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Glasgow NUS Referendum: Free and Fair?

Nov 20 2006 09:13
David Crow
With a hard-fought and highly charged referendum at Imperial, David Crow asks questions about the fairness of the vote at Glasgow.
David Crow, former editor of 'Guardian' at Glasgow

David Crow is media columnist for The Business and former editor of the Glasgow University Guardian.

In March 2002 Robert Mugabe won the Zimbabwean presidential election with 56% of the vote. State owned media and the coercion of voters worked to ensure he maintained his tyrannous hold over a country which is increasingly plagued by an unstable economy and significant abuses of human rights. However, the results of Glasgow University's NUS referendum would have made Mr Mugabe blush; elections that produce a 93.9% majority are neither free nor fair.

I'm not suggesting Glasgow University should have joined the NUS. During my time as editor of the campus's only independent newspaper I found the officials I encountered to be nasty, self-serving and pernicious. I voted 'Yes' not because I believed the NUS could make a valuable contribution to student life at Glasgow but to register my disgust at the utter lack of democracy displayed during the referendum.

Those who ran the 'No' camp did an impressive job with a campaign that was ruthless and strong. That the 'Yes' lobby was controlled by a group of unpopular militant socialists who tried to garner the support of their "comrades, brothers and sisters" was merely the icing on the cake. However, the tactics of those hoping to keep Glasgow out of the NUS were both unfair and dirty.

On the day of the elections both unions had mobilised all their staff to campaign against affiliation and they set up online polling booths in their foyers to encourage students to vote. In the five years I have spent at Glasgow this has never happened; thousands of computers litter the campus and it is unlikely that the 4,327 students who voted would have been unable to vote elsewhere. I spent time in both foyers on polling day and was shocked by what I saw.

Students ? most of whom were unaware a referendum was even taking place ? were accosted as they entered the buildings to buy their lunch and told how to vote. The turnout, massive by Glasgow standards, shows that this election was won with the ballots of those who normally would not have voted in a campus election. Of course, they needed these votes because the referendum result would have been null and void had less than 3,000 students voted. Compare this figure to that for our SRC presidents and vice-presidents who receive a combined salary of nearly £60,000 but were elected on a turnout of just a thousand.

Supposedly independent, the [Glasgow] Guardian newspaper ran a front-page splash featuring the headline "£50K to join NUS" and the unions also ran anti-NUS stories in their own excellent magazines. No media outlet supported or provided adequate space for those who believe in the benefits of the NUS. A few column inches in the Guardian for the head of the 'Yes' campaign was all there was.

I use the word 'supposedly' because although officially independent the Guardian newspaper is funded, housed and managed by the SRC whose own anti-affiliation stance was widely known. I am not suggesting for one minute that Guardian was told what to print; I know the new editor well and am aware he has fervent and passionate views that Glasgow should not affiliate.

However, presented with the obvious lack of coverage for those campaigning to join the only independent voice on campus needed to appear whiter than white. The countless column inches given to the reasons Glasgow should not join ? an opinion ardently held by paper's proprietor ? pose serious questions about the publication's autonomy. Last week Murdoch's BskyB bought an 18% stake in ITV yet his most prestigious newspaper The Sunday Times ran a prominent article questioning the fairness and competitiveness of the deal. Had they taken a different line their title and brand would have been discredited, the same is sadly true of Guardian.

Mr Mugabe still wins elections in Zimbabwe because the state-run press parrots his opinions whilst his officials coerce the country's voters. Freedom of the press and a fair vote are two of the basic tenets in a transparent democracy. It is thoroughly depressing that neither were evident on Glasgow University's campus last week; what should have been a victory for Glasgow's students is now tainted.

Look out for Live!'s summary of Imperial's referendum later this week.

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Discussion about “Glasgow NUS Referendum: Free and Fair?”

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. Lorna   
Nov 20 2006 10:34
 

I'm a student at the University

Nov 20 2006 10:51
 

What did you think of the referendum at Glasgow?

Nov 20 2006 11:08
 

As a PhD student in his early 30's at the University of Glasgow and as someone who has served on the SRC not only whilst doing my PhD but also six years earlier whilst undertaking my masters, I can see the situation with the NUS with perhaps a little more perspective that some, certainly as I was an undergraduate at another University.

