009 09:00

Sounds like an episode out of Yes Minister!

Mar 09 2009 09:54

It's not so much an 'asshole at the union' rather than the newly elected Sabbs actually sitting down and critically analysing their own targets for the first time. It's all very well having 'blue sky' manifestos but experience tells us (and them) that they aren't going to achieve half of what they set out to do.

Only setting out to fix one problem though. That sounds achievable. But is a one point manifesto ever going to win against a load of 'blue sky' tripe?

Mar 09 2009 13:15

SMART targets are well known and not just specific to Sabb training. People who make targets and promises should endure they are specific (ie not just "ensure maximum transparency"

Measurable (ie not just "ensure maximum transparency"

Acheivable ("Ensure maximum Union transparency and accountability through a constantly updated website detailing activities and spending;") - I'm pretty sure there's only so much you're allowed to put on the website...


to a Timescale - say when you are going to do things and how long they will take.

Mar 09 2009 18:33

Alex's manifesto is perfect and the tone is spot on, excatly the sort of person we want to be sending into college meeting to represent us.

Mar 09 2009 19:37

When I decided to run for this position I did so because I felt I could really make positive changes to the union for the benefit of Imperial students, not to further my own political views or as part of some kind of socialist conspiracy to take over the country?s student unions. I?m not a candidate being fielded by anyone and haven?t even been to any ?Another Education is Possible? meetings, just felt they had a catchy name, a good colour scheme and agree with a few of their policies.

I want to represent and work for students to enhance their time here. If they want me to they?ll vote for me and if not they won?t and I will accept that decision, but not the opinions of individuals who take it upon themselves to speak for the student population. If any of my suggested policies are in contravention of the 1994 Education act I would appreciate indication of where within it this is detailed; having read the act it is still unclear to me exactly why they are. If you meant the 1984 act and ultra vires it prohibits unions funding unrelated political groups but not affiliating with them or taking up political positions.

It would indeed be a waste of time for ICU to try and solve the world?s issues. What I feel ICU can productively do is try to avoid Imperial producing ?uninformed kids? by engaging them directly to discuss these issues. I appreciate that there are groups that do provide forums for discussion but in my opinion engagement isn?t a social pass time, its central to our interaction with the society we are a part of and should be encouraged on a larger scale. The mention of occupations is not to encourage them, but to point to a revival of student engagement and participation. Perhaps if students had felt their unions already encouraged dialogue on the issues they occupied over they wouldn?t have done so?

I hope that a line can be drawn under the discussion of anti-Semitism? I have not, do not and will not express nor harbour anti-Semitic sentiments and regard any such accusations as unfounded smears. The argument put forward regarding human rights scholars suggesting denial to Israel of equality before the law is a form of racism interests me greatly and if whoever mentioned it could let me know where to find out more I?d really appreciate it. I agree that denial of equality before the law to any nation would be wrong and if I?ve said anything to the contrary I hadn?t realised and would apologise if it could be highlighted to me.

In all honesty affiliation to ?Unite Against Fascism? (an organisation established to oppose fascist politics, not racism specifically) and ?Love Music Hate Racism? didn?t ever strike me as a contentious issue. I would dispute the suggestion that they are anti-Semitic organisations; both have been active around Holocaust Memorial Day and to cry anti-Semite at an organisation that fails to condemn individual acts and remarks seems excessive. This is not to suggest anti-Semitism is in anyway a lesser evil than other forms of racism, or that it shouldn?t be taken very seriously. The fact is that rightly or wrongly outside of high profile statements made by recognised fundamentalists it is not perceived by most to be as prevalent as Islamophobia or xenophobia more generally. This is what I mean in terms of mixing up priorities, that some forms of racism may wrongly receive more attention than others, not that they are better or worse than others.

Whilst I am in fact in contact with campaigners over Sri Lanka, Sudan et al I do spend more time on the Israel-Palestine conflict for the reasons previously stated, the UKs political and economic ties with Israel. This interest is not a result of anti-Israel sentiment but of sympathy with the people (not parties) of Palestine. Whilst the government has made its views clear on the other situations mentioned I feel that its reaction to this conflict has been unbalanced. This view is, however, fairly irrelevant to the elections as I do not intend to try and force it upon the union, nor did I even mention policies regarding the conflict in my manifesto!

Like I said my aim is to work for the students by using the extra time afforded by a single education sabb position to increase informal contact with the representative system and to build direct contact with grass-roots reps. Adjusting the Unions approach to its role, though an important aim, would of course be secondary to my job as DPE.

