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NUS: ICU Becomes Political Toy

Mar 06 2007 01:18
Ashley Brown
ICU appears to have become a political toy in the NUS, with at least one candidate for re-election claiming "Imperial College in Membership" as one of his achievements.
Campaign for re-election: snagging Imperial is a big achievement

With conference delegates now elected - and the main Anti-NUS campaigner achieving 100 more votes than the nearest competitor - ICU is gearing up for its first NUS conference at the end of the month. One of the duties there will be to elect new members of the national executive committee, including the positions of President, VP Education, VP Welfare, National Treasurer and National Secretary.

Imperial seems to have had an impact on this year's holders of some of those positions, with John Collins giving his support to the incumbents for their re-election. Gemma Tumelty, Wes Streeting and Stephen Brown (the NUS one, not our raving Scot) all mention the ICU President in their list of supporters.

Proving Imperial's membership is a political bonus, Stephen Brown uses it several times: not only is "John Collins Pres Imperial" mentioned as a supporter, but he uses a photo of himself with a penguin by 'Yes to NUS' signs. The list of things he has "promised and delivered" this year also includes "Imperial College in Membership".

When challenged about his support for the incumbent holders of these positions, Mr Collins indicated that they were the people pushing for reform so ICU should lend its support. Looking at the manifestos he is probably right, but why are two year sabbaticals bad for ICU but good for the NUS?

Manifestos

We have carefully removed manifestos for the 'key' positions in the NUS from the 88 page, 52MB manifestos document and presented them below. You will find a selection of "activism", "education not war", "education not for sale", "solidarity" and various sabbatical officers from unions around the country slapping the candidates on the back and saying "well done old chap".

Imperial students do not get to vote directly, but there is still time to have your voice heard. The President may not have consulted with Council or the student body before putting his support behind candidates, but there are eight NUS delegates who have pledged to follow the wishes of Imperial students when voting. Given the choices, many may conclude that Mr Collins is spot on with where he gives his support.

A few abbreviations you may need:

  • ENS: Education Not for Sale, describe themselves as "radical anti-capitalist activists", opposed to fees and in favour of grants for all
  • SBL: Student Broad Left, standing for "No to Bush's war drive; Fight racism, stop the BNP; For free education; No to NUS Xtra; For international justice and solidarity"

WARNING: The manifestos available for download contain graphic scenes of student activism and extreme left-wing propaganda materials.

NUS President

  • Sofie Buckland (ENS)
  • Rob Owen (Respect)
  • Gemma Tumelty (Incumbent, Supported by John Collins)
 

NUS Vice President Education

  • Dan Glass (ENS)
  • Wes Streeting (Labour, Incumbent, Supported by John Collins)
  • George Woods (SBL)
 
Complete betrayal, given that he led the Exec which initiated the boycott
CUSU Democracy Officer Jacob Bard-Rosenberg

Of particular interest is that Mr Streeting was recently criticised by his former union at Cambridge for attacking their boycott of the National Student Survey. Streeting himself set up the boycott when he was President, but told Cambridge's Varsity that recent changes to the survey have made it more applicable to the university.

 

NUS Vice President Welfare

  • Richard Angell (Labour)
  • Daniel Randall (ENS)
  • Clare Solomon (Respect)
  • Ama Uzowuru
 

NUS National Treasurer

  • Dave Lewis
  • Sam Rozati (Students First)
  • Hannah Tweddell (SBL)
 

NUS National Secretary

  • Assed Baig (Respect)
  • Stephen Brown (Incumbent, Supported by John Collins)
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Discussion about “NUS: ICU Becomes Political Toy”

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.
1. Simon   
Mar 06 2007 01:51
 

Stephen Brown....... *scratches head*....... how confusing!

Respect, ENS, and SBL look like a right bunch of left wing fanatics the lot of em.... which makes JC's picks look reasonable.

Some snippets from the Pres's Manifestos:

Sofie Buckland (ENS)

  • student and worker's unity, unconditional support for workers in struggle everywhere
  • international solidarity
  • universal living wage for all workers

Rob Owen (Respect)

  • Affiliate NUS to "Stop the War Coalition"
  • increase size of national conference
  • free university education for all

Gemma Tumelty (Incumbent, Supported by John Collins)

  • increase Financial accountability of the NUS
  • cut back on waste and bureaucracy
  • invest in research to win debate on commercial rates on student loans.