My view, is the wonderfully unique circumstances of Glasgow University in having two Unions, a body such as the SRC and a substantial Postgraduate club with over 1500 members should be preserved to prevent us becoming an identi-kit university in the red brick mode, something which Glasgow is not. However, our situation is an open target for a small, quite stereotypical (sometimes being at university is Groundhog day for me) self refreshing cohort of wannabe politicians (regardless of party affiliations) who year on year want to make a self serving publicity seeking changes to Glasgow and joining the NUS and merging the student bodies is an easy uncreative target for their ambitions. They would say my comments are patronising, I would say, apologies, but then do something different, break the mold, be creative, show me I am wrong!!! Ain't happened yet, although David Crow is an exception and frankly I am bored with all this, particular as I have made a decade long commitment to Glasgow, these chaps will not do and can see the long term consequences of such actions.

So David is correct, there is a lack of democracy and there was some coercion to be seen. However, our position in the Hetherington Research Club for postgraduates was simple, we had a committee meeting and we voted to support the No campaign as a yes victory would have been detrimental to our existence, pure and simple.

So, to conclude, we would be really stupid to ruin the wonderful ambience of Glasgow University and the choice presented to students and we should all be ever vigilant of the actions of a some politically motivated group of students who want to change things because they can, not because it is right to do so.

4. n/a   
Nov 20 2006 11:14
 

I'm involved in the unions in Glasgow, and i'd like to question exactly what it is that you're talking about in this article - you seem to have missed the point of people taking a stance.

Glasgow, especially within the unions, has a long tradition of debate over affiliation to NUS, reasoning from rightwing anti-union opinion; to those agreeing with its principle, but knowing it wouldn't work in our system.

You make some strong accusations against the tactics used by the No campaigns. One of our biggest reasons for launching such a huge campaign is that we were expecting the same from the NUS - take your thoughts away from Zimbabwe and look to the referendum in Edinburgh. The NUS put on a big show for Edinburgh, but chose to keep out of Glasgow for one reason - they didn't have any of the presidents at our university in their pockets.

What was shown there was that as soon as the NUS has convinced SRC exec members to join, it was suddenly ok for them to swamp campus with their own "yes to NUS" materials.

The unions No campaign did look ridiculous in comparison to the Yes campaign, and a lot of people on the day felt uneasy about the obvious difference in the two. However, the Yes campaign will also verify that thier appeals to NUS for help were rebuffed. NUS made a resource decision - it would have been a waste of money to campaign at Glasgow, if they couldn't even convince student officers to support them.

In regard to the Guardian, as you point out, they are an independant publication on campus. Does that mean that they automatically have to disagree with what others on campus feel? It is their editorial right to take a stance.

Surely having been at the university for 5 years will remind you of the days of paper ballots in the unions for SRC elections? It has only recently been possible to provide online voting in the unions, and this was the first opportunity to try this out.

This referendum was pointless to begin with because there is such strong feelings on campus. It was inherited from a motion passed by an SRC president who was self motivated and not interested in gauging what the people he was elected by actually thought.

For the first time in your five years, the unions, SRC and GUSA all worked together, showing that there is indeed Strength in Unity.

Nov 20 2006 11:37
 

Dude,

'Strength in Unity?' 'Right-Wing Anti Union Opinion', surely you are coming from a biased political viewpoint yourself and would in fact be in favour of joining the NUS, yet do not appear to have the clarity to say so. Also, why make such accusations without giving your name, that is not particularly brave, is it? Jesus, am I having another 'Groundhog Day' moment in my University career or what?!!

For the QMU, GUU and HRC the NUS affiliation was more pragmatic in nature, it would have cost us more money to buy stock than being part of Northern Services as we currently are on top of which we will fork out £50,000 in affiliation costs. Sod the politics, that is not right and even Edinburgh is having issues with this. The funding was proposed to come from the block grant, but this is split between the four bodies and we were not asked whether we would want to give a proportion of our money to the NUS. Not fair and not democratic.