41. si   
Mar 09 2009 20:57

when a student union takes a polictical view on any National or International subject it ceases to represent those students with whose views it conflicts.

By limiting the Unions remit to student issues it ensures that for the largest amount of time the largest amount of its members are represented.

Take for example the banning of Military recruiters last year at UCL. Now think how many graduates at Imperial end up working in military fields.

Look to the NUS as a warning as to what can happen when political aspirations overwhelm student representation.

42. @ Matt   
Mar 10 2009 00:39

Your post raises a number of questions.

The first is in response to your claim that you're running on this SWP ticket because it has a catchy name and a good colour scheme. Is this really true? Are you so pathetic that you don't mind aligning yourself with an organisation simply because of their colour scheme? Are you so desperate to win that you will take the support of a group you kind-of agree with on some things but not really on all but whatever, y'know? And what do they think of you now? Do they know that you're trying to use them? Isn't it all rather sordid with you using them and them using you? Why don't you grow the balls to stand on your own like all the other candidates?

I for one don't believe a word of it. Anyone interested can go here: and see what you had to say about yourself. Here is the relevant bit, I think:

"I've...been treasurer and chair for Socialist Workers. I?ve also been involved in Stop the War, attended many PPS events and helped with Gaza Awareness Week. Outside Imperial I campaign with the national anti-war movement and against university marketisation and top-up fees."

So you'll forgive me for thinking that you're a lying bastard when you try to make out that you're not part of some wider SWP plan to take over the unions. Seems to me that either you're the kind of person who is willing to exploit an organisation for personal power, or your morals are so loose that you'll jump on any bandwagon to win yourself personal power, or (the one I think more likely) you're the kind of person who is prepared to lie and mislead to win yourself personal power. Which is it?

Another question is about your plan to "engage" students and prevent Imperial students leaving as "uninformed kids". Besides the insult to your electorate of labelling us all as ignorant, why do you think that it requires the Union to "engage" us students in order for us to become informed? Don't the PPS, SWSS, StW, ISoc etc do a lot of work in hosting debates and events that "inform" us of the Israel/Palestinian conflict? And what, exactly, will you have the Union do in this regard to make us more informed? And please tell me you're not seriously deluded enough to believe that the "occupation" of various university buildings up and down the country is because of lack of available debate and dialogue. If there was a pound for every word spoken and written on this wretched Israeli Arab conflict we'd probably have more than enough to bail out every bank in the UK and provide free education to all (well, except the horrid rich kids :P )

And finally, since the whole anti-Semitism thing has raised its head again, there are only two simple questions:

1) Do you believe in the right of Jews to self-determination (ie are you a Zionist?) or do they not have that right (ie are you a racist?)? and

2) Do Jewish people have the right to defend themselves from attacks (ie you support, in principle at least, the attack on Hamas in Gaza) or do they not have that right (ie you oppose in principle that attack and you're a racist)?

So a few points for you to ponder. And maybe some of your fellow travellers might pop-along too to discuss some of these issues.

Mar 10 2009 00:56

Your questions on anti-semitism were only simple intellectually. Your questions are misleading and provide false choices; you are not a racist if you don't support Zionism. Again in your second question you have provided false choices; opposition to the conflict in Gaza does not mean that you reject the ISRAELI people's right to defend themselves and again is doesn't mean that you are a racist.

While I commend your invitation for Matt's fellow travelers to "pop-along", please take your flame-baiting and general ignorance elsewhere i.e. "pop-off"

"Perhaps if students had felt their unions already encouraged dialogue on the issues they occupied over they wouldn?t have done so"

So you are saying that Imperial Union does provide a good platform for dialogue and that's why there was no "occupation" at Imperial.

As post41 said, if you intend to work for the union next year you need to be dedicated to all students from across the political spectrum and not your own socialist agenda (and don't pretend that isn't your plan). I for one will not be voting for you and your ilk for that very reason just as I wouldn't vote for a fascist candidate and will encourage others to do the same.

Mar 10 2009 01:17

On the issue of the Socialist Workers Party and their attitude towards antisemitism, the following article in the Guardian may be of interest.

46. @43   
Mar 10 2009 06:56

While I don't think anyone wants this discussion to descend into one about Zionism I will just quickly defend myself against your accusation. For one thing it is patently ludicrous to accuse me of flame-baiting for the two questions at the end of my post while completely ignoring the rest of it.