So we have 1 communist extremist, 1 Respect/Socialist Worker extremist, both of which spend half or more of their manifesto rabbiting on about issues not related to students, then a reasonable and proven candidate who only mentions things that add value to the NUS and its members.

Hey, i'm an A-NUS supporter, and even i can tell who is the best candidate of the 3!

2. Simon   
Mar 06 2007 03:54
 

Oh, and the URLs for the last 3 sets of Manifestos are wrong, they ALL link to the VP Education one.

Mar 06 2007 08:14
 

Try now ... I think Live! gets grumpy at night.

4. Seb   
Mar 06 2007 09:12
 

Can't we... RON them or something?

Mar 06 2007 09:17
 

In all three cases it is not difficult to tell who the "best" is but that is more an indication of how bad the other candidates are. It is ridiculous to think that we should be somehow pleased as we are joining the NUS to only have the choice between a left-wing candidate, a loony-left candidate and a communist.

Lets not forget that those candidates our President has pledged his support to fully sign up to the insidious, politically correct tripe that pervades the NUS despite how reasonable they may appear compared to their competitors.

Mar 06 2007 09:40
 

I agree Seb, I hope that some of our delegates choose to abstain in these elections just to show Gemma and her chums that they will not be entitled to votes from those with no-where else to go.

Mar 06 2007 10:49
 

personally, I'm hoping for a new sabb team with the balls to call a new referendum, now that so many of the problems with affiliation that were raised during the referendum are now coming to pass. did all the students who voted yes honestly think that ICUs delegates are going to be able to make a difference?

Mar 06 2007 11:24
 

Snippet from hustings if you missed it:

"Presedential Candidates, would you hold an NUS disaffiliation referendum?

Steve Brown - No, lets give it a few years and see what happens...

Jon Matthews - No

Diogo Geraldes - No

Sophie Spillard (played by Rosie Smithells) - No

Julian Gianuzzi - Yes"

Still hoping for sanity?

9. Simon   
Mar 06 2007 11:56
 

Having one "reasonable" candidate is better than none at all, though i must say i also think "best of a bad bunch" philosophy isnt the best in the world.

If we are "in it to change it" then i think abstaining is a particularly ineffective method of triggering change, but voting for someone who is unlikely to force the changes we as a Union deserve to see is also pointless.

Likewise, calling a referendum within a year of the last hardly gives the NUS a chance to satisfy what we want from it, a few more years would give a clearer picture and also make the vote easier to WIN for the A-NUS camp if the NUS is still not delivering.

Here's a question though, is the President bound by the rules and regs that govern the behaviour of our other Delegates? If so then he SHOULD have consulted Council before backing anyone, as our Delegates are supposed to use their influence the way WE say, not the way THEY think they should (though often the two will coincide).

Mar 06 2007 12:35
 

Yeah, I was under the impression that the President isn't allowed opinions. He is but the puppet of Council...

Mar 06 2007 12:37
 

A choice between raving lefties (SBL, ENS), spineless centre-rightists (Labour) or nuts that believe George Galloway is somehow relevant (Respect)?

That doesn't strike me as much of a choice.

12. jess   
Mar 06 2007 12:38
 

i'm sure in my day imperial kids were too geeky for the other universities and they picked on us. now they're climbing over themselves to be friends with the geeks? maybe they want IC to do their homework for them

13. Hmm.   
Mar 06 2007 12:54
 

?Complete betrayal, given that he led the Exec which initiated the boycott?

surely the aim of a boycott is to effect change, and if those changes are subsequently made it is absolutely proper to stop the boycott at that point- but of course some people think a protest is an end in itself and will carry on even when the initial cause has been removed...

Mar 06 2007 13:27
 

Yes, this is why the NUS felt the need to send its Black Students Officer on an all expenses paid trip to South Africa this year, presumably to double check that apartheid government has not returned on the sly....(sarcasm, sigh).

Probably also why their womens campaign wont be happy until women can abort their children up until they are 10 years old, becaus after all it is their right to choose.

If you want examples of protest for protests sake you have to look no further than the NUS.