A little history for you. The reason why Scottish Universities historically do not affiliate to the NUS is that Jack Straw merged the independent Scottish NUS with the English NUS in the 1970's and as a result Scottish Universities all disaffiliated en masse and this had been the situation ever since. That is true democracy in response to a centrally imposed edict from a self serving student politician.

In addition, we do work together, again not politics but mechanics, Northern Services and other buying consortiums have reduced the cost to students at SCOTTISH universities substantially in comparison to other Universities. So to say 'This is the first time in five years, the Unions, SRC and GUSA all worked together' is utter c**p, we do on a number of practical issues that benefit the student and always have done.

My advice would be have a chat with the managers and staff in the unions and find out how things actually function, you might be moderately surprised. Also, put your name to public utterances because it is wrong to make accusations and not have the bravery to own up to them as yours.

6. Seb   
Nov 20 2006 15:05
 

er... not necesarily wanting to intevene in what could be a terribly interesting flamewar, but n/a does actually say:

"reasoning from rightwing anti-union opinion; to those agreeing with its principle, but knowing it wouldn't work in our system."

Correcting for bad punctuationand use of language, that seems to be

"ranging from...", i.e. that there is a broad church of people opposed to the NUS in glasgow, from right wing ideologues to people who like the idea in principle but not practice. I don't think he seems to be picking sides. Personally I read his post as being rather anti-NUS.

7. n/a   
Nov 20 2006 16:39
 

Thank you Seb for your sanity, yours is a correct reading of my post. Many apologies Duncan, for trying to be more pragmatic in my response, I am very anti-NUS, but tried to not "bash" them as much as many of my fellow glaswegians have done in other forums.

I was responding directly to the article, not to your post, and that obviously didn't come across.

I am also quite aware of the history of NUS and the Scottish Union of Students. In fact Glasgow was a member of this before it merged with NUS Scotland which was when most Universities disaffiliated.

I am more than entitled to be anonymous on a forum, and I'm not insulting you anyway!

The SRC, unions and GUSA were very much in agreement, and work together all year round - yes that's right! The difference this time was that we ran a high profile campaign together, so that all students could see that it was more than just our "mechanics" that keep us working together.

You say that this was only about Northern Services, but one of the resounding things that came out of this campaign was that it wasn't just about the price of a pint, it was about the SRC providing the representation we need, which unfortunately for you is political. Students voted overwhemingly and rightly that the system we have is best for us.

I wrote - "It was inherited from a motion passed by an SRC president who was self motivated and not interested in gauging what the people he was elected by actually thought" i.e. He didn't listen and understand that we didn't want the NUS here. Those are the type of student politicians that you should be wary of, not those on campus now.

I know that HRC had a stance which also agreed with what everyone else on campus was touting, what we showed even more was that there is no need whatsoever for the NUS in Glasgow.

"Strength in Unity" is a p*** take of the NUS slogan.

Nov 20 2006 17:02
 

It's made my day reading this article - the art of pure spin is still alive! To point out a few undermining truths:

I don't think the strong opinions of many students in Glasgow meant that the referendum was not free and fair.

I would say that although Imperial has a nice (almost balanced) 53% majority to go on, the referendum is no more free and fair than the Glasgow 94%.

The Union President took a clear stance and campaigned throughout. Pro NUS student politicians throughout the country are congratulating him on taking a stance, without which they fear the vote might never have been won.

Students in Glasgow may not have all voted for the right reasons (ie the price of a pint) but they will have taken the stance of their Unions seriously. Why is Glasgow's SRC attacked for having a stance on this referendum? Because they were against the affiliation.

Unlike many Unions who have engineered a vote/motion to Council and neutrally overseen it, the Glasgow SRC laid their cards on the table and were honest about their opinion. The referendum was then run independently, to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Polling stations were stripped of any propaganda, and as in any election there should not have been campaigning taking place. I'm sure students were asked to vote by campaigners on the day - that's what campaigners tend to do and I don't think it's far from common election practise.

As for the Guardian in Glasgow, I don't think a newspaper's editorial should be based on disagreement and anti-authoritarianism alone - aren't we a bit mature for petty point counting? Heaven forbid the editors should agree with the majority of people on campus!