It's also quite interesting that your argument is to simply state that I'm wrong. For instance "you are not a racist if you don't support Zionism". I don't know how things work where you come from, but traditionally one is expected to put forward an argument as well as the assertion.

Just quickly then, since Zionism is nothing other than Jewish nationalism the only way one could oppose Zionism without being racist is by simultaneously opposing all nationalism movements including Palestinian nationalism. I concede, then, that the question was slightly simplistic in that this last option was not provided, but this is justified given the position of the SWP on this issue and its apparent support for Palestinian nationalism. Still, Matt et al would do well to explain their position. (They might, if they choose to, define Zionism in some unusual way but then that would just be silly, wouldn't it?). And moreover, even if some other possibility exists whereby one can be against Jewish nationalism while supporting other nationalist movements and yet still not be racist it cannot be denied that a large number of people who oppose Jewish nationalism are racist. As such, I would still argue that we have a right to know what Matt's view is on this topic and why he holds it. We wouldn't want to accidentally elect a racist to the Union would we?

On the second point, again you simply state your assertion as a fact without argument. If you support the Israeli people's right to defend themselves then that means that you, in principle, must support them when they act on that right. Since the attack on Hamas in Gaza was quite clearly an act of self defence on behalf of the Israeli people then one must support it in principle even if one feels that its implementation was grossly wrong. Thus, for example, had Israel in that attack managed to kill only rocket firing terrorists one could not utter a word of condemnation, right? The condemnation could only be for the implementation not the principle. The only alternative is to somehow deny the Jewish people of Israel the right to attack those who fire rockets at them and since one wouldn't deny this right to anyone else, it is fair to say that that makes one a racist.

Perhaps you just misread or misunderstood some of these points as I didn't really make a big deal out of them. But now, having seen the arguments underpinning them, I hope you will accept that there is no attempt to mislead, certainly no attempt to flame-bait and no "general ignorance". I accept your apologies in advance and look forward to Matt' carefully considered response. :)

47. @46   
Mar 10 2009 08:12

It's very peculiar that you see the need to defend 'yourself' when you are posting anonymously... Often, an argument is made so weakly that a counter-assertion is all that is needed, this is such a situation. In any case, you have conceded that your questions were simplistic to the point of stupidity and thus I consider the discussion ended.

48. LOL   
Mar 10 2009 08:47

Perhaps I should have said that I was defending my opinion rather than myself. Frankly, what you said is a pathetic joke. No argument is ever sufficiently refuted with a counter-assertion. Why would it ever be? You cannot ever seriously hope to win a debate simply by asserting the opposite unless you're out of a Monty Python sketch.

If the argument is extremely weak that only makes refutation easier, it can never make it unnecessary. But then since you've decided to twist my words and add some of your own to them in order to help you "win" I guess logic ain't your strong suite.

Anyway, since this now has kind of descended into the flaming you evidently desired I guess I should stop. I do hope that Matt at least has the moral fibre to respond to ALL the questions posed in my first post and not to simply dismiss them with a counter-assertion.

Have a good day

Mar 10 2009 09:46

Clearly we're all a little a bit anti having a DPE who runs with a politcal manifesto, its ridiculus, you shouldn't do it, it won't work.

What about DPW, are we willing to accept the same manifesto, the same political intentions there? Probably not...

However John James is clearly just after a Sabb position, any Sabb position will do and Welfare is the least contested. Not a great reason to run.

Just vote RON for DPW.

Mar 10 2009 09:48

Is this the kind of thing we are going to discuss in Council next year?

51. @ 49   
Mar 10 2009 14:12

Should have waited till hustings.

John James had me and the rest of the room convinced.

Sorry RON. Better luck next year...

52. @ 49   
Mar 10 2009 14:15

If you went to hustings today, you'd have seen there's only one person for DPW. So what if he went for the least contested position? He's the best for the job by far...

53. @ 49   
Mar 10 2009 14:18

John James got the biggest cheer and the most people to listen at hustings today.

54. deaf   
Mar 10 2009 15:34

If you elect a sabb who won't shout at hustings, you can't expect them to be any good at shouting in office, which is what they're meant to do...

Mar 10 2009 15:44

just a quicky as I'm only on for a moment, yes I am involved in SWSS and yes I've been on an 'Another Education is Possible' protest. I'm trying to make the point that I'm not an SWP puppet with the sole aim of doing what they say or would want (something of an insult to my intelligence) and I'm not actually involved with the 'Another Education is Possible' organisation (which, incidentally, though instigated by the SWP was built from the beginning to be as broad-based as possible). I feel that calling me a 'lying bstrd' that is denying a socialist conspiracy off the back of these associations smacks of paranoia, as does the suggestion that I'm in the election for personal power as there would be more obvious positions to run for if that were my aim.