15. Woman   
Mar 06 2007 13:49
 

"wont be happy until women can abort their children up until they are 10 years old"

Ignoring the REAL issues of women who DO choose to have a child and want to return to a half-decent job with half-decent pay afterwards... /rant

16. Simon   
Mar 06 2007 14:39
 

James, that is exactly what we require of our NUS delegates:

Delegates elected to represent the Union to the National Union of Students (NUS) and the University of London Union (ULU) shall:

i. Attend all Union relevant meetings and represent the views of the Union to the NUS National Conference and the ULU Council.

ii. Work with all other Union delegates to support motions that the Union Council believes further the aims, objects and policies of the Union.

17.  
Mar 06 2007 15:07
 

aren't they supposed to not affiliate to any factions/groups aswell?

18. Simon   
Mar 06 2007 16:07
 

yeah, that too, i was just pointing out the relevant points, rather than copying the whole thing. Unless JC has joined some NUS group or other, in which case......

Mar 06 2007 17:12
 

How about all their relevant facebook groups, could they be interpreted as NUS groups/factions?

If so...

20.  
Mar 06 2007 17:25
 

surely given his widely-known political preference, backing similarly political candidates could be seen as affiliating himself...

21. Simon   
Mar 06 2007 19:46
 

Ben Harris has just attached a placeholder "NUS Motions: Guidance for Delegates" to the Agenda for next Council, advising all Councilors to read the NUS CD8: "Motions and Amendments" Document in order for us to advise the delegates of what positions to take on them.

Don't worry, the document is only 181 pages long, and includes amendments from the banal and meaningless to overreaching and important.

I guess that's my light reading for the next few days sorted.

Mar 06 2007 20:24
 

Bloody hell, what have we let ourselves in for? The vast majority of these people are a bunch of Trotskyist nutters! NUS affiliation with stop the war! And we're funding this insanity. This is the first time I've ever been embarrassed to be a student at IC.

Mar 07 2007 00:30
 

Mr Hayden -

If you didn't know that before the affiliation referendum, then the No campaign seriously fell down on the job.

NUS hasn't changed in that respect since before I was a student.

24. hmm   
Mar 08 2007 09:28
 

Now now, what would you say if an outside group picked up on some council papers by Mr Smith/ Mr Low/ Ms Royle and judged ICU accordingly?

Now we're in, we have votes with which to vote down papers to which we object.

(And I think it would be a bit intrusive to dictate what groups indvividuals can join on personal facebook accounts- if they signed up with Sabb email addresses and position names that would be different...)

Mar 08 2007 09:43
 

hmm - the point you're missing is that there would normally be many more sensible papers mixed in with the odd Respect/SWSS one. Ditto at elections - you normally only get one "extremist" candidate, followed by some mediocre ones and finally a good one.

In this case, you have the opposite - a bunch of wholly unsuitable candidates (to ICU, anyway) and then some which will do as a last resort.

Mar 08 2007 10:12
 

Just to clarify that the CD8 - Motions & Amendments document which is at www.officeronline.co.uk/conference will be further drafted at the Drafting Commission meeting this Sunday at ULU and a new document known affectionately as CD16 - Final Motions will be the final debateable document that actually goes before NUS Conference.

The other thing to bear in mind, is that these are all motions for debate, and won't necessarily achieve enough votes to pass and become policy ;)

As Imperial has an amendment in the Education Zone debate, your delegate and/or observer will be taken through this drafting process on Sunday by lovely old me. NUS Steering Committee has already determined what is being drafted with what and fixed debate 'baskets' so that debate flows logically (certainly through the Education Zone debate).

So, in a nutshell, it is CD16 which is debated and not CD8 (as that will ensure subjects are only debated and voted on once during Conference - there is no mechanism to re-open debate at all, once dealt with, which is by a vote on it)

Also, would just like to plug the NUS Conference Podcast, which is online also at www.officeronline.co.uk/conference, towards the top of the page!

Mar 08 2007 14:43
 

It's good to see a couple of papers calling for an out-and-out governance reform, and equally good to see an amendment by the NUS NEC describing calls to keep many of the current structures as "obstructive".

Shame about all the motions scattered through Zone 800 which tack on "conference and block of 12 to remain the same" or some such. It would be nice to rule out motions which tack resolves on the end which are unrelated to the rest of the motion!

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