For those of you that have not read the Guardian, please note that a full page ad was placed encouraging students to 'vote yes, vote no, just vote'. The YES campaign were given a column next to the NO.

Nov 20 2006 17:55
 

The simple fact that you start your article with the mentioning of a criminal and authoritarianist murderer made me stop reading any further.

Cheap blow Crow. And one hell of an ugly picture.

10. Seb   
Nov 20 2006 18:21
 

Yes, I did rather think that the Zimbabwe comparisson was rather close to an example of Godwin's rule.

Nov 20 2006 18:58
 

What a desperate trick by Mr Crow to try and make comparisons with Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Ignoring for a moment the poor taste, let us look at the underlying analogy which I think he is trying to draw: he thinks there is a similarity between the Mugabe regime which whips its electorate through the voting booths, and some kind of coercive behaviour on the day of the referendum. By his own description, the coercion appears to have amounted to, er, conversation between the No campaigners and potential voters. Wow. If that meets Mr Crow's definition of undemocratic, I wish him well when he moves to Zimbabwe. And were the Yes campaigners really just standing around not talking to people? In that case, it's surprising they got even the low number of votes that were cast for affiliation.

A further hole in Mr Crow's argument is apparent when we remember that there was no imperative for the No camp to secure a high turnout. Had the referendum not met the 15% threshold, the status quo would have prevailed and GU would have remained unaffiliated. That's a different thing from the referendum result being "null and void" as Mr Crow claims: I don't think he understands the procedure involved. Granted, a decisive result such as this will give the No camp the most satisfaction, but even a low turnout would have sufficed, and could have been used by them to show how irrelevant the NUS is to Glasgow students. The people who had a real need for a high turnout were the Yes camp.

I had to laugh at Mr Crow's citing of Guardian's headline as a supposed example of bias. What is the objection to such a factual statement, unless you are embarrassed by actually quantifying the drain it would have been on student funding at Glasgow, or don't think it would have been value for money? (And it actually understates the amount by some £2,500!). At worst, it represents the common newspaper failing of going for a short snappy headline.

For all Guardian is indeed published by the SRC, it has usually managed whenever it wanted in the past to take its own separate line - sometimes vehemently so - from the elected Council or Executive of the SRC. I speak as one who was elected to the SRC in the mid to late '90s, and I'm still an occasional reader of Guardian. Mr Crow gives no evidence of what has changed, or why/how on this particular matter, the current editorial team was somehow obliged to toe the line. I read the issue published prior to the referendum (the one with the headline Mr Crow cites) and as another comment mentions, there was equal space given in that issue for articles by each camp. Indeed, the big picture with the story was the Yes campaign team! Oh, and for the benefit of non-Glasgow types reading this (and perhaps as a reminder to Mr Crow himself), Guardian is only one of the publications financed by the SRC. Are we to assume that the TV, radio and magazine outlets were all under the thumb as well?

I'm sorry to see that a former Guardian editor submits for publication 700 such poorly argued words, a mix of some anecdotal observation, factual inaccuracy and shallow assertion. The attempt to drag in the plight of Zimbabwe as cheap opening and closing lines may be general crassness, or a specific realisation that he wasn't going to win the argument on facts and hence had better rely on a woolly appeal to the emotions - who knows? Either way, I shall not rush to read Mr Crow's current "media column" if this is his typical level.

Nov 20 2006 21:47
 

I hardly think Mr Crow is suggesting there is any similarity between Mugabe's regime and Glasgow Uni. Rather, he is using it as a reference point to demonstrate the ownership of the press by a strongly anti-NUS organisation and the unusual polling arrangements.

The No campaign must wish that they had won with a smaller margin.

As for Guardian, I did read the issue and it doesn't give as much space to Yes views as No views. Also, whoever pointed out that the photo of the Yes campaign - just a handful of people in a nearly empty room - was a boost to their cause is having a laugh.

There is nothing wrong with Guardian having its own opinion on affiliation but it did run an anti-affiliation issue just before the election along with a didactic leader telling students to vote No.

However, when it's views are so in line with the organisation that controls their purse strings one does have to ask questions. I have heard that in recent years Guardian has become less and less autonomous.