I'll get back to you on the other points shortly.

Mar 10 2009 16:15

...You said earlier

"I...haven?t even been to any ?Another Education is Possible? meetings"

and now

"I've been on an 'Another Education is Possible' protest"

Just a hunch, but I believe that a meeting isn't the same thing as a protest. Which might be why there are different words for them in the English language.

Mar 10 2009 16:45

Yes of course a meeting isn't the same as a protest (though I dare say you meet a fair few people at a protest, or at least one or two). But the point is rather more that Matt wasn't being exactly forthcoming. Call me a pedant but I'm fairly sure his first statement on this was designed to give us all the impression that he really has very little to do with the SWP. That turns out to be a bit misleading as he is, in fact, heavily involved with them.

All this and yet in his/the SWP manifesto it states:

"We will do our best to increase union transparency"

59. labbit   
Mar 10 2009 21:59

If SWP take over Council


Mar 11 2009 00:26

Afonso seems good at making a good first impression...

That is all I will say.

Mar 11 2009 09:24

Having looked through Matt's manifesto I can see no reference to denying the right of self determination of the Jewish people (or any other people for that matter).

Anyone should be able to be critical of a State action, including one of the Israeli state, without being branded a racist. I would find it a deeply worry if critical analysis of a State was prohibited on these grounds. I imagine anyone with a family background that has faced State oppression in the past would recoil at such a notion, as would anyone with some sense.

It also seems to me that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is of relevance to IC Union, since one IC student was almost prevented from attending IC and has now had his studies delayed by a year as a result of the blockade/ recent attack. The right of all IC students to education, to my mind at least, falls well within the remit Dept Education, making this a relevant issue (that everyone else seems to have forgotten about). Of course this means that same applies to any student from anywhere else (I would hope Matt, if elected, would see it that way).

Further, this is a concrete issue that students can be positively involved with. One example is that the LSE Union (and the Unions of many other uni?s) has got the LSE to supply unwanted books and computers to the Gaza uni?s that have massively undermined by the recent attacks. This can only be a positive thing and anyone truly sincere about promoting education (and achieving a realistic peace in the Middle East, for that matter) ought to support these actions. If similarly positive campaigns could work to help other troubled regions then I would support them too.

Finally, I find this incredible limited notion of what ?affects us as students? frustrating. Global warming does really directly affect us as students in this limited sense, but I think we are absolutely right to have Union which challenges College to be greener.

Mar 11 2009 10:23

then i could shake his hand and say "thank you sir"

Mar 11 2009 12:09

okay, enough bickering I am not sure how this descended into a campaign about zionism and racism, there are more important issues here.

i.e. did anyone else notice that Fonzie really isnt that much shorter than Ashley. Undermines his whole 'little guy' campaign!

64. @62   
Mar 11 2009 13:54

How do you know the author of post 61 is a man?


65. OMG   
Mar 11 2009 15:43

The biggest news just broke. I'm going to be the first one to say farce. A one horse race.

66. I know   
Mar 11 2009 15:59

Big news indeed, I'm surprised it's not on here yet...

Mar 11 2009 16:06

Who dropped out?

Mar 11 2009 16:40

Give me five seconds i had to wait for the Returning Officer to confirm.

Mar 11 2009 16:44






70. RON?   
Mar 11 2009 17:44

Where's RONs Manifesto?

71. Editor   
Mar 11 2009 17:54

Coming shortly. RON didn't actually submit his manifesto to the Editor's Account.

72. @61   
Mar 12 2009 12:03

The issue here is not direct racism - it is far more subtle than that. Criticism of the State of Israel is occasionally justified as it is for other states. The problem with Matt and the rest of the Socialist Worker slate is that they fail to ackowledge that the left's repeated and sustained attacks on Israel and the specific targeting of Israeli actions WHATEVER they are currently add up to a socially acceptable form of anti-semitism. What else would motivate them to devote so much time and effort to it?

These so called progressives are so blinkered. Remember, during Israel's defensive action against terrorists in Lebannon the Socialist Workers were carrying placards reading "We are all Hezbollah Now". Their hatred or the Jewish state is such that they will publicly endorse a genocidal organisation that oppresses women and gays. Even the lefts commitment to equality can be put to one side if it is all in the name of deligitimising Israel. It would be a disaster to have our Union promoting this sort of extremism and bigotry.