Mr Crow's link to Zimbabwe is glib and superficial but I think you'd be hard pressed to find a columnist that doesn't use similar tricks to get readers hooked. He is simply articulating views that were not articulated elsewhere.

Nov 20 2006 21:54
 

Re: Ross Fleming's comment

"Cheap blow Crow. And one hell of an ugly picture"

Shame your indignation over cheap blows doesn't transfer onto your own carefully constructed comment... Maybe next time read the whole article before deciding to respond.

14. n/a   
Nov 20 2006 22:12
 

Duncan Philip Connors

"So, to conclude, we would be really stupid to ruin the wonderful ambience of Glasgow University".

Do you refer also to the convicted Racist lecturer in Physics as part of that ambience?

Do you refer to senior male staff being involved in sex scandals?

Have you ever had sex with a young woman who was asleep, like was reported in the student newspaper. Alleged a senior arts lecturer starting undressing a girl who was asleep.

Mr. Crow should know about the university's agenda.

"During my time as editor of the campus's only independent newspaper I found the officials I encountered to be nasty, self-serving and pernicious."

23,000 students and only 4,000 vote, 19,000 students have no time for these SRC idiots.

I would suggest you don't know what the 4 xxxx you are talking about, ambience.

The university management control the puppet that is the SRC by their cash and their disciplinary system. The SRC are too stupid to represent students.

Nov 21 2006 00:01
 

Interesting article but I would be interested to see if anyone can name an NUS referendum that wasn't unfairly run. While I accept that the referendum was one sided, I think it was commendable of the SRC to actual be honest about it and take an official stance rather than doing things cloak and dagger as many others (no names mentioned!) would.

The fact is that whether we like it or not, the referendum could not have conceivably have been run fairly. Had the SRC and unions remained impartial and let the official camps take their own stance, NUS would have taken over and tipped the balance. At least the referendum was won by student campaigners from Glasgow rather than outsiders. This is, in the history of NUS referendums rather a unique novelty.

To answer the points raised above, I have to agree with Duncan's points. The unions have to act within their own interests and the ambience at Glasgow is one that has be threatened. N/a refers to a number of issues reported in the guardian but I would think it advisable to take some things written in the guardian with a fistful of salt (I had the pleasure this year of reading for the first time an issue which did not include sensationalist tabloid journalism based on circumstancial evidence in any of its main stories).

I also defy the comment that the SRC are too stupid to represent students. Whenever I see unanonymous posts like this one I wonder if a person unwilling to make their identity public on forum would ever consider even talking to the SRC. The fact is that many students refuse to tell the SRC their problems and then get upset because their needs aren't represented. For this, I have little sympathy.

Nov 21 2006 14:23
 

bob slay / early Grey said : "As for the Guardian in Glasgow, I don't think a newspaper's editorial should be based on disagreement and anti-authoritarianism alone - aren't we a bit mature for petty point counting? Heaven forbid the editors should agree with the majority of people on campus!"

Just as the Daily Mail agrees with the majority of the public on issues such as asylum, immigration and gay rights.

Maybe Mr Slay would like to bring back hanging; the majority of the country would be in agreement.

Nov 21 2006 14:37
 

There must have been over 500 posters printed by the No campaign.

How were they paid for? Using money from both the unions. Intended to provide student services.

Students were sold the NO message using their own money! Amazing. Now, that is Mugabe-style.

Nov 21 2006 14:46
 

"Students were sold the NO message using their own money! Amazing. Now, that is Mugabe-style."

You have to remember that a high-profile campaign from the NUS was expected to counter that of the unions. They would have spent even more student's money and quite possibly won, costing student services £50,000; the No group spent a mere fraction of this.

Of course its not right to spend union money on such campaigns in principle but the fact is that the campaign was run in the best interests of preserving those student services you speak of. In world thats far from ideal you sometimes need to get past principles and campaign for the greater good.

Nov 21 2006 16:07
 

Anders Roberts: In world thats far from ideal you sometimes need to get past principles and campaign for the greater good.

A statement not a million miles away from one a dictator would make, I'm sure.

Nov 21 2006 17:53
 

I don't really know whether I'm for or against NUS but as a Glasgow uni student I have to say it's a pity that this is the most debate that's been had on the subject. Just a shame it came so late, and had to be posted on another uni's site.

Nov 21 2006 20:15
 

"A statement not a million miles away from one a dictator would make, I'm sure."

We can argue about where to draw the line between principle and practice until we're blue in the face and honestly I don't think its an argument either of us can win.

What I will say though is that there has been plenty of room for debate on this issue. The subject has been open on all sorts of forums like this one for weeks. Not only that but we had a heckling meeting before the referendum for the very purpose of debate (the details of which were e-mailed to every student) and before that the unions each had EGMs to discuss their stances. Its very typical that students feel left out of the loop but I don't really see what else we could have done. We could have run even more meetings but I can't imagine they'd be attended by anyone who hadn't already made up their mind.

Nov 22 2006 01:22
 

Mr Roberts

Your last post seems to be agreeing with Mr Crow's article.

Practice: We should not join the NUS

Principal: We should campaign democratically

Practice: Fulfilled

Principal: Lacking

Why are you arguing?

Nov 22 2006 13:35
 

R Gooding makes an odd point about the production of posters ("Students were sold the NO message using their own money!"). What other source of money is available to fund campaigns run by and aimed at students? The Unions/SRC are democratic entities and can decide how to spend their allocated funds. If there had been anything other than the most minuscule support for NUS affiliation, then maybe the members of each Union/SRC would have decided to spend "their own money" on producing 'Yes' posters, but that simply wasn't the case: no doubt unpopular to the handful of people in the Yes camp, but that's the way it goes. On this I must disagree with Mr Roberts, who says that "Of course it's not right to spend union money on such campaigns in principle but..." Yes it is right, so long as the body in question takes a proper decision to do so. Holding an EGM to decide your stance and then acting accordingly is perfectly legitimate, and it is odd of those complaining about lack of democracy to seek to undermine these decisions. I bet they would have been quite happy if the Queen Margaret Union (for example) had come out with a pro-affiliation stance and run off a barrow-load of posters, etc.

NUS seems to have decided to save face (and money) by keeping its nose out of this referendum. We can therefore only guess at what it would have done had it decided (or been allowed/invited) to take an active part. I think I can make an informed guess, however. When I was a younger GUSRC Hack, I and several others travelled to Stirling University which held a disaffiliation referendum in 97/98 or 98/99 (excuse my failing memory). This had started out, understandably, as a matter for Stirling students only, but as the voting day drew nearer, the Association resolved to allow outside parties to attend and campaign as well. This allowed me and other non-NUS types to speak at meetings and campaign on the day, and it also allowed NUS to bus in sabbaticals and other student hacks from all over Scotland to campaign in the opposite direction. I was told at the time that the pressure to allow in outsiders came from NUS Scotland, which didn't want to leave the matter in the hands of Stirling students alone. If you think the No campaign at Glasgow ended up as a sledgehammer to crack a nut, you should have seen the NUS machine in operation at Stirling - they were determined not to lose and no effort or expense was spared. Pretty much every NUS affiliate in Scotland had sent a sabbatical or two along, under a three line whip: the luckier ones spent the day giving out glossy leaflets while dressed in costumes hired from fancy dress shops. There is one current Member of the Scottish Parliament who made a fine, if rather skinny and unmelodious, Luciano Pavarotti.

In the end, NUS did not get its battalions out at Glasgow and the Yes campaign seems to have been led by a handful of leftists. I guess the No campaign ended up as the bigger operation for several reasons: NUS staying away, as it happened; a non-mainstream Yes campaign; the possibility that the NUS could have turned up officially or unofficially, and hence the No campaign prepared for the worst; and not least, the numbers show that the No campaign represented the vast majority of student opinion. None of those things is a fault of the No camp.

24. Lorna   
Nov 22 2006 17:29
 

GU SRC Hack-

Your post manages to summarise perfectly what happened with the referendum on campus. Bloody well done.

Nov 22 2006 18:35
 

Lorna: "Bloody well done old chap"

Your language sums up everything wrong with the right wing guard at Glasgow!

Nov 23 2006 00:18
 

GU SRC Hack: What other source of money is available to fund campaigns run by and aimed at students?