73. @72   
Mar 17 2009 10:21

Criticism of the State of Israel, matter how consistent it may be, does not equal anti-semitism. It is a criticism of the political and strategic policies of the State of Israel. The fact that these criticisms have been so consistently made for such a long time simply reflects the fact that since its inception Israeli policy has been dominated by colonialism, the displacement of individuals, families and even whole communities, the dispossession of land and, most notably, war. This has recently culminated in the brutal attack on Gaza, a principally young population confined to an area comparable to that of Birmingham, which left some 1,300 Palestinians dead. If any other annexed metropolitan centre in the world was treated to such brutality there would have been outcry from the international community. Even before this incursion the ongoing Israeli blockade had all but destroyed Gaza?s basic infrastructure, industry and social services, leaving, for example, over 1.1 million dependent on food aid, a large portion of the population without access to running water and hospitals experiencing 12 hour blackouts. This situation, even prior to the latest attack, was condemned by numerous aid agencies, including, amongst others, Amnesty International, Oxfam and Save the Children, as a man made (and entirely avoidable, with the appropriate political pressure) humanitarian disaster resulting from the collective punishment of the Gazan population, which they claim constitutes a war crime under the Geneva conventions.

The majority of people have recently shown their support for the Palestinian people in the latest act of barbarity from Israel and the US. 100,000 marched in London and millions have organised solidarity action and donated to the various emergency appeals for Gaza (and expressed outrage at the BBC's refusal to broadcast them).

This domestic public support is particularly relevant and important given the UK?s reluctance to take a principled stance on the matter. It is telling that while Hamas, the democratically elected Palestinian government, are delegitimized by the UK/US/Israel for their refusal to recognise the state of Israel, Saudi Arabia, an incredibly draconian society that doesn?t recognise the State of Israel either is welcomed with open arms during state visits and is key Western ally in the Middle East. This seriously brings into question the West?s support for Israel as anything to do with the welfare and self-determination of Jewish people, concepts we can all support, and exposes it as much more to do with their own economic/strategic interests (an idea historically supported by the fact that during the formation of Israel it was openly discussed by the UK/US leadership as an imperialist project and a large proportion of Jewish migration to Israel resulted from the anti-semitic immigration policies maintained by the UK and US at the time, which refused many Jews entry and directed them to Israel instead).

Recently we have witnessed the occupation of many universities by students in solidarity with Gaza, winning real and concrete gains - scholarships for Palestinian students, medical and educational aid to Palestine, official university collections, etc. People who believe in justice and equality and are prepared to fight for it to deliver tangible benefits to fellow students and fellow people in this way are EXACTLY the sort of people we want in our students' union. These are the people who will most successfully fight on all fronts, on the big and small questions and ensure we have a progressive, forward looking, active, campaigning union, which, after all, is what it is there for.

74. Pffft   
Mar 17 2009 11:42

The issue here is sabbatical elections so please stfu.


Mar 17 2009 13:59

I can't be the only one horribly concerned by this. All this argument has shown that if people get elected on political platforms, then the whole year will be spent getting nothing done and squabbling over various papers at council that serve no benefit to the student community.

I for one will not be represented by someone who will be campaigning for unrelated political views I either do not agree with or wish to stay neutral in; it means I would be tainted by association. I would give serious consideration to resigning my union membership in accordance with Ed Act '94 (I believe) should it get to that state...

76. RON   
Mar 17 2009 16:50


You know he's the best candidate

Mar 17 2009 17:06

Is it wrong that the "bring student satisfaction back" sounds like it should be a much dirtier campaign than it is?

I keep half expecting to see the posters written on the backdrop of a rampant rabbit sillhouette...

Mar 18 2009 00:56


Not that kind of satisfaction. At Imperial, that's just not possible!

I can say that now. Voting's closed. Muhaha.

Mar 18 2009 10:25

Personally I think you have got things exactly backwards. Having students who are passionate and genuinely prepared to really fight for the things, both big and small, that actually matter to students is precisely what we need. Aside from the quality of our clubs & societies, which is really down to the student body not the council, our union falls far short of many others unions that engage with far more real world issues. In fact, I would say that the only Sab that has really made any sort of real difference over recent years has been Hannah Theodorou who has always been committed to and motivated by green issues. You may argue that she has been wasting her/your time because of her dedication to campaigns that go beyond your limited concept of what matters to students, but I think you are wrong.

Mar 18 2009 14:08

@79: You make a fundamental error in referring to students as a homogeneous body ("fight for the things ... that actually matter to students"). Don't assume that the things that matter to you, matter to ALL students. The reason the union as a whole does not take a stance on many issues that apparently matter to 'students', is that they don't matter to ALL students. The recent paper brought to Council on Gaza, for example, was never going to pass - for every student who cares passionately about that issue, I could probably find you one who has the opposite view, and one that didn't care much at all.

This is why we have clubs and societies - so those people who want to get involved in activity can do so, while the central union remains neutral on non-student issues so as to provide an inclusive organisation for EVERYONE. Students are a terrifyingly diverse group, and it's quite right that we avoid taking a stance on these controversial issues that DON'T affect our students as students.

Clubs can, within reason, take action on these issues, by involving those students that care about them.

Mar 18 2009 17:23

If that's true then the motion to support the "Axe the Beer Tax" campaign shouldn't have gone through. Many students at Imperial don't drink, so this issue does not affect ALL students.

Don't try to pretend the Council represents all students at Imperial, when most council members just represent their own interests.

Mar 18 2009 17:50

Axe the Beer Tax: it does affect ICU's trading outlets and the profitability (or not) of the organisation as a whole. Higher tax = less drinking = less money to refurbish the bars. It doesn't affect ALL students directly, but it does affect the organisation as an entity in itself.

If Council doesn't represent all students at Imperial, what right does it have to pass political motions on behalf of its students?

Mar 18 2009 18:18

Good point.

Hope you win!

Mar 19 2009 09:52

You really have some very strange ideas about the concept of representation. Issues affecting the minority cannot be ignored because they don't apply to the majority (let alone the entire population, as you would have it). Troubling indeed.

Mar 19 2009 10:15

There's a difference between campaigning on issues affecting the minority when it affects their education and welfare within the college (e.g. pushing college for larger prayer spaces), and making overt political statements claiming to be from the whole student body, based on the opinions of the minority - particularly when another minority may feel that doing so would affect their welfare.

That you seem to think the two are one and the same is troubling indeed.

If you're going to criticise me, at least identify yourself so we can discuss it face to face should I see you around the place, rather than just hiding behind a pseudonym (or using @Ashley).

86. @82   
Mar 19 2009 10:19

That is exactly my point. Council shouldn't have the right to pass ANY policy without consulting the student body far more than they do now. Policy should be decided in general meetings where everyone can vote, this is the only way decisions can be made democratically. The success of the Another Union Is Possible campaign, who got a large proportion of votes, shows that there are hundreds of students at IC who are interested in these issues and want a more democratic union. I'm sure they'll come back even stronger next year.

Mar 19 2009 10:40

General Meetings don't allow everyone to turn up, especially in a multi-campus university. If you hold it at South Ken you exclude a load of medical students, if you hold it at lunch time you exclude those doing humanities. If you do it in the evening you exclude those doing club activities (orchestra rehearsals etc). GMs allow groups with a vested interest in the paper being passed to turn up en-masse to get it through. You can't fit 13,000 students into any of our rooms, and there would be a huge swathe of students who you couldn't ask because they wouldn't fit in the room or wouldn't/couldn't come.

"The success of the Another Union Is Possible campaign". OK.

Mar 19 2009 10:59

If you look at the structure of Bristol uni union for example you'll see they have and annual AGM every year where all students can attend and vote, this to me sounds what Another Union is Possible was talking about. Now on the whole that sounds very fair, students get the day off lectures to go to the AGM, but most use it to work or socialise instead. These AGMs run for hours (a good chunk of which is used to argue about whether the meeting is quorum or not as people keep arriving and leaving). Furthermore due to little intrest its not hard for a minority to rally itself and turn up and get its papers passed. The current system in Imperial is much better, I think, a GM can occur if enough people care (meaning they will turn up). And furthermore getting a day off sounds very dubious to me: I'm not paying my tuition fees to get days off, I can do that at home for free!

Mar 19 2009 11:31

For the dangers of GMs we need look no further than UCL. They managed to make fools of themselves and the entire student body by banning the Armed Forces from campus in one of their GMs. A whopping 89 people voted for that and it passed making all 21,500 students look silly.

And then we can look at the more sinister side of GMs by looking at UCL. At their AGM this year they had a number of motions about Israel and conveniently scheduled the meeting for late Friday afternoon thus ensuring that a large proportion of the Jewish student body couldn't attend the meeting (the motions passed).

How about we let the Union carry on as it is now and let the SWP continue handing out leaflets on the walkway...

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