MAYBE THE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF POUNDS BOTH UNIONS HAVE IN RESERVES!!

Nov 23 2006 18:01
 

A recent comment comes from someone who may well be living in the 21st century (as are we all, I trust) but alas his/her reading skills seem stuck in the Dark Ages. The words "old chap" do not appear in Lorna's comment and your misquotation is painfully obvious.

Nay sayer reckons the two Unions at Glasgow have tens of thousands of pounds of reserves, and seems to think this could be an "other source of money" for campaigns. This claim is fundamentally mistaken. If the Unions do have such reserves, then they are just as much part of the Unions' assets as any other fund or income stream - they don't somehow sit apart, except in accounting terms! Reserves can be inherited historically, come from investments, be topped up from annual operating surpluses, etc, but if you accept that all the other income for the student bodies is 'students' money' then reserves are no different. It makes no long term difference whether you fund a campaign with a chunk of your annual block grant or by drawing some funds from a reserve. (A technical point, really, rather than addressing the original argument of 'should there have been the expenditure on this referendum that there was?' but it is important to remember that the student bodies are members' organisations and if they have reserves, they don't somehow end up belonging to someone else.)

28. Ed   
Nov 28 2006 10:45
 

Living In C21st: "Your language sums up everything wrong with the right wing guard at Glasgow! You should be strung up from a lamppost, imperialist lackey scum!"

Now now, death threats are a bit much, old boy.

Nov 28 2006 12:19
 

"No media outlet supported or provided adequate space for those who believe in the benefits of the NUS." - David Crow

This is not the case - in fact, Glasgow University Student Television's news programme reported the campaign impartially, and included an interview with NUS Scotland President James Alexander, as well as an in-studio debate featuring the heads of both the Yes and No campaigns.

Gary Rodger

GUST Contributor

30. n/a   
Nov 28 2006 23:09
 

Gary Rodger

"This is not the case - in fact, Glasgow University Student Television's news programme reported the campaign impartially, and included an interview with NUS Scotland President James Alexander, as well as an in-studio debate featuring the heads of both the Yes and No campaigns."

If I understand you an interview was shown on possibly one or two telly sets at the Unions at odd times of the day?

Hardly reaching the masses, one man and his dawg comes to mind.

Cheap trick to claim credit for doing next to nothing.

Have you no shame for attempting to hog the limelight.

The vote was a farce and David's article was spot on. Rather sad that some people wish to rewrite history to suit.

Pathetic, truly pathetic.

31. n/a   
Nov 29 2006 00:16
 

In the interest of fairness I would like to put this link up to show how our brethern at Glasgow University SRC forum react to the death of an english student. The author has issues but the reaction provoked is inspirational.

Comments range from;

"NOONE LIKES YOU! NOONE LIKES YOU! WAHEY! YOU'RE A CNUT!"

to;

"vaffunculo, li odio schiuma socialista" roughly F**K you socialist

Please note that education standards are in flux, hence the reply to the author contains a spelling error. The word "WAHEY" is usually said very loudly and generally by people having a good time. Obviously "CNUT" is spelt wrong in an endeavour to show that the moron writing has a softer side, possibly developed by sleeping with his mummy too long when younger.

The link is to this gem;

http://www.glasgowstudent.net/forum/viewtopic.php?id=236

It also contains opinion on NUS debate or lack of it.

It does lend credence to David Crow's timeously put comment, "During my time as editor of the campus's only independent newspaper I found the officials I encountered to be nasty, self-serving and pernicious."

Dec 01 2006 14:47
 

My, what an interesting debate.

And what an interesting referendum it was.

There are so many points I want to pick up on, I don't know where to start. But I'll concentrate on the campaigns I suppose.

The no campaign was big, really big. THe reason for this was that the student bodies put in efforts to campaign for what they believed was bes for their members. They where completely within their righs to do this. The amounts of money put in was in preparation of the juggernaut expected from the NUS. That they didn't show up is not our fault.

The official Yes campaign new the odds where against them and instead of trying to involve others such as the NUS or student groups on campus they appeared to put their efforts into complaining about the referendum as opposed to actually campaigning. They had an official budget of £200 which while pale in comparison to the money used by the unions is a lot of money for a campaign covering a square mile or so. I've campaigned in elections on campus several times in the last few years and can quite happily assert that with that sort of money you could cover most of campus with posters including every notice board, railings etc and still have money for fliers and creative publicity left. Instead there was a selection of badly designed, confusing, difficult to understand posters and expensive to produce posters flyposted to a few walls and stuck up on a fraction of notice boards. In addition on the day I only saw a handfull of yes campaigners compared to an embarassingly large number of no campaigners.

Now to my knowledge no-one was getting paid to campaign that day so money has nowt to do with it. That's to do with getting grass roots supporters who can encourage people to do that on the day.

In a similar note people here, and in other places have commented about how many posters the no campaign put up. That's because we bothered to put them up. At 5am on referendum day, I and a group of steadfast campaigners where running about campus, painting the town red (so to speak) I didn't see a no campaigner until at least 10am, after pollin opened. How can we be critisised for being keen.

As to Mr Crow's comments on the independant newspaper, Guardian. Surely that means that the Editors (the thoroughly nice, Robert and Ryan) are free to do what ever they want, not just fold to the opinions of a meddling, sensationalist, muck stirring former editor. I don't know what You've said to them in the last month but the way their tune changed for the most recent issue suggests a conversation similar to the one involving the chair and the rope in the new James Bond film.

33. D_Tait   
Dec 07 2006 01:03
 

"In the interest of fairness I would like to put this link up to show how our brethern at Glasgow University SRC forum react to the death of an english student. The author has issues but the reaction provoked is inspirational."

I think that if you read this article closely and link to the website of the original author of this article you'll realise quite why it was greeted in this manner.

Not because of anti-english jingo-ism, but rather because of the exploitation of the case of the murdered student. This was a ridiculous and shameful attempt to use a tragic event for a twisted purpose and I defy anyone to think that the post (and poster) should have been treated with even the slightest respect.

Dec 07 2006 16:50
 

Mr or Ms "n/a" (Nov 29th at 00:16) has indeed got the wrong end of the stick. The guy who's being ridiculed in the glasgowstudent web forum is some mad Scotsman (the self-appointed "Scottish National Standard Bearer") who claimed the death of the English student (Daniel Pollen) proved, er, something. I have read the forum and looked at SNSB's website - and I still can't tell you what point he was trying to make as he is undoubtedly tuned to an alien frequency. Anyway, the fact is that Glasgow students took the p*** out of him, quite rightly - wheras every comment about the late Mr Pollen was sympathetic, and people were annoyed that his death was being used by the nutcase for his own crazy ends.

One last thing: although, as my earlier posts make clear, I found Mr Crow's article to be a lot of poorly argued nonsense, I do think it should be read attentively. A couple of people seem to think his remark that "...the officials I encountered [were] nasty, self-serving and pernicious" refers to people at Glasgow Uni. It doesn't. He was talking about his dealings with NUS officials. On that point, I think he is 100% correct.

35. n/a   
Dec 10 2006 07:31
 

David A. Tait

"I think that if you read this article closely and link to the website of the original author of this article you'll realise quite why it was greeted in this manner."

No, I do not!

If I understand you correctly, anyone can be abused at Glasgow University provided the elitist clique such as yourself, Hon Sec of the GUU, agree with it?

"I defy anyone to think that the post (and poster) should have been treated with even the slightest respect."

Well I would tend to disagree, all people should be treated with respect regardless of race, creed, religon etc. I would concede that the individual has issues but clearly this does not warrent the response.

I would like to assess whether or not this type of nauseating behaviour and your full support for it, is a Glasgow University trait.

Please explain these comments and why they are acceptable.

"NOONE LIKES YOU! NOONE LIKES YOU! WAHEY! YOU'RE A CNUT!".

"Some loon tinks he can carry Scotland's bag? Well Mr Peter MacJobbie, I am Scotland bin bag carrier."

"vaffunculo, li odio schiuma socialista", roughly F**K you socialist.

"OMG you **** moron! Patronise has two different meanings you cant even speak english you tit! ".

Keen to hear further your 'opinions'.

best regards

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